Veep Beat: VP Clock Ticks Before Romney's International Trip

Evan Vucci /AP Photo

VEEPWATCH: The timetable for Mitt Romney to announce his running mate decision before his international trip is narrowing with the presumptive GOP nominee set to leave the country mid next week. Romney is slated to hold an event at Coastal Forest Products in Bow, N.H., where a home state senator and VP potential - Kelly Ayotte - is expected to appear. Most of the VP contenders have returned to their home states with Rob Portman scheduled to appear at Dannon Yogurt headquarters in Ohio today along with hosting a fundraiser for Romney in Lima, Ohio. Tim Pawlenty is still expected to be at his home in Eagan where he's been all week.

EYES ON THE VEEPS: ABC News reporters have kept tabs on the vice presidential contenders in recent days, and ABC News' Matt Negrin wraps up the best of these potential candidates movements, from Pawlenty's perfectly manicured lawn to Ryan walking through a Capitol Hill building with a pillow in one hand in his son's hand in the other. "It's been reported that Mitt Romney's campaign has asked potential running mates if they've been faithful. ABC News can attest that in recent days, none of them have been unfaithful. The short list has been subjected to a near round-the-clock scrutiny by the media," Negrin wrote. "Here's what we've learned: Paul Ryan entered his Capitol Hill office this morning carrying a pillow and holding his son's hand. Ryan, a budget chief in the making from Wisconsin, sleeps on a cot in his office, where he dreams of deficits jumping over a cliff … Tim Pawlenty is … somewhere. Shushannah Walshe reports from Pawlenty's home in Eagan, Minn.: 'It's on a pretty, manicured street. Everyone seems to have a dog, bike and running habit. His house is a modest gray clapboard home. The lawn is perfectly manicured with flower boxes on the windows. A white wicker chair is by the front door.'"

SPOTTING PORTMAN: ABC News' Russell Goldman caught up with Portman at the Cincinnati airport close to 1 a.m. Friday, and the Ohio senator told him he had a chatty seatmate on his flight to Ohio because he's "much more recognizable these days." A May Quinnipiac poll showed 59 percent of Ohio voters didn't know enough about Portman to have an opinion of him, but with his name in the news as a potential VP pick, this unfamiliarity with the Ohio senator could be changing.

Get more pure politics at ABC and a lighter take on the news at

THE CONTENDERS' DAIRY STOPS: ABC News' Shushannah Walshe picks up on a common theme between two of the vice presidential possibilities as they wait to hear Romney's verdict on his running mate. "We don't know who will be Mitt Romney's running mate, but both contenders reported to be on the short list are cornering the dairy market. [Friday] Ohio Sen. Rob Portman is meeting employees at the Dannon Yogurt and Crown Equipment in New Bremen, Ohio," Walshe wrote. "On a call Thursday with reporters, Portman was asked if he would be confirming his VP candidacy at a press conference following the tour. 'The only thing I can confirm is that I will be eating yogurt,' Portman said. And the New Hampshire Republican Party - perhaps thinking more longterm, if less about calories - sent out this tweet Thursday afternoon that former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty will be at an ice cream social event in Manchester on Aug. 11. @NHGOP Aug 11 ice cream social w/ Tim Pawlenty at 1800 Elm St Manch from 1 - 3. $20 per ticket, RSVP online here A New Hampshire Republican confirmed the event and tells ABC News the ice cream social is a 'state party event,' but they 'work closely with the Romney campaign' and they are 'aware of the event.'"

MESSAGE TROUBLE FOR PAWLENTY? As the Romney campaign tries to turn Obama's "You didn't build that" comment into an attack on business, Pawlenty's previous praise of the good work government can do may produce a muddled message if he's picked as VP, the Washington Post's Aaron Blake reported. "Mitt Romney's campaign looks like it intends to make a major issue out of President Obama's 'You didn't build that' comment. And that may not bode well for Tim Pawlenty's chances of being Romney's vice president," Blake wrote. "Romney's campaign has gone whole-hog after Obama's remark to business owners, and Republicans believe the attack is working in spades. But if that's the message, then Pawlenty may not be an ideal messenger as Romney's No. 2. At given points in his political career, Pawlenty has emphasized the good work that government can do, and at one point, in 2006, he was quoted as saying the 'era of small government is over.' 'I'm a market person, but there are certain circumstances where you've got to have government put up the guardrails or bust up entrenched interested before they become too powerful,' he told the Minneapolis Star Tribune during his reelection campaign. 'Government has to be more proactive, more aggressive.' Pawlenty's press office was quick to separate him from the money quote - 'the era of small government is over' - and prevailed on the newspaper to run a clarification stating that Pawlenty was referencing a David Brooks column that used that phrase. But the damage was done."

PAWLENTY'S WEBSITE FACELIFT? Tim Pawlenty's website appears to be getting a curiously timed facelift, causing some bloggers to raise questions about whether or not he's preparing to receive the vice presidential nod, ABC News' Arlette Saenz and Shushannah Walshe reported. "When users head to, which Pawlenty has used since 2009, according to this Facebook post, any semblance of a homepage is gone and instead is replaced with the words, 'Please come back later.' The tab on the browser reads, 'Coming Soon page.' Pawlenty lists this website on both his Twitter and Facebook profiles," Saenz and Walshe wrote. But while some bloggers are floating the idea that Pawlenty removed the site to prep for the vice presidential announcement, "Pawlenty told ABC News the site was taken down because there is no longer a campaign or a PAC, but he said he 'doesn't know who wrote' 'coming soon' up there."

AWKWARD: RUBIO QUESTIONS NPR FUNDING…WHILE ON NPR: When it comes to funding for NPR, Sen. Marco Rubio questions whether taxpayer funds should be used to pay for public broadcasting, and he voiced this concern while appearing on an NPR show yesterday, ABC News' Matt Negrin reported. "Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., expressed worry this morning about broadcasting outlets that use taxpayer money to stay on the air. Rubio made his comments on a broadcasting outlet that uses taxpayer money to stay on the air," Negrin wrote. "'I do have concerns about spending money on public broadcasting,' Rubio told Diane Rehm during an hourlong Q&A on NPR. NPR has been a source of criticism from congressional Republicans who view it as a liberal refuge that espouses its views courtesy of public funding. Although only 2 percent of NPR's funding comes from government grants, the station says that the loss of federal funding would undermine NPR stations' ability to pay for programming."

RUBIO NUGGETS: Elizabeth Hartfield lists nine nuggets voters might not know about Sen. Marco Rubio, from his hate of the BeeGees and disco to how he's one of the least wealthy members of the senate.


@govchristie: Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families.

@robportman: votes in Sen today, trying to get home to OH and Jane for our anniversary, 2 flights cancelled bc of storms, now on 3rd.

@marcorubio: Listening to @barackobama wage #classwarfare in #Jacksonville #Florida.Parts of it sound like speech by left-wing 3rd world leader. #sayfie

@bobmcdonnell: Reducing tuition increases means greater access to a college education …

@kellyayotte: How about "outrageous" MT @ReutersUpdate: White House calls Russia & China veto of Syria resolution regrettable & highly unfortunate

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