Earlier this year, the conventional wisdom seemed to suggest that Mitt Romney would pick a Hispanic running mate -- maybe even our very own Gov. Brian Sandoval, a handsome and popular moderate with all the right professional and ethnic credentials. The experts thought a guy like Sandoval could help the GOP make some headway with Hispanic voters, who broke big for Obama in 2008.
Then Sandoval's name vanished from the veep speculation and Romney picked Paul Ryan. But Sandoval still had a chance to redeem himself with a knockout speech at the Republican National Convention. He got six minutes in prime time, in the middle of a line-up of GOP governors.
And boy was that speech was a snoozer. Sandoval invoked his humble beginnings, and the value of both immigrants and the rule of law. He did not mention his position on abortion (pro-choice) or his early support for Texas Gov. Rick Perry. He mentioned "The Battle-born State" to scattered and unenthusiastic applause, which many reflect the unpopularity of our state's Ron Paul Republicans, who staged a mini-uprising earlier in the day. Frankly, the wonky Paul protesters created more of a stir than Sandoval, who served the crowd a plate full of warmed-over conservative platitudes. By the time he finished, it was clear that Sandoval lacks the charisma to counterbalance Romney's robotic demeanor.
In fact, a Slate rundown of local coverage of gubernatorial speakers omitted Sandoval altogether.
It was Sandoval's big chance to make a case as a national figure: The Hispanic Republican to watch. But it seems like he's ceded that role to U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. It doesn't mean that cabinet or Supreme Court appointments are out of the question for Sandoval. It doesn't take a lot of charisma to compete with Justice Clarence Thomas. Maybe Sandoval can take some lessons from U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, who may not be very charming, but never gets upstaged by his state delegation.