“That’s not meant so much as a criticism of Governor Palin as it is that I just thought it was not — the process didn’t meet the standards I would like to see our candidate pursue when they pick a running mate.”
-- Former Vice President Dick Cheney, who also led the vice presidential vetting process that resulted in his selection by then-Gov. George W. Bush in 2000, on “Hannity” walking back comments made last week to ABC News calling Sen. John McCain’s 2008 selection of Palin “a mistake.”
Mitt Romney has 18 days in which to announce his choice of his running mate, and you can bet he’s going to milk as much from the topic as is humanly possible. So what’s the advantage in stopping the fun early?
Romney is prepared to tantalize the press pool with another round of house calls on top-tier contenders starting Saturday as he takes bus tours through Virginia (Gov. Bob McDonnell), Florida (Sen. Marco Rubio) and Ohio (Sen. Rob Portman).
The idea here is to ramp up the speculation to the most furious levels possible – to get reporters and Republicans totally immersed in the quadrennial parlor game of running-mate speculation.
For months, Team Romney has hinted that the running mate announcement would come early so as to create more buzz and give the duo more time to campaign ahead of the convention. But does that really make sense?
The primary alternative narrative from the reporters in the press corps is about how Romney mistreats them and has a bad press operation and struggles with communications. (Nothing will get a reporter’s creative juices flowing like the chance to do a story about how a politician is impeding the vital work of the fourth estate. Or if there are no chocolate chip cookies on the press charter.)
Also available to Romney are stories about his tax filings as the Obama Democrats continue to pour out venom on the former Bain CEO’s income tax filings. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid having set a new baseline for acceptable attacks, others will feel emboldened to make slightly less shocking claims.
If Romney were to announce that he were picking McDonnell at a rally in Manassas, Va. On Saturday, that would leave more than two weeks before Republicans convene in Tampa. That’s plenty of time in the modern media blender for the excitement to be all gone and the discussion be back on Romney’s 1040 forms or a media dissection of Romney’s handling of the media.
Plus, it would give the press corps and the Obama campaign more than two weeks to splurp out all of the juicy tidbits for any running mate’s past. By the time he took the stage on Aug. 29, the story could be about McDonnell’s graduate dissertation on gender roles in the family, rather than the speech itself.
You can imagine the news lead “Amid swirling controversy surrounding his controversial writings, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell looked to quell concerns in his convention speech…”
The same would be true of any of the other two of Romney’s bus buddy. Given the harshness toward Romney already exhibited by those who cover him, both Portman (Bush budgets) and Rubio (personal finances) would be immediately shoved into a defensive crouch. It might fade in time, but not before Tampa.
Especially if Romney is going to go bold in his choice – Rep. Paul Ryan, Gov. Chris Christie as the most plausible long shots – the same would be true of the next two weeks.
If Romney wants to make the most of his convention and the 10 weeks that follow, why leave a veep on the shelf for two weeks to be pecked at by cranky crows in press corps? As much as Republican operative may complain about the selection and preparation process for Sarah Palin, at least give John McCain this: she came out with a bang.
Why not cut short the scavenger hunt and wait until the week of the 21st and barnstorm into the convention?
Romney staffers are being characteristically tight-lipped on the subject of the timing of the announcement, but one acknowledged this to Power Play: “This is the only story that we really control from beginning to end. We’re going to make the most of it.”
The Day in Quotes
"It's like Robin Hood in reverse -- it's Romney-hood."
-- President Obama speaking to supporters in Stamford, Conn. Deriding Republican Mitt Romney’s proposal for an across-the board tax cut, which the left-leaning Tax Policy Center said would eventuate a net tax increase for middle-income earners.
“I'm not aware of the White House speaking to Senator Reid about this issue. I would simply say that you all probably know Senator Reid well, and, you know, he speaks for himself. And he, you know, has addressed this issue.”
-- White House Press Secretary Jay Carney responding to a question about claims by the Senate majority leader that he has a secret source who knows Mitt Romney paid no taxes for a decade, a charge Romney vehemently denies.
“If you could depend on the government for one thing it was that you had to be able to trust the water that our kids drank and the food that they ate. But [the Republicans are] the E. coli club. They do not want to spend money to do that.”
-- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi speaking at a campaign event for a Democratic candidate in Boca Raton, Fla., as quoted by The Hill.
“A lot of times, these ‘regular people’ have good intentions, but they are not that qualified. I think Marty [his character in his new film] would be a Tea Party kind of guy, which is so old-fashioned but also kind of tough for me to support. I understand Tea Partyers’ anger with the system, but they are in way over their heads and often racially motivated, and I can’t be a part of that.”
-- Actor Zach Galifianakis in an interview with the New York Daily News.
The Big Number
-- The portion of doctors in a survey conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics that said they would not accept new Medicaid patients. President Obama’s 2010 health law relies on major expansions of the program to meet his promise of universal insurance coverage for all Americans.
And Now, A Word From Charles
“This is a president came in on hope and change, transcending partisanship, a new kind of politics. Four years later with a failed administration, where is the administration stooping? To McCarthyite tactics which it refuses to disavow. This is about as low as you can go.”
-- Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”
Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News, and his POWER PLAY column appears Monday-Friday on FoxNews.com. Catch Chris Live online daily at 11:30amET at http:live.foxnews.com.
Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C.