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?