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Veepstakes: Veep picks have limited impact

The Hill reports: "Controversial votes to crack down on illegal immigrants could hurt the chances of Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) or Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) landing on the Republican presidential ticket. The two men are rising stars in the GOP believed to be on the shortlist of possible running mates for Mitt Romney. But their prospects could be endangered by their votes on legislation that pro-immigrant advocates describe as “mean-spirited” and still sparks anger among Hispanic voters. This could boost Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who has less experience in Washington and is considered relatively untested. Rubio, the Senate’s only Hispanic Republican, is working on an alternative to the Democrats’ DREAM Act, which could serve as a bridge to Hispanic voters."

AYOTTE: “Despite rampant speculation, some of those who know Ayotte best – Republican politicians from New Hampshire - say they doubt Ayotte will be chosen, whether because of her inexperience or her home state.” -- more from MassLive.com “She hasn’t been there long enough to do it,” said Doug Scamman, a former New Hampshire House speaker who hosted Romney’s presidential campaign launch at his farm. “I don’t see it happening.”

CHRISTIE: "Two Republican governors at the center of vice presidential speculation are well-liked by voters in their home states, according to two polls released this week. Fifty-six percent of registered voters in New Jersey approve of the job that the blunt, garrulous Gov. Chris Christie is doing, a poll conducted by Fairleigh Dickinson University found. That’s the highest approval rating he has garnered since taking office. A year ago, only 44% of voters said they approved of Mr. Christie’s job performance," The Wall Street Journal notes. "Meanwhile, the more restrained Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell is just as popular—but might be headed in the wrong direction. A Washington Post poll found that 56% of voters approve of the job he’s doing. That’s six percentage points fewer than a year ago."

MCDONNELL: The Gov. says he is not being vetted as VP during a Washington Examiner editorial board meeting -- The vice presidential speculation is “actually Romney’s fault," McDonnell joked during a meeting with the Washington Examiner's editorial board. He recalled that at a fundraiser last year, Romney mentioned him at a Virginia Beach fundraiser as a possible vice presidential choice along with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. "And my life’s been miserable ever since.” In the same meeting, McDonnell also said Obama is more organized than Romney in his state: "The ground game's not there yet," McDonnell said.

PORTMAN: "According to the new Quinnipiac University Poll, "Adding Sen. Rob Portman to the Romney ticket produces no measurable change, despite speculation about Portman's potential for helping Romney carry the key state of Ohio," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling institute."

NBC's Andrew Rafferty notes Buzzfeed compiled a list of 15 interesting facts about the senator. DID YOU KNOW  -- During the 1980s, Portman smuggled a kayak into China to ride the Yangtza River?

RUBIO: NBC's Libby Leist reports Marco Rubio lashed out Wednesday at the series of political votes that have been taking place on the Senate floor this election year -  the latest being the student loan interest rate bill that was blocked by Republicans on Tuesday. He said the Senate's agenda is why people are "grossed out by politics."

The Orlando Sentinel: "Even before he unveils the details, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio's compromise proposal to legalize the children of undocumented immigrants is drawing political attacks from the right and deep skepticism from the left. The Florida Republican's plunge into the explosive politics of immigration has sparked admiration from some undocumented young people, who welcome his promised attempt to help them live and work here legally without encouraging more illegal migrations. But politically, Rubio faces a minefield. Some of the harshest attacks came this week from conservative radio broadcasters who gathered in Washington from South Florida and across the country — in a radio blitz dubbed "Hold Their Feet to the Fire" — to demand tougher immigration enforcement at borders and work sites."

POLITICO points out the not-so-subtle coincidence that the junior senator from Florida just happens to be speaking to important groups from the early voting states: Today the Florida Republican will address nearly 200 political, business and community leaders from Des Moines at a Washington hotel. Next week, he’ll fly to Columbia and headline the South Carolina GOP’s Silver Elephant Dinner — a critical stop for presidential candidates, from Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush to John McCain. Rubio’s choice of speaking engagements is no accident: The much-sought-after senator turns down dozens of invitations and hundreds of media requests each month.

RYAN: The Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin reports from the first part of her interview with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.): Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) isn’t saying anything about the vice-presidential nomination that he hasn’t said over and over again. His attitude these days is that it is somebody’s else decision down the road, and the chatter only takes the focus off the substance of the presidential race.