Will Romney's VP Pick Excite the GOP?

National Journal

The biggest question looming over Mitt Romney during the combative Republican primary was whether he would be able to unite the party. How could the former governor of true-blue Massachusetts and a onetime supporter of abortion rights, gay rights, and health insurance mandates excite the Republican faithful?

Yet what is known about Romney's vice presidential search suggests that he doesn't think his ability to excite voters is a problem. The names at the top of the presumed short list—Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal—are solid Republicans more likely to let the establishment rest easy than to make the rank-and-file stand up. None of these would overshadow Romney, nor would they make voters like him any more or less than they already do.

Republicans who can stir an audience, such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, appear to have dropped out of contention. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who raised the roof at Romney's donor retreat in Utah and led a Fox News poll of potential running mates, also seems to have fallen off the map.

One thing about Romney's top choices: All of them are palatable. The same could be said of the conservative movement's view of Romney. The segment of the party that put him through the ringer during the primary before finally accepting him as inevitable is largely deferring to his discretion in the vice presidential search. Read more

--Beth Reinhard  

NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRESIDENTIAL RACE REPORT

Campaigns Pause Following Colorado Shooting  
[National Journal, 7/20/12] The campaigns suspended activity on Friday following a massacre at a Colorado movie theater that left 12 dead and dozens wounded. After delivering remarks calling the shooting "evil" and "senseless," President Obama canceled a second appearance in Florida. In New Hampshire, Romney called it a "hateful act." Both campaigns pulled negative ads in Colorado.

Romney Kept Reins at Bain, Bargained Hard on Severance
[Boston Globe, 7/20/12] Interviews with a half-dozen of Romney’s former partners and associates, as well as public records, show that Romney was not merely an absentee owner during the period after his leave in February 1999. Also: How the campaigns are trying to leverage the Bain divide.

Where Obama and Romney Stand on Gun Control  
[Washington Post, 7/20/12] Obama has promised not to mess with gun-owners’ rights, but has advocated for stricter regulation. Romney supported background checks and a ban on some assault weapons in Massachusetts, but more recently has said he does not support any gun-control legislation. The candidates’ positions on gun control seem unlikely to change in response to the Colorado shooting.

Would Pawlenty Put Minnesota Within Romney’s Reach?  
[New York Times, 7/20/12] Probably not. Tim Pawlenty is one of those names being bandied about for veep, but FiveThirtyEight gives Romney only a 7 percent chance of winning the state. Still, some good county analysis in this write-up.

Republicans Double Obama's Ad Spending 
[National Journal, 7/20/12] Romney and his allies are spending nearly twice as much on television advertisements this week than Obama and his supporters. Obama's campaign is only outspending Republicans in one state, Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, the campaign for the White House just crossed the $1 billion fundraising threshold.

Marco Rubio: Nine Things You Didn't Know About Him
[ABC News, 7/20/12] Did you know that Rubio's wife was a former Miami Dolphins cheerleader, or that his first job was to build cages for exotic birds? ABC has more interesting facts about the man who is one of the top contenders for Romney's veep pick.

Romney: The Man Without a Past 
[National Journal, 7/20/12] Romney has not only renounced many of his previous positions, he also refuses to divulge many details about what is his main qualification for the White House: his successful career in private equity. National Journal’s Michael Hirsh delves into Romney’s shrouded past.

Romney’s Secrecy Becomes Focus of Obama’s Attack Strategy
[Reuters, 7/20/12] Team Obama is casting Romney as a mysterious figure who is guarding important secrets about his wealth and work history—a similar line of attack to the one Obama overcame in 2008. Meanwhile, experts say that Romney would be foolish not to take advantage of overseas tax laws.

Legal Battles Erupt Over Tough Voter-ID Laws
[New York Times, 7/19/12] Out of the 33 states that have passed laws requiring identification for voting, five have “strict” requirements, meaning voters must present specific kinds of photo ID's before voting. Whether true or not, the focus on what opponents call “suppression” of minority voters is accelerating as the election looms.

Ad Spending Speaks Louder Than Words
[National Journal, 7/20/12] Even though Romney says he’s making a play for Wisconsin, Republicans and their allies aren’t putting their money where their mouths are: Romney and his allies have spent more than $186 million on TV advertising across 13 states, but they’ve spent just $2.7 million on Wisconsin. 

Obama Faces Uphill Battle to Win Repeat Victory in Florida
[The Hill, 7/20/12] While voters in Florida bought into “hope and change” in 2008, they seem more skeptical now. On a swing through the Sunshine State, which has seen high unemployment and an underwater housing market, Obama is confronting an increasingly disappointed electorate.

Are Obama and Romney Targeting the Swing Vote? Maybe Not
[Los Angeles Times, 7/20/12] Recent ads accusing Obama of dissing private enterprise or insinuating that Romney is hiding something in his tax records may be aimed not at persuading swing voters, but at revving up each candidate’s base.

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