The search for VP is a harrowing job, but somebody (*cough* Beth Myers *cough*) has got to do it! We can tell a lot about how the vetting process is going by who Romney’s been paling around with on the Campaign Trail and who is sustaining the overall media buzz.
Top Tier Contenders…
Marco Rubio: Marco Rubio picks up a lot of steam this week as Romney tells reporters that he IS, in fact, being “thoroughly vetted” by his advisors! Admissions like this are rare, but Romney didn’t like people speculating that Rubio was “off the list,” apparently. Rubio himself has been busy keeping up momentum — with his book tour, media appearances, public consternation for Eric Holder and defense of Mitt’s immigration policies. For the record, he was invited to the Romney retreat, but wanted to “spend time with his family” after some time on his whirlwind book tour. We say… a test-drive of life-on-the-campaign-trail perhaps?
Tim Pawlenty: The Wall Street Journal reports that “attention increasingly is turning to Tim Pawlenty.” The former Minnesota governor was once battling Romney in primary season to be the president — which would suggest that he is fit for the national stage. (Romney has repeatedly said this is of top concern to him.) After dropping out of the race, Pawlenty was an “early adopter” of Romney and the WSJ reports that “privately, some Romney campaign officials have offered that Mr. Pawlenty has impressed them with his work… on the campaign trail and with the press.” The Romney camp could easily paint T-Paw as “the hockey-playing son of a St. Paul, Minneapolis truck driver,” which would be a good contrast to Romney’s wealth and could potentially help him in states like Minnesota and neighboring Iowa. One Republican consultant told Politico that Pawlenty was the sort of guy who could put a supporter in a playful headlock… just a regular sort of Joe the people could relate to. A Romney campaign official explained that T-Paw was “great with Conservatives but doesn’t scare off women” — two important voting blocs. He was recently invited on Romney’s
Rob Portman: Politico reports that “some Romney confidants” say Portman would make a better Chief of Staff than VP nominee because he’s a boring “establishment” kind of guy. According to AP, Portman is an “experienced Washington hand” who “represents a key swing state” and is “respected across the Republican Party.” However, he is not very well-known or charismatic, they say. He’s loved and trusted. He could take over as President in the blink of an eye and he could be helpful in his home state of Ohio — but it’s unlikely he will cause much national fanfare among voters. The latest Gallup Poll says 62 percent of the country has never heard of him, 15 percent of voters have no opinion of him, and only 12 percent of voters surveyed said they like him. Even so, his campaign stops with Romney in the state of Ohio this past weekend are continuing to fuel the VP speculation.
Paul Ryan:Moments ago, Robert Costa from The National Review reported that he is “reliably informed” that Paul Ryan has submitted paperwork and is being vetted by Romney’s team. Republican House Whip Kevin McCarthy urges Romney to “stop dilly-dallying” and pick the young Conservative from Wisconsin already. “I think he’d be a pick for independents, Democrats, and Republicans,” McCarthy explains. According to The Week, Ryan did campaign briefly with Romney in Janesville, Wisconsin, but was overshadowed by other heavyweights like Governor Scott Walker. Yet, there was talk of a Romney/Ryan “bromance” brewing during their last tour together. And more telling, perhaps, is what Ryan’s up to currently. He is one of a select few (that also includes Bobby Jindal and John Thune) to attend a retreat with Romney and his biggest financial backers in Utah this weekend. More get-to-know-you time? We think so.
John Thune:You’ve got to feel important to be invited to the “Romney Victory Founding Members Retreat.” Thune downplays that he is being considered “the dark horse VP candidate,” but adds that he doesn’t want to close any doors. As The Fiscal Times puts it, he’s “good-looking” but his “social conservative views” aren’t likely to attract women any time soon. He’s not part of a key battleground state and he has no foreign policy credentials, but he’s “highly articulate and an impressive campaigner,” they say. He’s the kind of guy you could stick anywhere in the admin and he’d do well. Yet, he is ambitious, he could pass as President, and — as political scientist Larry Sabato remarks — he represents a “double-dip cone of vanilla” on a ticket with Romney. First rule of VEEP Club: Do No Harm.
Chris Christie: Just when you thought Chris Christie had gone away, the “loud-mouthed Governor from New Jersey” is back on the campaign trail. Next week, he’ll be appearing with Romney at an event in his home state. However, The New York Times speculates that Christie may have “made a bad impression” with the Romney camp — appearing late to $5 million fundraisers and uncomfortable moments that led to Romney speaking first and introducing Christie in the grand finale. It seems that Christie finds it hard to ride in the side-car and that his larger-than-life personality could get in the way of his stab at the Vice Presidency.
The Less Likelys…
Bob McDonnell: McDonnell was the latest name mentioned on the list of schmoozers at Romney’s high-profile Utah retreat. Meanwhile, Bob hopes Romney will consider Virginia as a model for national economic success… and probably consider him for VP too. Yet, he’s dealing with his own issues now… issuing ultimatums and meddling in union airport disputes.
Rand Paul: A little over a week ago, Rand Paul came out in support of Romney and said “It would be an honor to be Romney’s VP.” Yet, in his next breath, he was publicly opposing statements made by Romney regarding war powers and foreign policy. He can kiss the Veepstakes good-bye! Or maybe he knew, deep down, there was no real hope.
Kelly Ayotte: The junior senator from New Hampshire recently appeared at Romney events in her homw state — serving up chocolate ice cream at a social event and introducing him onstage. He reportedly kissed her cheek and called her “a good friend,” but she is such a fresh face that she is seen as a long-shot. Still, she would make the argument that she has as much — if not more — experience than Barack Obama. Selling point? Not so much.
Nikki Haley: As we mentioned previously, Nikki is embroiled in her own ethics investigation. Lately, she has been diverting attention away from herself and suggesting names like Condi Rice and Bobby Jindal.
Mitch Daniels: Surprise! Purdue University has a new President — and it’s Mitch Daniels! Goodbye, Veepstakes.
Bobby Jindal: Jindal is one of a select few to get down-time in Utah with Romney this weekend. Analysts say that it’s likely Romney is looking to tap Jindal’s ability to raise money among Conservative donors. In the meantime, Jindal is fighting his own battles against public school teachers who are upset with the education reforms he recently passed.