Top Likely Republican Running Mates

A few predictions of who could make it to the No. 2 GOP spot.

April 4, 2012 -- intro: Mitt Romney has the Republican nominaton all but sewn up, which makes it time for one of Washington's favorite parlor games: veepstakes.

There are a slew of running-mate possibilities for Romney to consider, although most of them are publicly professing disinterest right now. It's an important decision that can help round out a ticket or be looked back on as a monumental disaster.

Here are some candidates from, in our opinion, most to least likely.

quicklist: 1 title: U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. category: The Triple Threat -- Latino Roots, Florida Residence, Tea Party Bona Fide url: 16070382 text: Vital Stats

Age: 40

Birthplace: Miami

Family: Jeanette Dousdebes (wife); Children: Amanda, Daniella, Anthony and Dominic

Religion: Catholic

Current job: U.S. senator for Florida

Previous experience: speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, member of the Florida House of Representatives

What They've Said: "I'm not going to be the vice president."

What's not to love about Rubio. He's young. He's smart. He's adored by the Tea Party but also has cross-over appeal to Latinos. Oh, and he also represents a swing state with 29 electoral votes. The downside: He's young and untested. media: 16071734

quicklist: 2 title: U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D. category: Plain from the Plains url: 16070382 text: Vital Stats

Age: 51

Birthplace: Murdo, S.D.

Family: Kimberly Weems (wife); Children: Brittany and Larissa

Religion: Evangelical Christian

Current job: U.S. senator for South Dakota

Previous experience: chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, member of the U.S. House of Representatives for South Dakota's at-large district

What They've Said: He's not interested.

The safe pick. He's a Midwesterner. He's young(ish). He's attractive. He doesn't really alienate anyone, but can he motivate anyone? media: 15811954

quicklist: 3 title: U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio category: The Inside Man url: 16070382 text: Vital Stats

Age: 56

Birthplace: Cincinnati

Family: Jane Portman (wife); Children: Jed, Will and Sally

Religion: Methodist

Current job: U.S. senator from Ohio

Previous experience: director of the Office of Management and Budget, U.S. trade representative, member of the U.S. House of Representatives

What They've Said: "No, not for me."

Like Thune, Portman is something of a "safe" pick. He is smart and well-respected. But for a campaign trying to act more, ahem, "unzipped," Portman is about as buttoned-up as they come.

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quicklist: 4 title: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie category: The Firebrand url: 16070382 text: Vital Stats

Age: 49

Birthplace: Newark, N.J.

Family: Mary Pat Foster (wife); Children: Andrew, Sarah, Patrick and Bridget

Religion: Roman Catholic

Current job: governor of New Jersey

Previous experience: U.S. attorney for the District of New Jersey, member of the Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders

What They've Said: "If Gov. [Mitt] Romney were to come and talk to me about it, I'd listen, because I love my party enough and I love my country enough to listen."

The colorful New Jersey governor would inject some energy into a campaign in need of a pick-me-up. His straight-talk, no-holds-barred style plays well to an electorate that has grown weary of pandering pols. The risk, of course, is that he becomes a little "too colorful" and distracts attention from Romney's message.

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quicklist: 5 title: Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. category: GOP's Budget Wunderkind url: 16070382 text: Vital Stats

Age: 42

Birthplace: Janesville, Wis.

Family: Janna Ryan (wife); Children: Elizabeth, Charles and Samuel

Religion: Roman Catholic

Current job: chairman of the House Committee on the Budget

Previous experience: political speechwriter for 1996 vice presidential candidate Jack Kemp, legislative director for then-Sen. Sam Brownback

What They've Said: "I would have to consider it, but it's not something I am even thinking about right now because I think our job in Congress is pretty important."

The GOP base LOVES him, as does Team Obama -- for different reasons, of course. GOPers see Ryan as a straight-talking deficit buster, while Democrats like President Obama compare his budget plan to "social Darwinism."

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quicklist: 6 title: Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell category: Swing State Polish url: 16070382 text: Vital Stats

Age: 57

Birthplace: Philadelphia, but moved to Fairfax County, Va., at 1 year old

Family: Maureen Gardner of McLean, Va. (wife) ; Children: Jeanine, Cailin, Rachel and twins, Bobby and Sean

Religion: Roman Catholic

Current job: governor of Virginia

Previous experience: 21 years in U.S. Army, including time on reserve, seven terms in the Virginia House of Delegates, three years as State Attorney General, two years as governor

What They've Said: "I'd be very interested. It is a swing state. I'm not asking for the call. I'm not looking for the call."

A popular swing state governor should be high on the list. But, his fumbling of the "ultrasound" issue earlier this spring is a big liability, especially as Romney tries to shrink the gender gap and broaden his appeal to suburban independents. media: 16071912

quicklist: 7 title: Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels category: The Reluctant Politician url: 16070382 text: Vital Stats

Age: 62 (63 as of April 7)

Birthplace: Monongahela, Pa.

Family: Cheri (wife); Children: Meagan, Melissa, Meredith and Maggie

Religion: Presbyterian

Current job: governor of Indiana

Previous experience: chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (1983-84), chief political advisor and liaison to President Ronald Reagan (1985-87), president and CEO of conservative think tank the Hudson Institute (1987-90), director of the Office of Management and Budget (2001-03), governor (2004-present)

What They've Said: "I don't know, I've always felt that no citizen should say in advance, 'If asked to serve, I won't.'"

He chose family over a run for president, but will those same family ties keep him from accepting the veep slot? In an election about the economy and jobs, Daniels has a good story to tell about his tenure in Indiana. But, if Romney is still looking for someone to appeal to those very conservative Republicans who've yet to warm to him Daniels isn't that guy.

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quicklist: 8 title: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal category: Once Favored url: 16070382 text: Vital Stats

Age: 50

Birthplace: Baton Rouge, La.

Family: Supriya (wife); Children: Selia Elizabeth, Shaan Robert and Slade Ryan

Religion: Roman Catholic

Current job: governor of Louisiana

Previous experience: director of Louisiana Health and Hospitals Department (1996-98), executive director of the National Bipartisan Commission on the Future of Medicare (1998-99), president of the University of Louisiana system (1999-2001), principal policy advisor to the secretary of Health and Human Services (2001-03), U.S. congressman (2004-2006), governor (2008-present)

What They've Said: "No, I will not be V.P."

Since winning his first term as governor in 2007, Jindal has been pegged as a potential presidential/v.p. candidate. Even so, he's getting much less play this year. Perhaps it's because he chose to back fellow southern Gov. Rick Perry of Texas in the primary.

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quicklist: 9 title: South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley category: Gender Gap Buster url: 16070382 text: Vital Stats

Age: 40

Birthplace: Bamberg, S.C.

Family: Michael (husband); Children: Rena and Nalin

Religion: Raised Sikh, attends both Sikh and Methodist services

Current job: governor of South Carolina

Previous experience: state representative (2004-10), governor (2010-present)

What They've Said: "I'd say, 'Thank you, but no.' I made a promise to the people of this state. And I think that promise matters. And I intend to keep it."

Haley was one southern governor who did back Romney. Unfortunately, her endorsement wasn't enough to help Romney win over South Carolina voters. Haley has Tea Party appeal but her low approval ratings in the state suggest she'd be a polarizing figure on a national ticket.

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quicklist: 10 title: Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty category: Minnesota Nice Guy url: 16070382 text: Vital Stats

Age: 51 - Born Nov. 27, 1960

Birthplace: St. Paul, Minnesota

Family: Mary Anderson (wife); Children: Anna, Mara

Religion: Baptist

Current job: Lawyer

Previous experience: Governor of Minnesota (2003 - 2011), Majority Leader of the Minnesota House of Representatives (1999 - 2003). What They've Said: "No, I've taken my name off that list."

The former Minnesota Gov. has a regular-Joe profile that Romney desperately needs (Pawlenty famously encouraged his party to reach out to "Sam's Club Republicans"). Plus, he's been a tireless surrogate on the campaign trail for his former rival. Even so, with weak approval ratings in his home state, Pawlenty isn't much of a geographical asset. His low-key style means he won't add much of a spark to the ticket either. media: 14740130 related: 14301520

quicklist: 11 title: Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval category: The Nevada Gamble url: 16070382 text: Vital Stats

Age: 48

Birthplace: Redding, Calif.

Family: Kathleen (wife); Children: James, Madeline, Marisa

Religion: Roman Catholic

Current job: governor of Nevada

Previous experience: state representative (1994-98), member of Nevada Gaming Commission (1998-2001), chairman of Gaming Commission (1999-2011), attorney general (2003-05), district court judge (2005-09), governor (2011-present)

What They've Said: "I am extremely honored that my name has come up but I love the job I have and I intend to keep it."

Romney's not known to be a big risk taker, and choosing a first term governor would be a risk. Even so, Sandoval brings with him a lot of positives: He's a popular Hispanic governor in a key swing state. And, unlike Rubio, Sandoval doesn't bring the baggage of a Washington, D.C., address.

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quicklist: 12 title: New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez category: Wildcard Triple Threat url: 16070382 text: Vital Stats

Age: 52

Birthplace: El Paso, Texas

Family: Chuck Franco (husband); Children: Carlo (stepson)

Religion: Roman Catholic

Current job: governor of New Mexico

Previous experience: district attorney for 3rd Judicial District in New Mexico (1996-2010), governor (2011-present)

What They've Said: "I'm totally, completely focused on being governor and fulfilling my promises. It's humbling, but I'm not interested."

A Hispanic woman from a key swing state, Martinez checks a lot of boxes. Even so, there's little doubt that the media would be compelled to compare her to another first-term governor from a small state who was picked as a Republican vice presidential nominee. media: 16071645

quicklist: 13 title: Senator Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H. category: Swing State Mom url: 16070382 text: Vital Stats

Age: 48

Birthplace: Nashua, N.H.

Family:Joe Ayotte (husband) ; Children: Katherine & Jacob

Religion: Roman Catholic

Current job: U.S. Senator for New Hampshire

Previous experience: N.H. state attorney general (2004-2009), U.S. senator (2010-present)

What They've Said: "I just got elected to the Senate by the good people of New Hampshire and that has been and will continue to be my only focus," Ayotte told the Nashua Telegraph.

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quicklist: 14 title: Jeb Bush category: Wildcard url: 16070382 text: Vital Stats

Age: 59

Birthplace: Midland, Texas

Family: Columba (wife); Children: George P., Noelle, John Ellis (Jeb, Jr.)

Religion: Roman Catholic (since 1995)

Current Job: co-chairman of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy

Previous experience: founded think-tank The Foundation for Florida's Future, governor of Florida (1999-2007)

What They've Said: "There is a strong field to pick from, but Marco Rubio, to me, would be the best choice."

The former governor of Florida would add some political and policy heft to the ticket, but there's little indication that Bush wants to be a second fiddle. And then, there's that last-name thing… media: 10566667

quicklist: 15 title: Primary Contenders? category: The Unlikeliest of VPs url: 16070382 text: What They've Said: Santorum: "I'll do whatever is necessary to help our country."

Gingrich: ""No, I wouldn't say no... I can't imagine him offering."

Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are a couple of people from the heated Republican primary who do not seem to be considerations for VP. There's little love between Romney and the Santorum/Newt Gingrich camps. Jon Huntsman has essentially abandoned the party. Herman Cain is too controversial. Rick Perry's debate performances alone likely disqualified him from the mix -- that and the fact that Romney trashed the Texas governor's position on immigration. The only former candidate that seems like a plausible fit is former Minnestoa Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who got out of the race early, endorsed Romney, and has worked for him on the campaign trail is the one exception.

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quicklist: 16 title: Mystery Candidate category: The Ideal Family url: 16070382 text: Vital Stats

Age: ?

Birthplace: Swing State

Family: Noncontroversial

Religion: ?

Current job: It's a question mark -- potentially outside of politics.

Previous experience: Someone who can provide a balance to Romney's attributes.

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