BLOOMBERG: Don't believe the NYC mayor and ex-CEO is interested in being Obama's second banana? Then take a look at THIS newsy NYT lead. "It was only hours after Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg finally made it clear that he was not running for president that his chief political guru, Kevin Sheekey, suggested that he would be the perfect running mate for Senator Barack Obama.
"In presenting Mr. Obama, Mr. Bloomberg pointedly noted that he had not endorsed a candidate, saying that now was the time for people to listen to the candidates' ideas. Referring to the "private breakfast" the two men shared at a Midtown coffee shop in November with a throng of news media pressed against the window, Mr. Bloomberg joked that it was his pleasure to introduce him, "and not just because he picked up the check."
"Mr. Obama had kind words for Mr. Bloomberg as well, saying that he had 'demonstrated extraordinary leadership.' He joked: 'The reason I bought breakfast is because I expected payback. I'm no dummy. The mayor was a cheap date that morning. There are some good steakhouses in this city.'"
ROMNEY: It is remarkable how much Mitt Romney is helping McCain. If you didn't believe it before, then believe it now, this guy wants the second slot... badly.
"Relaxed and tan after a little time off the campaign trail, Romney said McCain, whose credentials he once questioned, was ready to face the challenges of a fragile economy and the threat of violent jihadists. The former Massachusetts governor recently told Fox News that he would be honored to be McCain's vice president. On Thursday, he said McCain was 'without question the right person to be the next president of the United States.'
"He pledged to do whatever was necessary to convince the American people 'just how important it is to have a man of integrity, experience and capacity, who's been tested time and again, to lead our great nation.'
"McCain's advisors have cautioned that joint appearances with prominent vice presidential contenders should not be interpreted as auditions. For his part, the candidate would not comment on whether he was considering Romney or Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. -- but he lavished praise on both."