Democrats Launch Pre-Emptive Strike On Potential Veeps (The Note)

Drudge Report learns George W. Bushs secretary of state may be top choice.

Seth Wenig/AP Photo

By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone ) and AMY WALTER ( @amyewalter )


  • COULD IT BE CONDI? It seems unlikely, but the speculation about long-shot vice presidential contender and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reached a fever-pitch last night after the Drudge Report hinted that the Romney campaign had moved her up on the list of potential running mates. But her "mildly pro-choice" views would seem to disqualify her from contention, especially after presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney emphasized that he would pick a pro-life running mate. As ABC News' Jonathan Karl notes: "There is a better chance Rice becomes NFL Commissioner - a job she actually wants - than VP." See Karl's analysis on "Good Morning America" here:
  • EXCLUSIVE: SUPER PAC DUMPS 1,300 PAGES OF OPPO ON POTENTIAL VEEPS: Political prognosticators can only speculate who is on Romney's short-list, but now we know who the Democrats are preparing to target. The super PAC, American Bridge 21st Century, is shining their spotlight on three of the mostly likely contenders: former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. The group is making their research files on the three public for the first time on their newly-unveiled website:
  • THIS WEEK ON "THIS WEEK": RAHM EMANUEL AND KELLY AYOTTE. Chicago mayor and former Obama White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, as well as Romney supporter and potential vice presidential nominee Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., speak exclusively to George Stephanopoulos, Sunday on "This Week." Plus, the powerhouse roundtable debates all the week's politics, with ABC News' George Will; Democratic strategist James Carville, co-author of the new book "It's the Middle Class, Stupid!"; Republican strategist Mary Matalin; Democratic strategist and ABC News contributor Donna Brazile; and political strategist and ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd.


Mitt Romney and his team in Boston aren't the only ones feverishly vetting potential running mates.

In a non-descript Washington, DC office building within sight of the United States Capitol, a team of more than a dozen Democratic researchers have spent the last few months examining every nook and cranny of the records of several GOP vice presidential contenders.

The researchers work for the super PAC, American Bridge 21st Century, which is unveiling a new website on Friday called

The site features more than 1,300 pages of opposition research and scores of video clips on three likely running mates: Rob Portman, Marco Rubio and Tim Pawlenty. American Bridge trackers, armed with video cameras and laptops, have been following Pawlenty since May 2011, Rubio since this February and Portman since May.

The American Bridge file on Portman, who has been the subject of more speculation than just about anyone else, runs nearly 350 pages. It includes sections on the Ohio senator's legal career, his stints in prior presidential administrations and a rundown of his public statements on a raft of issues - from education to gun control to gay and lesbian rights. The image of Portman that emerges from the briefing book, which the super PAC, has posted online in full is of a Bush-loving, deficit-increasing, subsidy-hating lobbyist.

The Portman file, like the 492-page document for Pawlenty and the 555-page one for Rubio, includes an executive summary of "Top Hits" - the information that American Bridge considers most troublesome for each of the potential running mates.

When it comes to Rubio, who is favored by many conservatives to be Romney's running mate, American Bridge will attempt to characterize the Florida senator as a politician who not only uses his political office for personal gain, but also one who skirts the line of unethical practices.

The group decided to release the information before Romney picks his running mate in order to give fellow Democrats, as well as the press, a head-start on examining the major vulnerabilities of each of the contenders.

"In 2008 nobody was prepared for the disaster that was vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. And while even Mitt Romney couldn't top that pick, the front runners he's considering are all deeply flawed in their own right," said Rodell Mollineau, president of American Bridge. "This year we are going to make sure that the public has as much information as possible, as early as possible, on the extreme and out of touch positions of the candidates Mitt Romney would put a heartbeat away from the presidency."

ABC's Jonathan Karl, Gregory Simmons and Arlette Saenz contributed reporting.

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A WEEK MAKES: TAX RECORDS, BAIN, CLOUD ECONOMIC DEBATE. Last Friday, Mitt Romney's campaign was delivered a proverbial fruit basket: The monthly employment report from the government was pathetic, reports ABC's Matt Negrin. Just 80,000 jobs were added in June, the unemployment rate was still 8.2 percent, and the dodecahedron inside the political magic 8 ball started tipping away from President Obama. The political victory, however, was short-lived, if it was lived at all. Almost immediately, Obama's team began an offensive on Romney's background, totally unrelated to the jobs numbers or the economy, and the narrative stuck for the whole week, erasing the poor employment report from memory.

ROMNEY CAMP RELEASES NEW TV AD: 'WHAT HAPPENED?' A second ad in as many days from Team Romney, ABC's Emily Friedman reports. This one hinges on the article from Politico last summer that used unnamed Democratic sources to suggest President Obama's election strategy was simply to "destroy Romney." (Obama campaign strategist Daid Axelrod at the time called the report "garbage"). Here's how the Romney campaign is framing their new spot: "Four years ago, Candidate Obama spoke out against using 'stale tactics to scare voters.' Today, his plan to 'destroy Romney' includes dishonest attacks that he hopes will distract voters from his broken promises." WATCH:

VEEP SPECULATION SIREN: ALL EYES ON CONDI. ABC's Dana Hughes reports: The Romney campaign has not commented on the report that Condoleezza Rice has emerged as a "front-runner" for the vice presidential slot. Rice, who was Secretary of State under President George W. Bush and is now a professor at Stanford University, is on vacation this weekend, according to her spokesperson. But there has been more and more buzz about this on the blogosphere and at some news outlets. The Washington Post published an op-ed this weekend about how some conservatives view Rice favorably because she's the "anti-Palin" and then Bill Kristol predicted that she is a front-runner, because Ann Romney told CBS that they are considering a woman vice presidential candidate.

DENIALS: Rice has repeatedly, steadfastly maintained that she not only doesn't want to be VP, she doesn't want to run for any elected office. A sample of her denials came in an interview with CBS News on June 26. "There is no way I would do this," she said. She also noted, "I didn't run for student council president. I don't see myself in any way in elected office. I love policy. I'm not particularly fond of politics.

'MILDLY PRO-CHOICE': On abortion, she is well to the left of Romney, who in mid-life turned against abortion rights. In a 2008 interview with CBS News' 60 Minutes, Rice described herself as "mildly pro-choice." "I myself am someone who believes strongly in parental notification. … I'm against late-term abortion, which is, I think, really very cruel." But she said she's not for overturning Roe V. Wade. "I have not wanted to see the law changed because it's an area that I worry about the government being involved in.

RAISING COIN ON RUMORS: The Romney campaign is hoping to raise a little cash on the veep search, ABC's Jonathan Karl notes. In a fundraising email (see below), campaign manager Matt Rhoades tells supporters, "Sometime between now and the Republican convention, Mitt will be announcing his choice for VP." Whoa! The email then adds: "Know what's even more exciting? Every week until the VP announcement is made, one lucky supporter will win the chance to meet Mitt and his choice for VP." Donate three bucks and you can get a chance to win … What does it all mean? Maybe not much, but the "every week" line would seem to suggest an announcement is weeks away.

VIDEO OF THE DAY: POLITICALLY FOUL - BIDEN'S AWKWARD JOKE OF THE WEEK. In the latest episode of ABC/Yahoo!'s Power Player series "Politically Foul," ABC's Amy Walter takes a look back at some of the more out of the bounds political highlights for the past week. The winner of course? Joe Biden. When Politically Foul MVP Joe Biden leans into the podium, you know things are about to get awkward. Never one to miss an opportunity for wisecracking, Mr. Vice President rolled the dice on a sex joke. The only catch….it was about his parents! "Having your grandpop living with you…having your great aunt and uncle…those walls were awful thin, I wonder how my parents did it," smirked Biden. With such a track record of awkward moments, we shouldn't even be surprised anymore. WATCH:


with Elizabeth Hartfield ( @LizHartfield)

DID MITT ROMNEY BREAK THE LAW? ABC's Shushannah Walshe reports: Questions about Mitt Romney's time at Bain Capital have suddenly spiraled into a bigger question that President Obama's campaign is stoking: Did the candidate commit a crime by making false statements on SEC forms? Asked whether the Obama campaign was accusing Romney of breaking the law, the campaign wouldn't say. But campaign lawyer Bob Bauer said in a statement: "Romney and Bain claim that he was not involved with Bain, but Bain and its portfolio companies in their required filings under the Securities Exchange Act continuously certified to the Securities and Exchange Commission say precisely the opposite-asserting without qualification that he was a controlling person, fully in charge of Bain, under the Federal securities law. Under normal circumstances, the question of the truth of this representation would result in an investigation by the SEC into possible criminal, as well as civil, violations of the law."

DICK CHENEY: ROMNEY BEST-SUITED TO HANDLE 9/11-LIKE ATTACK. Former Vice President Dick Cheney sought to bolster Mitt Romney's foreign policy credibility this evening during a high-dollar fundraiser at which he said the presumptive GOP nominee would be best suited to handle a terrorist attack as severe as 9/11, ABC's Emily Friedman notrs. "There is one other credential that I care a lot about, and I have learned over the years in all those administrations that there is always, sooner or later, a crisis that's totally unanticipated," said Cheney…Cheney said that when he thinks about the kind of leader he wants to handle "life-and-death" decisions in that sort of situation, he thinks of Mitt Romney.

NOTED: DEETS ON THE CHENEY-HOSTED FUNDRAISER. The main event was at the beautiful Teton Pines Country Club, with its sweeping views of the Teton Mountains. The minimum donation for the general reception was $2,500 per person. For those who donate $50,000 or $100,000 per couple, they not only got to have dinner with Cheney and Romney but were also invited to the host committee reception and will become a Founding Member of Romney Victory. For $5,000 each, an attendee was invited to a photo reception with the two. For those who'd wanted dinner, that ran you $30,000 apiece, $60,000 per couple.

COP INVESTIGATED FOR COMMENTS ABOUT MICHELLE OBAMA. ABC's Zach Wolf reports: Washington, D.C., police are investigating a D.C. Metro Police officer for making inappropriate comments about First Lady Michelle Obama. "We received an allegation that inappropriate comments were made. We are currently investigating the nature of those comments," according to a statement from the D.C. Metro Police department. The officer works as a motorcycle escort with the agency, but has since been moved to administrative duty, according to the Washington Post, which first reported the incident. P3zelk

TORCH 'EM: LAWMAKERS WANT 'MADE IN CHINA' U.S. OLYMPIC UNIFORMS DESTROYED. ABC's Sunlen Miller and John Parkinson report, lawmakers were outraged Thursday after an ABC World News report revealed that the U.S. Olympic team's opening ceremony outfits are made in China. Some suggested making a bonfire with the outfits, which include berets and blazers. "I think they should take all the uniforms, put them in a big pile and burn them and start all over again," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said when asked by ABC News today, "If they have to wear nothing but a singlet that says USA on it, painted by hand, that is what they should wear."


HEALTH LAW RULING REVEALS DEEP DIVIDE AMONG GOVS. USA Today's Richard Wolf reports: "A 50-state survey by USA TODAY shows only Republican governors are refusing to expand Medicaid and only Democrats are vowing to expand it following the court's ruling that states cannot be penalized for failing to enlarge the program. More than half the governors are undecided. The partisan gulf exposes problems for the law as it staggers from the 5-4 court decision, past GOP efforts to repeal it in Congress and toward a November election that could decide its fate. Without broad action by states, millions more Americans will remain uninsured, hospitals will face continuing demands for uncompensated care, and insurers may be forced to raise premiums." Og4wAU

EXPERTS SEE SIGNS OF ECONOMIC PICKUP. The New York Times' Annie Lowrey reports: "Despite the recent run of disappointing economic data, a broad range of experts and forecasters expect the economy to improve slightly in coming months, thanks to lower oil prices and new signs of life from sectors like automobiles and housing. Call it a firming up, if not quite a comeback. Economists at many of the most-watched forecasting organizations, both public and private, expect growth to pick up through the summer and into the fall, although only to a pace broadly considered sluggish, if not dismal."

REP. JESSE JACKSON'S POLITICAL FUTURE IN QUESTION. The Washington Post's Paul Kane reports: "Once regarded as a leading candidate to succeed Obama in the Senate and often mentioned as a possible future mayor of Chicago, Jackson has not been seen in public since June 8. The explanation for his absence has evolved over the past five weeks. At first, aides said Jackson was experiencing "exhaustion" that resulted in medical treatment. The most recent explanation is that he has a severe "mood disorder" that is likely to keep him away from Capitol Hill until at least September…But after a week in which Jackson's staff has been forced to try to dispel an array of rumors, including one that he is in an Arizona facility being treated for alcohol and drug problems, his friends in the Congressional Black Caucus are whispering that they expect him to resign."

ETHICS FIGHTS BECOME FACTOR IN FIGHT FOR CONTROL OF CONGRESS. From The Hill's Cameron Joseph: "Ethics probes have become a factor in the fight for control of Congress. Democrats are fighting to keep control of the Senate in a difficult cycle in which they are defending more seats than Republicans. So it was unwelcome news for the party this week when it was announced that Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.), a candidate for the Senate in a competitive race, is facing an investigation into whether she used her postion to benefit her husband's medical practice. Berkley represented one of the best chances for Democrats to take a seat from Republicans… A similar story is unfolding in the House, though the roles there are somewhat reversed. Ethics probes could play a role here too, as at least five congressmen - four of them Republicans - are facing scrutiny. While the chance of Republicans losing the House seems remote, the ethics issues are a problem and a worry."


- MOVEON TO SWARM ROMNEY CAMPAIGN OFFICES, DEMANDING RELEASE OF TAX RETURNS. The progressive advocacy group are taking to the streets of Boston, and a host of other cities to demand that Romney release more of his tax returns. Members of the group plan to deliver letters to over 100 Romney campaign offices. " members across the country will take people power directly to Romney at campaign offices across the country tomorrow demanding he reveal the information in his hidden tax returns by releasing them" the press release reads. "With more than 100 actions across the country tomorrow, Political Action members will demonstrate and deliver "letters urging Romney to release his returns. … Kicking off at Romney Headquarters in Boston, MA, featuring an overhead 99airlines banner reading, "Only 1/12 the man his father was." NaHuR2

-ROMNEY'S VEEPSTAKES CONSIDERATIONS. GOP strategist Matt Mackowiak offers his veepstakes analysis in a Daily Caller Op-Ed: "When it comes to the vice presidential selection process, it's important to keep in mind the maxim: those who speak don't know and those who know don't speak. But that will not stop me from trying to predict who Mitt Romney will pick to be his running mate. There appear to be four serious finalists: Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), former Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN), Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). Ann Romney's recent admission that they were seriously considering choosing a female vice presidential candidate, most likely Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) or former Secretary of State Condi Rice, is probably a calculated head fake or wishful thinking. How to rate the four finalists? Consider five criteria, listed in order of presumed importance to Romney: Risk, Geography, Relationship, Governing, Narrative. As I said, pundits make predictions. I predict Romney chooses Portman and unveils the pick Monday morning in Cincinnati, Portman's hometown. But I'm not wagering money."


@jack_welch: I love Gov Sununu..on Hannity tonight wiping out Juan Williams after leaving Andrea Mitchell in dust earlier in week

@GeraldFSeib: Romney adviser Gillespie, in interview airing at 11 a.m. on, scoffs at Pelosi claim Romney wanted boos at NAACP.

@BuzzFeedBen: Here's the invite to Romney's Jerusalem fundraiser, a mere $50,000 a head

@AlexPappasDC: Am I the only one who has gotten the Romney fundraising email "Mitt's VP" from Matt Rhoades five times since yesterday?

@AlexanderTrow: How Rove & allies help court and "guide the mega-donors through the clubby and byzantine world of big-money politics."

@igorvolsky: Herman Cain: "we are leaning towards a racial presidential election." Re: Romney getting booed at NAACP. O is gonna make this "very racial"


-President Obama hits the trail in the battleground state of Virginia speaking at three events in Virginia Beach, Hampton, and Roanoke.

-Mitt Romney has no public events scheduled and travels to his home in New Hampshire for the weekend.

-On the Veepstakes front, Marco Rubio will headline a lunch fundraiser for Mitt Romney at the Boston Harbor Hotel.

-Also on the Veepstakes front, Bob McDonnell and Chris Christie will attend the NGA 2012 annual meeting at the Williamsburg Lodge and Conference Center in Virginia.

ABC's Josh Haskell ( @HaskellBuzz)

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