This could be the week when we find out who Mitt Romney has picked as his No. 2. Then again, it may end up being another week of waiting.
When it comes to the veepstakes, the Romney campaign has masterfully used the elements of suspense and surprise to its advantage - dispatching potential running mates on the campaign trail as surrogates, offering them up as donor bait at fundraisers and creating a data collection scheme disguised as a mobile app promising supporters who provide their name and contact information the first look at "Mitt's V.P."
Whatever the timing, Romney seems to be facing a "road not taken" dilemma - one that pits several so-called safe candidates (think Ohio Sen. Rob Portman and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty) for the job against a couple of potentially riskier choices (Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan).
There are advocates on both sides, but lately momentum seems to have shifted toward the "go bold" camp.
"I think that by the day, the chances of big and bold are more plausible when you see Romney behind in virtually all the battleground states," ABC's Jonathan Karl noted yesterday on the "This Week" roundtable. "He's being urged by some very prominent voices within the Republican Party to go big and bold, and the message that has come back to particularly Marco Rubio supporters is, reassurance that the Romney campaign he's under serious consideration."
But, Karl cautioned, "if you talk to Republicans close to Romney, still the overwhelming expectation is that he goes to the one of the safe picks." http://abcn.ws/O02Les
The pressure Romney is getting is plain to see. In the latest edition of the conservative Weekly Standard, editors Stephen F. Hayes and William Kristol urge: "Go bold, Mitt! Pick Paul Ryan, the Republican party's intellectual leader, the man who's laid out the core of the post-Obama policy agenda and gotten his colleagues in Congress to sign on to it. Or pick Marco Rubio, the GOP's most gifted young politician, the man who embodies what is best about the Tea Party and a vision of a broad-based Republican governing majority of the future. Barack Obama was right about this (if only this): Modern democratic politics is about hope and change. Ryan and Rubio, more than anyone else, embody Republican hopes and conservative change." http://bit.ly/NrIFXn
Even one of the contenders said to be under consideration by the Romney campaign - Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal - has been pushing Ryan.
"I think picking somebody like a Paul Ryan would send a very powerful message that this administration was serious about Medicare reform, entitlement reform, shrinking the size of government, and doing so in a courageous way," Jindal said at the Red State Gathering in Jacksonville, Fla. over the weekend.
And as of this morning, it appears we can check a few long-shot names off the V.P. list. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, South Carolina Gov.. Nikki Haley, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee have all been given prime speaking slots at the Republican National Convention. http://nbcnews.to/OIepcM
These decisions don't get made in a vacuum and if the Romney campaign green-lighted their speaking roles in Tampa later this month it's less likely they are still under serious discussion. The again, anything can happen.
It's one more way Romney's team in Boston has proven adept at playing the waiting game.
ABC's AMY WALTER: Today's Republican National Convention speaking list takes some of the dark horse candidates like Condi Rice and Susanna Martinez off of the veepstakes list. And, with plenty of other speaking slots to be filled, look for more names to be taken out of the mix this week. My best guess for who gets announced this week for a speaking slot instead of a VP slot: Chris Christie.
ABC's RICK KLEIN: Wait - we're back on Mitt Romney's taxes? Just one little utterly unsubstantiated suggestion from the Senate majority leader, and Romney and his surrogates are again finding themselves saying publicly that yes, Mitt Romney paid at least some taxes every year for the last decade. Republicans are complaining about campaign tactics, and Democrats are barely even defending Harry Reid. But they don't have to, since they're talking about what they want to be talking about - Romney's taxes. This subject won't fully go away ever, at least if you believe Romney's assertion that no more tax returns will be forthcoming.
THIS WEEK REWIND:
-RNC CHAIR CALLS HARRY REID A 'DIRTY LIAR.' In an interview on ABC's "This Week" RNC Chairman Reince Priebus called Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid a "dirty liar" for accusing Mitt Romney of not paying any taxes for ten years. "As far as Harry Reid is concerned, listen, I know you might want to go down that road. I'm not going to respond to a dirty liar who hasn't filed a single page of tax returns himself. (He) complains about people with money but lives in the Ritz Carlton here down the street," Priebus told ABC's George Stephanopoulos. Reid, the Democratic Senate Majority Leader from Nevada, said in an interview with the Huffington Post last month that, according to a source that called his office, Mitt Romney did not pay taxes for ten years. The accusation was strongly denounced by Romney, who said it was false and that Reid needed to "put up or shut up." http://abcn.ws/PXbbkG
-DNC CHAIR SAYS ROMNEY COULD CLEAR THIS UP 'IN TEN SECONDS.' Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz told George she didn't know who Reid's source was, but that Romney could clear up the situation if he released the 23 years of tax returns he gave McCain back in 2008. "I do know that Mitt Romney could clear this up in 10 seconds by releasing the 23 years of tax returns that he gave to John McCain when he was being vetted for vice president. Or even 12 years of tax returns that his own father said were what was appropriate. Because one year of tax returns, like he's released, could just be for show" Wasserman-Schultz said. http://abcn.ws/O02Les
with Elizabeth Hartfield ( @LizHartfield)
VIDEO OF THE DAY: FROM WOODY ALLEN TO WILL FARRELL, THE BEST POLITICAL MOVIES. In the latest episode of ABC/Yahoo!'s power player series "Political Punch" ABC's Jake Tapper made a top 10 list- the best political movies of all time. Movies that made the cut? "In the Loop," "Wag the Dog," and "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb" are a few- for the full list, check out the episode. http://yhoo.it/Ne0zzk
POLITICAL INSIGHTS: ROMNEY LOOKS FOR AUGUST RESEST. ABC's Rick Klein notes: The nation has met Barack Obama's Mitt Romney. If it's going to meet Romney's version of himself, it will happen this month, or not at all. It was supposed to start last month, with picked-up ad spending and a foreign trip built around a choreographed Olympic moment. But the foreign trip fell flat amid distractions at every stop, and Democrats continued to break through with their assault on Romney's transparency and business record. http://abcn.ws/MHPJRf
ROMNEY SAYS OBAMA LAWSUIT BLOCKS OHIO MILITARY VOTERS. ABC's Matt Larotonda reports, a new flap in the ongoing-battle on voting equality began this week when Mitt Romney accused President Obama's re-election committee of suing to restrict military voting rights in Ohio. And while Romney did not address the issue campaigning in Indiana, he called the lawsuit "an outrage" in a written statement. Republicans say a lawsuit brought by Obama for America in July seeks to eliminate additional time for in-person early voting allotted to service members in the battleground state. Democrats, on the other hand, contend the presumptive GOP nominee is deliberately trying to distort the facts. http://abcn.ws/NZe7PU
FIRM WITH TIES TO IRAN PAID OBAMA ADVISER. The Washington Post's Tom Hamburger and Peter Wallsten report: "David Plouffe, a senior White House adviser who was President Obama's 2008 campaign manager, accepted a $100,000 speaking fee in 2010 from an affiliate of a company doing business with Iran's government. A subsidiary of MTN Group, a South Africa-based telecommunications company, paid Plouffe for two speeches he made in Nigeria in December 2010, about a month before he joined the White House staff." http://wapo.st/Q0Nckk
NOTED: RNC spokesperson Kirsten Kukowski said in a statement: "Today's story raises serious questions about Barack Obama's senior adviser traveling to Nigeria weeks before he joined the West Wing to give a speech with a company actively engaged with and profiting from the oppressive policies of the Iranian regime. David Plouffe may be the biggest loophole in the international community's sanctions against Iran."
WHAT THE POST LEFT OUT, according to allies of Plouffe: "The biggest point that Post largely ignores is that there's nothing remarkable about this. For example, Colin Powell spoke to Credit Suisse before he was Secretary of State (one May 2000 speech to Credit Suisse Financial Services for $127,500, one September 2000 speech to Credit Suisse First Boston for $59,500). Credit Suisse was later cited for violations re: financing Iran - and at the time, it was known that that Credit Suisse had a long history of working with Iran/dealing with the Iranian regime. … At the same time that Plouffe was giving these speeches, Romney was on the board of Marriott, when the leading watchdog group asked it to cancel an Iranian investment conference at one of its German hotels. Instead of taking action, Marriott let the conference go forward and said it didn't take political positions."
ROMNEY PERSONA NON GRATA IN ITALY FOR BAIN'S DEAL SKIRTING TAXES. Bloomberg's Jesse Drucker, Elisa Martinuzzi and Lorenzo Totaro report: "Mitt Romney skipped Italy on his swing through Europe. That was probably prudent. That's because Bain Capital, under Romney as chief executive officer, made about $1 billion in a leveraged buyout 12 years ago that remains controversial in Italy to this day. Bain was part of a group that bought a telephone-directory company from the Italian government and then sold it about two years later, at the peak of the technology bubble, for about 25 times what it paid." http://bloom.bg/MewkdN
SANTORUM ORGANIZING CONVENTION EVENT FOR ROMNEY. The Hill's Niall Stanage reports: "Rick Santorum is organizing an event at this month's Republican National Convention to rally conservatives in support of presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney, a key Santorum aide has told The Hill. But Santorum has not yet received any promise from the Romney team, even in private, that he will be asked to deliver an address from the podium in Tampa. The former Pennsylvania senator's long-time senior strategist John Brabender warned that conservatives would be "quite disturbed" if they felt that Santorum was not accorded the prominence they believe he deserves at the quadrennial gathering." http://bit.ly/Q24sWs
POLITICAL POLLSTERS STRUGGLE TO GET THE RIGHT NUMBER. The New York Times' John Harwood reports: "As they gauge voter sentiment in this tight presidential race, pollsters face a big challenge: more and more voters hang up on them. So it sounds odd that some pollsters have decided to hang up on more voters. Yet that is one way survey researchers have adapted to the communications revolution that has upended old methods of measuring which political party is ahead. In the polarized battle between President Obama and Mitt Romney, arcane shifts in polling techniques can have important consequences for the results - and public perceptions of the contest. http://nyti.ms/NcUVNG
CONVENTIONS LOSE APPEAL FOR LOBBYISTS. Roll Call's Janie Lorber reports: "Washington, D.C., lobbyists are not exactly jazzed about heading south for the major party conventions. The sluggish economy, new restrictions on contributions and anti-corporate sentiment has zapped the fun out of the Republican and Democratic national conventions for political players… With fewer parties on the docket, fewer Members of Congress attending and fewer dollars to throw around, many lobbyists say the only thing they will get out of this year's events in Charlotte, N.C., and Tampa, Fla., is a sunburn. http://bit.ly/OTfTTF
IN THE NOTE'S INBOX:
-PROGRESSIVE GROUPS TARGET TAX CUTS. Americans United for Change and the labor union AFSCME have teamed up to run a $280,000 televisin ad campaign against four vulnerable members of Congress and Nevada Sen. Dean Heller for what the groups say is their "irresponsible votes to perpetuate the Bush tax cuts for the richest 2% at the expense of the middle-class." Tom McMahon, Executive Director, Americans United for Change said: "Republicans in Congress are willing to protect tax breaks for the richest 2% and big oil companies at any cost, even if means hiking taxes on 25 million middle-class families. If tax cuts for the rich were really the key to economic growth, how do these Republicans explain why President Bush's millionaire tax breaks resulted in the worst presidential jobs record in recorded history?" Here's the ad hitting Sen. Heller: http://bit.ly/QDU0ey
-COMING TO A BILLBOARD NEAR YOU: Public Notice's Bankrupting America initiative will be launching a billboard campaign with 48 billboards across 10 states highlighting what it says it "the harmful impact of America's skyrocketing national debt." The states include Ohio, Virginia, Florida, North Carolina, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Iowa, Texas and Oklahoma, and the billboards will be up from August 6 through September 30. http://bit.ly/RGPird
- BROWN CAMPAIGN MARKS OFFICIAL INTRODUCTION OF GAIL HUFF TO THE TRAIL. Scott Brown's campaign launches a new web ad this morning titled "Gail." The minute long ad marks the official introduction of Brown's wife Gail Huff to the campaign trail. Huff is taking a leave of absence from her job at WJLA in Washington, D.C., to campaign for her husband. The ad features video of that now famous pick-up truck that Brown drove during the special election in 2010- at the end of the video the couple drives away in said automobile. WATCH: http://bit.ly/O0zxMz
with ABC's Arlette Saenz ( @ArletteSaenz)
- ROMNEY PUTS POSSIBLE VP PICKS TO WORK. The Wall Street Journal's Sara Murray reports: "Mitt Romney is using speculation about his vice-presidential pick to build a fundraising advantage - which in turn is whipping up the guessing game. The campaign has dispatched several possible short-listers to events around the country that are designed to raise money and perhaps serve as a final audition for potential partners on the ticket. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will round out the summer headlining a dozen fundraisers for Mr. Romney, while former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty will host seven this month. Ohio Sen. Rob Portman is squeezing in three in August, according to campaign schedules. One addition to the fundraising circuit who is sure to draw attention is former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a favorite among some donors." http://on.wsj.com/OTVEFn
-WHY THE TIMING MATTERS: Just as important as who Romney will pick to join him on the GOP ticket is when he'll make that decision, and the New York Times' Michael Shear runs down the pluses and minuses of each announcement timeframe here. http://nyti.ms/R8xfN4
-PAWLENTY'S TAX INCREASE CONUNDRUM: As governor of Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty supported a cigarette tax he labeled a "health impact fee," that some say shows evidence broke his pledge to not increase taxes, Politico's Juana Summers reported. "If Tim Pawlenty joins Mitt Romney on the GOP ticket he'll bring one big piece of baggage that gives conservatives heartburn. When he was governor of Minnesota, Pawlenty backed a 'health impact fee' - 75 cents per pack on cigarettes. It caused the biggest clash of his governorship, shutting down the state government. Pawlenty never called it a tax increase, but his critics certainly did," Summers wrote. "Fiscal conservatives are still uncomfortable with Pawlenty's break with conservative orthodoxy on this issue, even though it seems unlikely to cost him much political capital in the veepstakes." http://politi.co/O11Ie9
@David_Gergen : As we decry religious intolerance after Sikh shooting, hope we don't forget other question: why do so many madmen have so many guns?
@BuzzFeedBen : Supporters Adopt Mormon Slogan To Campaign For Romney http://www.buzzfeed.com/mckaycoppins/supporters-adopt-mormon-slogan-to-campaign-for-rom via @buzzfeed
@SalenaZitoTrib : oh for goodness sakes Condi is out, she was never in.
-President Obama signs the Honoring America's Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act. Later, the president travels to Stamford, Conn., for a campaign event and a fundraiser.
-Mitt Romney is off the campaign trail in Wolfeboro, N.H.
Check out The Note's Futures Calendar : http://abcn.ws/ZI9gV