A SUITABLE PAWLENTY: Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty doesn't have the mega-superstar qualities of contenders like Sen. Marco Rubio or Gov. Chris Christie, but the former GOP candidate's "suitable" nature, along with his ease on the trail as a surrogate, could be what draws Mitt Romney's team to pick him for the number two spot, the AP's Brian Baskt reported. "As a presidential hopeful, Tim Pawlenty won respect among GOP insiders, social conservatives and the tea party movement. Far from the first love of any faction, he quickly washed out as a candidate. Almost a year after he abandoned his White House bid, Pawlenty's reputation as being suitable but not a standout is actually fueling the speculation that the former Minnesota governor is a serious contender in Republican Mitt Romney's search for a running mate," Baskt wrote. "To hear these insiders tell it, the earnest Pawlenty might end up satisfying many Republicans without risking the unwelcome distractions that could result from a running mate who is flashier than the nominee, who has close ties to an unpopular past administration or whose background has largely avoided scrutiny."
PAWLENTY'S HEALTH CARE ATTACKS: Buzzfeed's Andrew Kaczynski compiled some of Pawlenty's greatest health care hits on Romney dating back to 2009, attacks that Pawlenty no longer lobs toward Romney. "The former Minnesota governor's first attack on Romney came in the midst of the first push by Congress to pass the Affordable Care Act in July of 2009. Pawlenty dinged the former Massachusetts Governor in a Washington Post op-ed in early August. The op-ed was countering a now infamous op-ed by Romney which ran in USA Today in which he argued President Obama could copy his plan in Massachusetts. 'Massachusetts' experience should caution Congress against focusing primarily on access. While the Massachusetts plan has reduced the number of uninsured people, costs have been dramatically higher than expected,' Pawlenty wrote. The result? Increased taxes and fees. The Boston Globe has reported on a current short-term funding gap and the need to obtain a new federal bailout," Kaczynski wrote. "Later that September, during an appearance on ABC's This Week, Pawlenty doubled down on his criticism of Massachusetts, calling it the state has 'the most expensive health care in the country. They have increasing waiting lines, and it's not working.'"
McDONNELL'S ROCKY 2012: Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell's political stock has taken a hit in the past six months on the controversy surrounding ultrasound legislation in his state, Politico's Alexander Burns reported. "Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has a record many Republican governors - and most vice presidential candidates - would kill for. Unemployment has dropped nearly 2 percentage points since the Republican was sworn in, to 5.6 percent. He has repeatedly balanced Virginia's budget without raising taxes while recently putting new funds into higher education and transportation. As chairman of the Republican Governors Association, McDonnell has built a powerful list of fundraising contacts and played an important role in the GOP's Wisconsin recall victory. In a punishing political environment, his approval rating remains over 50 percent. In 2012, all of that could get buried under a single word: ultrasound. A year ago, it looked like McDonnell might spend this year on a glide path to the No. 2 slot on Mitt Romney's ticket. That was before he spent the past few months grappling with a series of state-level crises: a leadership battle at the University of Virginia, a destructive storm that knocked out power for millions in the Washington area and - most significantly - an attempt by conservative legislators to mandate an invasive ultrasound procedure for women seeking abortions," Burns wrote. "That solitary piece of legislation has, more than anything else, turned McDonnell's national political fortunes upside down. Democrats used the proposal to bludgeon the rising GOP leader as anti-women in a campaign that McDonnell admits caught him off guard."
RYAN: SUPREME COURT 'NOT THE FINAL ARBITER' ON HEALTH CARE: Rep. Paul Ryan, who voted for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act Wednesday, said in a radio interview that the Supreme Court is not the final authority on the future of health care. "The point was to reassure the fact that the Supreme Court is not the final arbiter of this," Ryan said on the "Mark Belling Show" Wednesday. "We had two chances as of a few weeks ago to get rid of this law; we lost one, the Supreme Court. And to reassure the fact that this is in the hands of the people of this country through their elected representatives, they can repeal this law."
JINDAL'S HIRING FREEZE IN LOUISIANA: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal implemented a year-long hiring freeze on state workers, the Times-Picayune's Jeff Adelson reported. "Gov. Bobby Jindal has once again implemented a year-long state hiring freeze, continuing what has become a yearly tradition for his administration. Officials hope the hiring freeze will save at least $13 million over the next 12 months, according to Jindal's executive order," Adelson wrote. "Since Jindal took office, state government has eliminated about 16,000 positions including about 6,200 that were eliminated in this year's budget, according to the Division of Administration. The elimination of those positions has reduced the cost of state government by about $1 billion, according to the division."
@robportman: Glad to see the House take the first step fwd with today's bipartisan vote to repeal & replace POTUS health care law
@briansandoval: Improving education is critical. I'm looking forward to working with education leaders across the nation
@nikkihaley: Veto Fact: This year's budget Increases funds for Rape Crisis Centers by 6.4% AND Includes $1.6 mill to prosecute…