Cain to Romney: Pick West, Not Portman

Former presidential candidate Herman Cain tells National Review Online that Mitt Romney should tap Representative Allen West of Florida as his vice-presidential nominee. “[West] has a military background, he tells it like it is, and he’s not afraid to challenge the status quo,” he says.

Beyond West, Cain also likes Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin for veep, but the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO advises Romney to avoid picking Senator Rob Portman of Ohio.

Portman, he warns, would not energize conservatives. “If Romney picks a person who is going to deflate the base, rather than inspire the base, we’ll be in trouble,” Cain says. “Most people don’t really know Portman. You’ve got to pick someone exciting, someone with bold ideas.”

Trying to get a reaction, I asked him if he’s open to being Romney’s running mate. “Never say ‘never,’” he chuckles. “But I wouldn’t want to be a distraction. I’m still trying to clear up the false accusations against me. I’m trying to get to the bottom of it, trying to find out the source.”

Earlier today, Cain officially endorsed Romney in a brief press conference at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington. He was joined by Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Representative Steve King of Iowa, both of whom expressed desire for Republican unity.

Cain recently met with Romney in Boston. He told the former Massachusetts governor that replacing the tax code must be a priority. “He’s at least considering that,” he says. “I told him that it’s not enough to reform the tax code; [conservative activists] want to replace it.”

Robert Costa — Robert Costa is National Review's Washington editor and a CNBC political analyst. He manages NR's Capitol Hill bureau and covers the White House, Congress, and national campaigns. ...

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