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Veepstakes PM: 'Completely committed'

From NBC/NJ's Matthew E. Berger and Carrie Dann
THE SHORT LIST:
Sen. Hillary Clinton said on a Web chat that she was "completely committed" to helping Obama. She said she would "respect the privacy of that process" by not speaking about the veep speculation.

Per NBC's Lauren Appelbaum, McCain praised former Rep. Rob Portman in an interview with NBC affiliate WLIO in Lima, Ohio: "We're just doing the process that you have to go through and if we mention names, then there's endless speculation. But I have been asked about Rob Portman here in Ohio. And certainly I have not said anything except Rob Portman is one of the next generation of leaders of our party. But, I'm sorry that we can't mention any names or where we are in this process. I'm sorry. I apologize."

Obama said his team and Clinton's team were working out details about whether she'd be placed in nomination: "I don't think we're looking for catharsis. I think what we are looking for is energy and excitement about the prospects of changing this country, and I think that people who supported a whole range of different candidates during the primaries are going to come out of that convention feeling absolutely determined that we have to take the White House back."

ON THE RECORD:
An Ohio voter had some unsolicited vice presidential advice for John McCain Thursday. "I lay awake at night worrying," the man asked. "You get these reports on television that it's a neck and neck race. I would like to see a landslide victory for you, and I'd like to vote in November for a McCain/Rice ticket." Others shouted "Romney" and "Lieberman."

Former Gov. Mitt Romney said he is angry the Chinese government revoked the visa of Joey Cheek, a former Olympian who is working for peace in Sudan. "I hope the Chinese government is able to reconsider this," Romney said in a phone interview between flights in Washington. "Joey Cheek is by no means an out-of-control radical. He's a very serious, sober, responsible individual, and his support for human rights certainly can't be in any way a detraction from the games."

WHAT THEY'RE UP TO:
Clinton will campaign for Obama at Green Valley High School in Henderson, NV Friday.

Portman will lead the U.S. delegation to Santo Domingo on Aug. 16 for the inauguration of the new president of the Dominican Republican. He will be joined by former major league baseball player Julio Franco and New York Mets general manager Omar Minaya.

The Chicago Tribune's Swamp reports: "John McCain is scheduled to return to Pennsylvania Monday for a two-day swing through the western and central part of the state, this time with former Gov. Tom Ridge at his side."

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty will host his weekly radio show on WCCO 830 AM.

BUZZ METER:
The National Review looks at dark horse candidate Frederick W. Smith. "While Smith's life story and hands-on experience managing a large, successful corporation in the era of globalization would be a lovely addition to any future administration, Smith's potential flaws as a running mate are clear. He has never held elected office, nor sought it, which would complicate the "experience" charge used against Obama."

Bet you'd never heard of Shirkieville, Indiana (pop. 50), but veep buzz over hometown boy Sen. Evan Bayh reached a crescendo there this week. "'Everybody's pretty sure that he's going to get it,' said Carolyn Powers, co-owner of the Midway Bar and Grill in the heart of Shirkieville. 'It would put the Midway on the map, wouldn't it?'"

CHATTERING CLASS:
Pawlenty's visit to Washington got mixed reviews. "the New York Times, calls it "low voltage," but the Washington Post's Dana Milbank terms it a "strong audition" for the veepstakes."