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Obama camp asks supporters to dish dirt on possible Romney veeps


As speculation abounds about Mitt Romney's selection for a running mate, the Obama campaign is revving the engines to ensure its supporters in the home states of the possible picks are ready to dish some local dirt.

In emails to supporters in Ohio, Florida, and Minnesota, Obama for America invites critics of hometown pols Sen. Rob Portman, Sen. Marco Rubio, and former Gov. Tim Pawlenty to "share what you think Americans need to know about" the could-be vice presidential candidates.

An email to Obama for America's Minnesota supporters calls Pawlenty "our former governor and 'Obamneycare' critic" and asks if the onetime presidential candidate "will really be Mitt Romney's running mate."

"Most Americans don't know Tim Pawlenty," the email reads. "But as a Minnesotan, you do -- and the truth is painful for the middle-class families who lived under his leadership. Like Romney, Pawlenty proved that when he's in charge, fees and taxes go up, job creation goes down, transparency gets worse, and women's rights are threatened."

The message: Those who know the talked-about running mates need to spread the word to a nation that doesn't know much about the "disaster" each would be as Romney's partner in the White House.

An email to Floridians dumps a sampling of opposition research on Rubio: "In the Florida State House, Rubio balanced the budget by sticking it to the middle class. And in the Senate, Rubio's led the way on almost every extreme position Mitt Romney has embraced. If chosen as Romney's VP, we can count on Rubio to lead us right back to the failed economic policies of the past. Remember -- this is the guy who called George W. Bush a ‘fantastic’ president."

A similar message was sent to Ohio Obama backers about Sen. Rob Portman: "The most damning pieces of his record involve choices he made as a senior member of the Bush-Cheney administration and conservative congressman, the consequences of which still reverberate on a national scale."

The message continued: "As one of the architects of the top-down Bush budget, Portman practically invented the policies that punished middle-class families while exploding the deficit, and crashing our economy."

Each email contains a link to a clearinghouse site where participants can, for example, "share what you think the rest of the country should know about what Rubio's really done in Florida -- the good, bad, and ugly -- and why he'd be a disaster as our next vice president."

The grassroots communication effort is similar to one launched by the Obama campaign during the GOP primaries.

So far, none of the other possible picks - like Wisconsin's Paul Ryan, Louisiana's Bobby Jindal, or New Jersey's Chris Christie - have received the same treatment. But as the buzz picks up, more such efforts could be on the way.

NBC's Andrew Rafferty contributed to this report.