HOW PAWLENTY’S LACK OF PIZZAZZ HELPS: In 2008, John McCain opted to go with Sarah Palin, a wild-card selection, over a safe and dull candidate, Tim Pawlenty. But while McCain took a chance on a potentially game-changing pick, Mitt Romney’s desire for a harmless and grounded running mate boosts Pawlenty’s veepstakes chances, The StarTribune’s Rachel Stassen-Berger and Kevin Diaz reported. “In 2008, then-Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty was the odd man out in a Republican presidential campaign that needed to gamble on its vice presidential pick. But the 2012 campaign is being led by Mitt Romney, a man not given to rolling the dice, and that has vastly improved Pawlenty’s prospects for being on the national ticket. ‘The [John] McCain campaign felt like they needed a Hail Mary move to put the campaign in play,’ said Brian McClung, a close Pawlenty confidant who was at his side during the key moments of the 2008 vice presidential drama,” Stassen-Berger and Diaz wrote. “By contrast, Romney’s detailed, methodical style has campaign advisers betting on a safe vice presidential pick – some even use the word bland – who won’t distract from Romney’s desired focus on President Obama and his stewardship of a shaky national economy. With Obama and Romney running neck-and-neck in major polls, Republicans are looking less at game-changers like Sarah Palin and more at vetted, known quantities. The Romney campaign, McClung said, has a reputation for thoroughness. ‘They’re careful and methodical. The presidential contest is close nationally and in key battleground states. The setting this year is very different than in 2008.’ That calculation is fast making Pawlenty a consensus favorite in a vice presidential selection process that remains a closely guarded secret, one reportedly shared only by Romney and a few top aides. ‘Nobody knows,’ said Romney adviser Vin Weber, a former Minnesota congressman who is close to Pawlenty. ‘But from everything I hear, I think [Pawlenty] is in good shape.’”
RUBIO’S ‘MARKETPLACE’ IDEA MIRRORS OBAMA’S HEALTH EXCHANGES: As speaker of the House in Florida, Sen. Marco Rubio promoted a “marketplace” for health care called “Florida Health Choices,” which is about to be implemented in the Sunshine state, and potentially mirrors President Obama’s plan for “health exchanges,” The Miami Herald’s Tia Mitchell reported. “In the months before he became Florida House speaker, Marco Rubio crisscrossed the state searching for ways to make Florida better. The best proposals, dealing with topics ranging from property taxes to education, became a book: 100 Innovative Ideas for Florida’s Future. Chapter 8 is titled ‘Quality Healthcare at an Affordable Price,’ and it includes Idea No. 87: ‘Florida should launch a marketplace of affordable health insurance.’ Why is any of this important now, more than five years later?” Mitchell wrote. “While Gov. Rick Scott has said Florida will refuse to participate in optional provisions of the federal health care law, including the creation of a state health insurance exchange, Rubio’s vision for an insurance marketplace is about to come to fruition. It’s called Florida Health Choices. And though Republicans such as Rubio and Scott won’t admit it, Florida’s marketplace is a lot like President Barack Obama’s exchange. ‘It’s about competition, it’s about choice, and it’s about the marketplace,’ Rubio told the Palm Beach Post in 2008. (Rubio didn’t respond to questions for this story.) ‘It’s a priority of the House, and it needs to be respected and considered.’ Florida Health Choices is scheduled to launch later this year and is currently in the process of signing insurance companies and agents up for the program. Small businesses with four to 50 employees will be able to participate and coverage will begin in 2013. Although Republican lawmakers like to play up the ‘marketplace’ description of Florida Health Choices, it is set up like a health exchange. Like an exchange, it is a Web-based portal where people can shop for health insurance. And like an exchange, it is intended to create more options in hopes that more people will purchase coverage.”
PORTMAN KAYAKS: Sen. Rob Portman tweeted that he spent Sunday kayaking with wounded warriors on the Potomac River in Maryland as part of Team River Runner.
JINDAL FACTS: ABC News’ Elizabeth Hartfield runs down a list of nine nuggets voters might not know about Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, from switching his name from Piyush to Bobby and to his being named one of the top 20 American seniors by USA Today when he graduated from Brown University.
POSSIBLE VEEPS REACT TO AURORA TRAGEDY:
@marcorbuio: What terrible news from #Colorado this morning. Praying that God provides comfort to the victims & families and healing to the survivors.
@robportman: The families & friends of those whose lives were cut short in CO are in our prayers this morn, as are those injured & a community grieving
@gov christie: Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families.
@govva: Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by the tragic and senseless shooting in Colorado
@kellyayotte: A senseless and terrible tragedy. Thoughts & prayers are with everyone in Aurora.
@condoleezzarice: Having lived in Denver, my thoughts and prayers are with the people of Aurora today. May God continue to bring you comfort.#theatershooting
@govmikehuckabee: Heartfelt prayers for the victims in Aurora, Colorado and all those impacted by this terrible tragedy.