Veep Beat: Paul Ryan's Rising Momentum

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RYAN RISING: There has been a surge in mentions about Rep. Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney's potential running mate in recent days, and, as National Review Online's Robert Costa writes, the chatter about a Romney-Ryan ticket could just be true. "These days, you hear it everywhere - from Republican donors and veteran operatives, and at Capitol Hill watering holes. A few weeks ago, it was a wishful rumor floating in the Beltway ether. Now, sources close to the Romney campaign say it's for real, that the taciturn former Massachusetts governor is quietly warming to the idea. Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the budget king of the GOP, may be Mitt Romney's veep. 'Ryan is very highly respected not only by the candidate, but by Romney's policy shop,' says Tom Rath, a Romney adviser. 'Beyond the political relationship, he has a good personal relationship with Romney, and he has been a strong and reliable surrogate since the primary,'" Costa wrote. " For months, Ryan has been considered a dark horse for the number-two spot. At age 42, he has accomplished much, such as winning seven straight congressional races and authoring his party's blueprint for entitlement reform. But his lack of executive experience, and his criticism of the Bay State's health-care program, made his chances look relatively remote. Yet behind the scenes, Ryan's stock has been steadily rising. Romney, a former Bain Capital consultant who relishes data and metrics, has clicked with the youthful Badger State wonk. They have campaigned together and speak frequently on the phone, comparing notes on policy and strategy. And earlier this year, with Ryan's blessing, Romney hired three of Ryan's Budget Committee advisers to help him in Boston."

PARTY INSIDERS SPLIT ON RYAN: The prospect of Rep. Paul Ryan joining the GOP ticket excites one side of the Republican Party wishing Romney would be more forthcoming with the policy change he'd bring to Washington while at the same time, spurs hesitancy among others who are concerned Democrats would slash away at a Romney-Ryan ticket based on the Wisconsin representative's budget plan, Politico's Jonathan Martin, Jake Sherman and Maggie Haberman reprort. "As Mitt Romney's vice presidential selection nears and buzz about Rep. Paul Ryan's prospects builds, a split is emerging among Republicans about whether the choice of the House Budget chairman and architect of the party's controversial tax and spending plan would be a daring plus for the ticket or a miscalculation that would turn a close election into a referendum on Medicare," Martin, Sherman and Haberman wrote. "Ryan advocates, including some of his colleagues and high-profile conservative elites, believe Romney will lose if he doesn't make a more assertive case for his candidacy and that selecting the 42-year-old wonky golden boy would sound a clarion call to the electorate about the sort of reforms the presumptive GOP nominee wants to bring to Washington. Call them the 'go bold' crowd. Their opposites, pragmatic-minded Republican strategists and elected officials, believe that to select Ryan is to hand President Barack Obama's campaign a twin-edged blade, letting the incumbent slash Romney on the Wisconsin congressman's Medicare proposal and carve in the challenger a scarlet 'C' for the unpopular Congress. This is the cautious corner. Romney and his high command have kept a close hold on the vice presidential selection process, but sources familiar with the candidate's thinking say Ryan remains under consideration. The two men, both consumers of weighty tomes and papers, have bonded over policy and developed an easy professional rapport this year. Ryan told colleagues in Washington last week, before the House escaped for a month-long recess, that he hadn't spoken with top Romney aides in about a month though he had submitted paperwork for vice presidential vetting, according to a source close to the Budget chair."

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RYAN'S FAMILY VACATION: It is the heat of the veepstakes, but the timing also coincides with one of the busiest vacations months of the year as families decide to savor the final moments of summer before kids head back to school. And it looks like Paul Ryan and his family are planning on doing just that right as the Wisconsin representative's name is bandied about as one of the lead contenders for the number two spot. ABC News' John Parkinson confirmed Ryan is taking a week-long vacation with his family in Colorado, starting Saturday.

THE PAWLENTY, PORTMAN BLITZ: While he campaigns in Iowa today, Mitt Romney will get a boost from two vice presidential hopefuls in two key swing states. Sen. Rob Portman will hop aboard a Romney bus for a five-stop day in Colorado while former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty will hold an event at a Victory Center in Jackson, Mich.

RNC SPEAKERS OFF VEEP LIST? NOT SO FAST: The Republican National Committee is slowly releasing a list of names of high-profile Republicans, such as Condoleezza Rice and Rick Santorum, who will headline the GOP convention in Tampa later this month. But just because someone's name appears on this rundown doesn't mean they can be ruled out as candidates for vice president. This, according to Mitt Romney himself, who suggested Tuesday the list could be a ruse. "You don't think that we would be so silly as to not provide, from time to time, the capacity to throw people off, do you? The fact that someone is speaking at the convention doesn't mean that they wouldn't necessarily find their speaking slot changed from one time to another," Romney said in a Fox News interview with Carl Cameron.

VEEPSTAKES AS A POLITICAL STRIPTEASE: The vice presidential search is more than a guessing game or a waiting game. It's a political striptease, with campaigns slowly peeling off layers one at a time until we get to the naked truth: Whom Mitt Romney will pick as his running mate. From speculating when the announcement will be made to dissecting how certain states play in the VP strategy, any piece of information can come under scrutiny for its connection to Romney and potential VP contenders. Check out this week's TopLine with ABC News' Senior Washington Editor Rick Klein and Political Director Amy Walter.


@robportman: Packed house at Richland Co @ ohiovictory center. Lots of excitement to get @ mittromney elected & America back to work

@govchristie: Today I signed "Alex DeCroce's Law" to secure the rights & compassionate treatment of crime victims & their families.

@governorva: 400 new good-paying jobs are coming to Frederick County, Virginia.

@kellyayotte: CBO says deficit @ $975B, on pace to top $1 trillion mark for 4th straight year.