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Veepstakes: Let the vetting begin

“Mitt Romney’s campaign has begun vetting running mates, a process that will narrow his list of possible veep picks,” The Hill writes. “The team for Beth Myers, the Romney adviser leading the search for the GOP’s vice presidential nominee, has already contacted potential running mates, according to a source close to the Romney campaign.” Rubio, Ryan, and Portman all declined to talk about the process, but when Sen. John Thune was asked he said he hadn’t been contacted.

National Journal comes out with its updated veepstakes rankings. No. 1 remains Rob Portman. Moving up the list to No. 2 surprisingly – Bobby Jindal. Down to No. 3, Marco Rubio, No. 4 Ryan, No. 5 Pawlenty, No. 6 “Wildcard,” No. 7 Mitch Daniels, No. 8 Chris Christie, No. 9 Bob McDonnell, No. 10 Kelly Ayotte.

AYOTTE: She voted to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, something some Republicans were against, though it passed 78-20.

JINDAL: Ready, aim… An opinion piece in Daily Caller from the head of communications for the American Tort Reform Association goes after Jindal: “Jindal’s past is full of troubling ties to the parasitic personal injury bar. In fact, it wasn’t until yesterday that the governor’s office finally weighed in, if still unconvincingly, on a long-running statehouse wrangle over tort reform legislation that is key to Louisiana’s future as a major energy producer.” More: Assuming Bobby Jindal may wish to seek a political future on the national stage someday, he’ll eventually be forced to choose between seeking support from pro-growth tort reformers or from the growth-sapping, job-killing litigation industry. What’s he waiting for?

MCDONNELL: “At a time when his vice presidential stock has fallen below other potential picks, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell is focusing on one of his policy wheelhouses while trying to appeal to concerns about results-oriented governing,” National Journal writes. “Last week, McDonnell took part in a bill-signing ceremony at the Annandale campus of Northern Virginia Community College in his native Fairfax County during the second day of his statewide ‘Virginia: Growing Strong’ tour. He inked into law eight bills meant to curb both sexual and domestic violence as well as human trafficking. After reading a description of each bill in his signature low-pitched monotone, McDonnell concluded, ‘That's a lot of information but that's also a lot of accomplishments.’”

PAWLENTY: “After telling political observers Monday to “remove my name from the list” of potential Mitt Romney running mates, Tim Pawlenty sounded more open to joining the Republican presidential ticket on Thursday,” the Boston Globe writes. Pawlenty said on Andrea Mitchell Reports: “He’s going to have a lot of great people to pick from. Obviously, anyone would be honored to serve if asked.”

PORTMAN: Maybe Portman’s inability to make news is his biggest asset: “Many in the political world want to play the vice presidential guessing game, but Sen. Rob Portman has been intent on giving them no new material to work with,” the Wall Street Journal’s Seib writes.

RICE: Condoleezza Rice again rules out being Romney’s VP. “Not going to happen,” she said in Chicago yesterday, per NBC Chicago. “I love policy, I don’t really love politics. … One can do a lot with policy not in Washington.”

RUBIO: Lois Romano sits down with the Rubios.

RYAN: He sat down the Washington Examiner’s editorial board yesterday. He wouldn’t talk about veep vetting. "I'm not getting into that, I'm not changing any of my answers," he said. “I get asked this every time I walk down the street, I'm not giving you any answers." Striking a pragmatic streak, Ryan said, “It's no good being a conservative and giving great speeches at AEI, if you can't move the center of gravity in these debates and put these ideas in practice."

And: He said the GOP has a "narrowing window of opportunity" to act on the fiscal issues he’s pushed. He said, "I'm in a good position to make a difference, and I think I've done that, and that's what I'm focused on, so I'm not trying to audition or say this position or that position. I think that we've done a lot right now where we are and I want to see this thing through."

NBC's Alex Moe contributed to this report.