The Other McCain

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VP Tea Leaves: Is Mitt’s Short List Now Down to Pawlenty, Portman or Ryan?

Posted on | August 7, 2012 | 37 Comments

There are signals — both in terms of actual evidence and what might be called “absence of evidence” — that Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential choices have now come down to three Midwesterners: former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan.

It appears that Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has been eliminated from consideration and, most importantly, that talk of Tea Party favoirite Florida Sen. Marco Rubio as Romney’s running mate is just talk. Neither Jindal nor Rubio have taken the steps that would indicate they are finalists for the VP slot. Jindal, for example, has accepted an invitation to appear at an event during the Republican National Convention in Tampa, an acceptance he would not be able to make if he were indeed obligated to keep his schedule clear as the potential running mate.

Meanwhile, at the Weekly Standard — where Bill Kristol and Steve Hayes previously offered either Rubio or Ryan as the “bold” conservative choices for VP — the balance appears to have tipped toward Ryan, indicating that Kristol and Hayes have indications that Rubio is not among the finalists for the spot. (There has been widespread talk among GOP insiders that despite Rubio’s popularity, “vetting” proved problematic for the Florida senator.)

This week’s trial-balloon suggestions about other possible running mates — including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Gen. David Petraus — are regarded as irrelevant distractions by well-informed observers, who now believe the “veepstakes” to have been narrowed to the trio of Midwesterners. Pawlenty and Portman are viewed as the “safe” picks, while talk about a “bold” Republican choice now focuses exclusively on Ryan, the conservative chairman of the House Budget Committee. Tuesday, Robert Costa of National Review cited “sources close to the Romney campaign” as saying that Ryan had risen from “dark horse” to “contender” for the running-mate pick.

Conservatives pushing Romney to go “bold” have a key ally in Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, a Wisconsinite who is said to be quietly exercising home-state influence on Ryan’s behalf. Meanwhile, there may be bad blood brewing between the two “safe” alternatives: Some supporters of Portman blame the Pawlenty camp for pushing reports that Portman once worked as a lobbyist for notorious Haitian dictator “Baby Doc” Duvalier. (ABC News debunked that claim last month.)

How much longer will the GOP veepstakes speculation continue? Probably not too long. Some say Romney’s pick could be announced as early as Wednesday, but the Weekly Standard points to Thursday as the likely day, while Republican strategist Karl Rove says not to expect a selection before Friday.

UPDATE: Alex Moe of NBC News reported today that Paul Ryan’s planning a “vacation.” Just a coincidence?


  • datou1

    I like Ryan, Portman and T-Paw in that order.  Ryan is the man with the motivation to focus on cutting the debt, govt spending and entitlements.  Portman’s got a strong conservative pedigree and is not as dull as the media makes him out to be.  T-Paw is meh.

  • Charles

    Tim Pawlenty’s Problem is an Empty Parking Lot


  • Charles

  • CO

    Is he choosing Ryan because he’s hot or to pull his trouble making (for the country club) asterisk from the House?

    As for the other two, does TPOS Rove really think they will carry the South?

  • Evilbloggerlady

    Mitt: Go Bold.

  • MrPaulRevere

    Portman strikes me as this generations Bob Dole. I’ll take a pass TYVM.

  • ThePaganTemple

    I’d like to see him pick Rick Perry.

  • Evilbloggerlady

    I am not sure why you would like that.  I have nothing against Rick Perry, but I see him adding nothing to Romney winning.  Even less than T-Paw.  

    That is not particularly fair (he has been a competent governor), but Rick hurt himself in the primaries.  So he is damaged good for the immediate future.  

  • CPAguy

    Rick Perry is a liberal who was convinced by Dick Cheney to run as a Republican riding George Bush’s coattails.

  • Thane_Eichenauer

    I support Thomas Hendricks for VP.  

  • Thane_Eichenauer
  • Adjoran

    Any “sources” anyone has at this point in the Romney camp are putting out exactly what he wants out right now.  Sometimes this is done to throw the press and pundits off the track to give a surprise twist with the naming.  Other times it is a trial balloon to see how the base reacts, or if a dozen young girls – or boys – come out of the woodwork.

    The problem is you can never tell which purpose is being pursued, or even if another, just to keep speculation and interest high, for example, is the real reason.

    So it’s all just speculation.  Kristol and Hayes are good pundits, but they don’t have better sources in the Romney camp than anyone else, and I bet there are only a handful who even know if a decision has been made.

    Maybe Ryan’s going on vacation because . . . it’s August, Congress is in recess, and his kids are out of school.  Sometimes a camping trip is just a camping trip.

  • TR

    Ryan’s fundraising letters keep coming (and I am in PA!).  They have the striking resemblance in design and content to Romney’s begging letters.  I get about 2 per day from Romney, and one or two per week from Ryan.  (My small donations are probably used up just for on-going postage).  Zero leters from T-paw and Rubio has stopped sending them also.  Maybe Ryan and Romney are sharing lists and sharing the same begging GOP fundraising company?  Maybe Mitt wants to see if Paul Ryan can pull in some cash?  You know, like the teacher saying there will be quiz? lol.

    I would be thrilled if Ryan was picked.  He is 10X smarter than the others and has already faced down Obama fearlessly in several one-on-one opportunites.  He is a wonk but he has won 7X in his district.  His dinner speech at CPAC 2012 was an education, not an endless list of his accomplishments (like Jindal).  All the 70 year old female Rombots at my table were swooning for Paul Ryan.  Go Ryan!

  • McGehee

    Mitt Romney will choose someone he feels comfortable working with the next four years. That has never been in question.

    Those expecting him to “go bold” and step out of his comfort zone will be sorely disappointed.

  • rosalie

    But will Ryan be able to focus on those things if he’s VP.  Wouldn’t he be better off where he is?

  • sheryl

     Good point, however; the people have to vote first to enable them to work together.  He moved out of his comfort zone to run for the presidency. The GOP could be sorely disappointed if he does indeed choose someone that does not add to the ticket.

    The VP never much mattered before, until 2008. The GOP has been disregarding their base for many years, we are used to it.

    With the country in the fiscal mess it is in today, this election should be a slam dunk for the GOP. It is not, that is pretty scarey. Personally I would suggest he do something very bold.

    Of course I will add one thing. I lived through Carter, Obama is worse than anything Carter attempted to do. If Obama wins in this climate then the electorate has changed to one of an entitlement society. We go the way of Europe, a once free people who ushered in socialism with no real way to get it back. If indeed the electorate of this country has changed it does not matter who the republican nominee is, it will not matter for many years to come. If Obama can win in this climate, we are in far worse shape than we even imagined.

  • Bob Belvedere

    Vote For Zombie Tom!

  • Bob Belvedere

    Not if Larry Craig goes along.

  • datou1

    My understanding (might be wrong) is that  Ryan is term limited as Budget Committee Chairman so he might as well go for it if asked.  I also don’t think there is a need for a “Southern strategy” as the country is so polarized on a left-right axis.

  • ThePaganTemple

    They are two big names who would unite the party factions and win big.

  • Mortimer Snerd

    “Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential choices have now come down to three Midwesterners: former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan.”

    So Romney has decided to adopt the “dull, boring white man strategy?”  Interesting!

  • Mortimer Snerd

    “If indeed the electorate of this country has changed it does not matter who the republican nominee is, it will not matter for many years to come. If Obama can win in this climate, we are in far worse shape than we even imagined.”

    Sadly, your analysis is correct, Sheryl.  The electorate has changed.  The inexorable march of demographics is the key, and I see little hope of fighting it.

  • Christy Waters

    Damn, I want Paul Ryan so so so so so so bad… Um, I mean to be VP. Pawlenty would be a huge mistake, and I don’t know enough about Portman to have an opinion on him. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Romney picks someone who isn’t even on the radar.

  • Mortimer Snerd

    Hmmm.  The “dead white man” strategy.  Good thinking!

  • Evilbloggerlady

    There was a guy who moved out to the country whose nearest neighbor was half a mile away.  The neighbor came over to invite him to a party telling him:  There will be drinking, and fighting, and dancing and probably some love makin.  
    Intrigued, the guy who just moved in said great, what could he bring.  
    “Oh, just something for the two of us” said the neighbor.  It will just be us at the party.  

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  • M. Thompson

    As a loyal Minnesotan, I’d like T-Paw, if only so we don’t vote for Obama en-mass, although he’s lost the Iron Range already.  However, what does he really add to the ticket is the question?  And not much is the answer to that.
    Ryan wouldn’t be bad, but then actual leadership is needed at all levels.  That’s the problem there.

    Portman is the establishment’s man, FWIW.

  • SDN

     Maybe so, but I’ll take what he and George Bush have done for the TX economy. And it’s not every governor that started a “river navy” for the TX Rangers on the Rio Grande.

  • Mortimer Snerd

    “Ryan is the man with the motivation to focus on cutting the debt, govt spending and entitlements.”

    Apparently he has had a change of heart since he voted for TARP, NCLB, Medicare Part D and the auto industry bailout?

  • McGehee

    He moved out of his comfort zone to run for the presidency.

    Not by much. This has been on his to-do list longer than it was on Obama’s.

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  • Saul

    Somebody [wink, wink] once said:

    There is nothing — nothing — in politics that is less useful than pundits sitting around blathering about who the presidential nominee is going to choose as his running mate.

    And this puff piece is a classic of the media veepstakes speculation genre. Olympic-level semantic gymnastics to avoid attribution, which is always a tell that the journalist’s primary source is his imagination. Nothing substantive from anyone who might actually know something about whom Romney is considering — not that voters would care if there were. I’ll give you a dollar for every Obama voter for whom the selection of Biden tipped the balance.

  • Beeblebrocs

    I really hope it’s not Pawlenty because after the 100th time of reading “T-paw” in threads like this, I’m already tired of the guy.

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