YouTube could put a snag in Mitt Romney’s veep search

Mitt Romney now has the clearest shot at winning the Republican presidential nomination. Rick Santorum dropped out, and the remaining contenders, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, are more likely to be hit with a cartoon anvil than clinch the win. This leaves Romney now with plenty of time to attack President Obama. It also leaves Romney with the arduous task of finding an appropriate running mate.

Romney said today that he and his advisors will start the process “pretty soon,” according to GOP 12, and BuzzFeed reports that Ed Gillespie, the Romney advisor who founded American Crossroads with Karl Rove, will likely be taking the lead on the extensive search. You can’t be too careful, after all, for if John McCain taught us anything, it’s that an inexperienced, incompetent running mate can easily sink a campaign.

Team Romney’s obviously well aware of the pitfalls involved in picking a presidential candidate, but the digital culture of 2012 more than any other election, even 2008, poses unique problems. Republican operative Rick Wilson told BuzzFeed, “It’s not only about whether they paid their taxes, but are they ready to face the cameras and have they ever said anything that get used in an ad. You never had to deal with this YouTube archive before.”

“In this hyper-connected Internet world, what passed for vetting a few years ago is now grossly inadequate.” And even with online video archives and emails, there’s always the risk of a loose newsletter or embarrassing memo from the past resurfacing and being distributed far and wide. No matter how much searching Romney does, the Obama camp will be digging even deeper, and whoever the vice presidential candidate is, their world will be turned upside down. And the rest of us will be free to pick over the remnants.