Veepwatch: Place Your Bets

Posted: Aug 09, 2012 2:35 PM

Writing in the Wall Street Journal today, Karl Rove argues that Mitt Romney's current position essentially tied in national polling is a positive sign for his prospects in the fall.  For his full analysis, click through, but here is Rove's appraisal of Romney's deliberate pace in making his "first presidential decision:"

Mr. Obama's numbers are driven by the bad economy, so there's little he can do. And those who strongly disapprove of his handling of the economy vastly outnumber those who strongly approve. Mr. Romney's task is less difficult: Voters are asking if he is too rich to care about ordinary people, has a real economic plan that makes sense, and is both strong and presidential enough. That's why Team Romney appears focused on making certain his first presidential decision—picking a running mate—is done right and rolled out properly.

Ann Romney has been tweeting out teasers about her husband's VP choice, further fueling the insatiable maelstrom of media hypothesizing.  Is the big moment nearly upon us?  Where are the top contenders, and what are they up to? 

Rob Portman - Seen as a possible cipher in the must-win state of Ohio, Portman has remained a fixture in the "top three" buzz for weeks. 
But why is he saying that he's likely to remain in the Senate?

Ohio Sen. Rob Portman threw cold water on the idea of becoming Mitt Romney's running mate on Wednesday, saying he thinks he'll "end up staying" in the Senate. "I just got elected two years ago. I think that's where I'm going to end up staying," Portman said when asked his thoughts about possibly leaving the Senate and becoming vice president.

Not exactly a decisive "no" -- plus, it could be misdirection.  Isn't speculation fun?

Paul Ryan - This morning I weighed in on the relative benefits and drawbacks of putting Ryan on the ticket this morning, a debate that is picking up steam.  Liberals say they'd love to face Ryan because of the rich fodder he'd provide for their demagoguery and scare tactics.  Liberal academics are lining up to declare Ryan's budget the end of civilization, even though the opposite is closer to the truth.  Meanwhile, Ryan appeared on the Salem Radio Network's Morning In America program with Bill Bennett earlier today, and is preparing to take his family on a vacation to Colorado (a swing state!) next week.  Some have theorized that the vacation is a head-fake, designed to throw the press off the scent.  I suppose that's possible, but I'm having trouble swallowing it.

Tim Pawlenty - One of "T-Paw's" most appealing qualities to Team Romney is his authentic blue-collar biography and common touch -- elements the man at the top of the ticket conspicuously lacks.  Pawlenty brushed aside questions about the VP selection process yesterday, simply stating that "We'll know soon enough."  The former two-term Minnesota Governor is headed to New Hampshire to campaign for Romney over the weekend.  He wouldn't say if he was planning to meet with Romney's top VP vetter while he's in the neighborhood.

Bobby Jindal - The popular Louisiana Governor is stumping for Mitt Romney in Colorado today.  Also, is there anything to this?

Marco Rubio - We haven't heard too much about the promising young Senator from Florida lately, but Rudy Giuliani tossed Rubio's name back into the mix in a television interview this morning:

"I like them all. Paul Ryan -- the recent interest in Paul Ryan is -- Paul would be a terrific candidate. I kind of prefer Marco Rubio... [Romney] respects them all. He respects Gov. Pawlenty and Sen. Portman. I think they would be excellent choices. The reason I lean toward Marco is I like the idea that he's very smart, I like the idea that he's a terrific debater and speaker, all of that. But he adds the element of outreach to the Hispanic vote and outreach to young people. We need help, frankly, the Republican Party needs help in both of those areas, minorities, we need help with young people."

Bob McDonnell - After seemingly dropping off the VP cliff a few months ago, successful Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has been inching his way back into the conversation.  He's been part of the Romney campaign's welfare attacks against Obama, and he's preparing to join Romney on his bus tour of the state all day Saturday.

Chris Christie - He's supposedly in the "final four," but who really knows?  For his part, Christie is downplaying the importance of the pick altogether (while ribbing at Joe Biden), focusing instead on trumpeting his major bipartisan achievement on teacher tenure reform in New Jersey.

I'll leave you with a final, tantalizing theory from National Journal: Does Romney have a surprise ace up his sleeve?  Hmm.  Place your bets!