'You Get a Job Offer Yet?'

Pawlenty Auditions for V.P.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) said Wednesday that the GOP has been losing "market share" and argued that his party needs to broaden its appeal.

"We want to be the party of Sam's Club, not just the country club," said Pawlenty. "People deserve and expect a more effective government at a better price."

In his appearance before the National Press Club, the Minnesota governor demonstrated why he is believed to be on McCain's short-list for V.P.: while he lacks Mitt Romney's ties to the mega-battleground state of Michigan, Pawlenty has a knack for encapsulating the Arizona senator's policies under the theme of delivering better "value" for middle-class families.

Consistent with McCain's support for redirecting $1 billion to digital education, Pawlenty touted on-line learning as a way to reduce the cost of higher education.

"Why would you drive from Stillwater, Minnesota, in January an hour in rush hour to get over to the University of Minnesota campus, park in a remote parking lot, strap on your back pack, haul across campus in challenging weather conditions, get into a lecture hall, unpack, sit in a chair and have a sometimes gifted -- sometimes not -- assistant professor, lecture you on Economics 101 when you can't even pay for it?"

"Why would you not get out of bed, pour yourself a cup of coffee, sit on your sofa, and dial it up on digital storage from any university in the world?" he asked. "The marginal cost of educating a student in a class like that, once it's up and running, is zero."

"For many of these classes," he emphasized, "we could cut the cost of higher education by 70, 80, or 90 percent."

On health care, Pawlenty did not advocate any specific reforms but echoed McCain in arguing that rising costs stem from consumers having "no knowledge of cost and quality."

On K-12 education, Pawlenty joined McCain in touting school choice.

He also echoed McCain in calling for changes to the ways in which teachers are certified and paid.

During the question-and-answer period, Pawlenty said that the nation needs to move away from its reliance on the gas tax for funding transportation infrastructure.

"We're going to have to be more creative," said Pawlenty. "Oregon has had a pilot project, I'm not sure what to think of it yet because the results aren't in, but they're charging by miles driven."

"It is preferentially priced," he added, "to encourage more hybrid and fuel efficient vehicles. . . . We'll keep an eye on that with the idea that the gas tax is going to be politically untenable" and of "diminishing" value as a tool of public policy.

Asked if the United States has made enough progress in Iraq to set a timetable for withdrawal, Pawlenty echoed McCain in supporting a conditions-based withdrawal.

"I do not believe that setting arbitrary timelines for withdrawal would be wise in light of the fragile situation that exists in Iraq," said Pawlenty. "It has to be at a time and under circumstances where Iraq is stable enough to defend itself and govern itself and not fall back into chaos."

Bayh Gets Face Time with Obama

After telling the Indianapolis Star on Tuesday that he knew of "no plans for a private meeting" with Barack Obama during the nominee's trip to Indiana, Evan Bayh got more than an hour of face-time with the man who could put him a heartbeat away from the presidency.

Following a town-hall meeting in Elkhart, Ind., Bayh was invited to join Obama on the presumptive Democratic nominee's campaign bus, which comes from "myluxurybus.com."

The two Midwestern Democrats went to Portage, Ind., to meet and greet diners at Schoops Hamburgers, known to locals as Schoops Portage.

Per a pool report prepared by The Wall Street Journal's Chris Cooper, "most everyone inside" the diner "was in on the joke: they all knew Obama and Bayh were coming. They heard from their momma down at City Hall, from local reporters, the mailman, via the usual Mayberry grapevine."

Passing a table of steelworkers, local Tony Capriglione shouted out at Bayh, "you get a job offer yet?"

"The table fell out laughing," per Cooper. "Bayh shifted his eyes with mock stealth and discomfort. 'Shhhh,' he said, walking his eyebrows in Obama's direction."

The questions didn't end there.

"He your vice president?" a lady clad in a pink shirt shouted at Obama.

After chuckling, Obama replied, "I haven't made a decision about my vice president yet."

Romney Swings Through D.C.

Mitt Romney was spotted by ABC News on Wednesday walking on DeSales Street close to the network's bureau in downtown Washington, D.C.

Asked by ABC News' Matt Stuart what brought the McCain VP prospect to D.C., Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom explained that Romney was just catching Washington's direct flight to Beijing for the Olympics, adding that "whenever [Gov. Romney] is in DC he meets with his political associates."

TiVo Alert! Michelle Obama sat down with ABC News' Robin Roberts for an interview to air Thursday on Good Morning America and Nightline.

The kicker: "Discretion."

--Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty's (R) one word answer at the National Press Club on what are the most important qualities in a vice presidential candidate.

On the campaign front. . .


-- 11:30 am ET: Attends town hall meeting with voters, Lima, OH. (2004 Presidential Election results, Allen County: 66% Bush, 34% Kerry)


-- Starts day in Minneapolis, MN, then heads to Chicago, IL (no public events)

At the White House. . .


-- In Thailand.


ABC News' Teddy Davis: Nader: Obama Not Black Prez He Hoped For LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper: Obama: "Happy Days" Are Here Again LINK

ABC News' John Berman, Sunlen Miller, and Andy Fies: Obama and Bayh, Sitting in a Tree ... Sort Of LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper: A Coif You Can Believe In LINK

ABC News' Imtiyaz Delawala: Pawlenty Continues Tire Gauge Critique of Obama LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper: Obama: "In the Coming Days It's Going to Be Interesting Watching this Debate Between John McCain and John McCain" LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper: Money Men LINK

ABC News' Jake Tapper: Politifact Finds Obama's Tire-Inflation Claim True LINK


Nuclear Power vs. the 'People Plan'
McCain touts nuke power, while Obama promotes the "people plan." LINK

Hey, Immigrants ... Deport Yourself!
Government program in San Diego asks immigrants to turn themselves in. LINK

Kimmel: McCain's 'Motor' Mouth
Jimmy comments on the senator's appearance at a motorcycle festival. LINK

GOP Veepstakes
Both Romney and Pawlentry top the lists. LINK

Cavuto's Common Sense
Fox's Neil Cavuto offers his take on the economy. LINK

Iraq Made 158 Billion in Oil Revenue
Report indicates that Baghdad has spent very little on infrastructure. LINK

Dow Surges 300 Points
The Dow has its biggest rally in three months, as gas prices plummet. LINK

Paris For President
Paris Hilton responds to John McCain's attack ad. LINK