“With Mitt Romney back in the U.S., the chattering classes are turning their attention to the next milestone in the general election race: the unveiling of the Republican candidate’s running mate,” the New York Daily News. “Politicos are circling August 10 on their calendars, when CNN reports Romney will roll out on a four-day bus tour of key swing states. The tentative schedule includes stops in Virginia, North Carolina and Florida. The campaign is also looking at possible stops in Ohio, CNN said.”
Politico: “Veepstakes: What if Romney rolled the dice?” “When it comes to the veepstakes, the conventional wisdom is pretty well set: Rob Portman, Tim Pawlenty, Bobby Jindal. Those in the know, or who pretend to be in the know, generally agree that Mitt Romney — a cautious politician running a risk-averse campaign — will probably choose his running mate from that group of oft-discussed, fairly widely accepted short-listers. But why not a surprise pick — a wild-card choice that could help Romney in battleground states or with particular demographics that some of the current favorites couldn’t?”
It notes that other Republicans have bucked the traditional-pick trend – not just McCain – Dole picked Jack Kemp, H.W. Bush picked Dan Quayle. The wildcards Politico lists: Michael Bloomberg, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Meg Whitman, Chris Christie, Susana Martinez, David Petraeus.
AYOTTE: “Earlier this week, John McCain and Kelly Ayotte hit up Nashua, New Hampshire to stump against sequestration, but as the Boston Herald notes, some Republicans thought the pairing was a bad, political move,” GOP 12 writes. “‘I’m not sure if you’re Kelly Ayotte you want John McCain mentioning you on the short list. If it weren’t for Sarah Palin, I believe there would be much more interest in Kelly Ayotte,’ said Patrick Griffin, a Republican consultant who worked for both George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush’s presidential campaigns.”
PAWLENTY: Did Tim Pawlenty steal his foam/beer analogy from another Minnesota politico on the other side of the aisle? MN Public Radio has a striking discovery.
PORTMAN: He’s trying to re-write history a bit and distance himself from Bush: “Alexander Bolton reports on The Hill's exclusive interview with Rob Portman, in which the top Veep prospect talks about being "frustrated" during his time as George W. Bush's budget director,” GOP 12 writes. From The Hill: “Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who served as former President George W. Bush’s budget director, sought this week to distance himself from his former boss by saying he was ‘frustrated’ in the high-profile post. .... ‘I was frustrated when I was there about some spending issues — specifically, as you know, I wanted to offer a balanced budget over five years, and a lot of people didn’t,’ he said in the interview, noting the decision to submit a balanced budget was ultimately the president’s. ‘I prevailed. The president sent his budget — not my budget, his budget — a five-year balanced budget. But it was a fight, internally.’”
Let’s just remember here: Portman owes his political career to the Bushes more than anyone or anything else.
RUBIO: He’ll be in Orlando, FL, today for a Romney rally.
The Miami Herald reports that Rubio's PAC will be very active in supporting candidates this fall. And he also had this to say about the new Romney VP app: "I think it's pretty cool. I think it's a good way to announce it," said Rubio, who will be campaigning on Romney's behalf tomorrow in Orlando. Rubio was mum on any other questions surrounding the pick, though. And as for the question whether he has enough experience to be vice president? "I get more experience every day," he said.
He will also throw a Tampa fundraiser the first night of the RNC convention, Politico reports, dubbed “Paint the Senate Red Fundraising Bash.”
Buzzfeed lists off five republicans still pushing for Rubio, but The Hill reports on one GOP senator who thinks his time has not yet come.
And press release: Rubio wants to eliminate taxes for the compensation US Olympic athletes earn for medaling. “Our tax code is a complicated and burdensome mess that too often punishes success, and the tax imposed on Olympic medal winners is a classic example of this madness,” said Rubio. “Athletes representing our nation overseas in the Olympics shouldn’t have to worry about an extra tax bill waiting for them back home.
RYAN: S.E. Cupp likes Paul Ryan.
His name has certainly continued to gain attention for VP lately and today he got the backing of fmr. George W. Bush’s speechwriter who notes: “There are certainly other outstanding picks Romney could make. But if Romney decides to pick someone in the mold of Dick Cheney – someone that combines Cheney’s gravitas with Cheney’s conservative credibility – he could not go wrong with Paul Ryan.”
“Vice President Buzz Around Paul Ryan Swells To Crescendo,” Mediaite writes in a wrap up.
NBC’s Alex Moe and Andrew Rafferty contributed to this report.