Take a Deep Breath: Veepstakes Aren’t Over Yet

BY Christina Bellantoni and Terence Burlij  June 20, 2012 at 9:16 AM EDT

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

Mitt Romney said Tuesday that his campaign is “thoroughly vetting” Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, above, as a potential running mate. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

Let’s get something straight. You aren’t going to learn about Mitt Romney’s choice to be his running mate by reading a newspaper or clicking on a story. Especially not in June.

Stories about who is — or isn’t — on a so-called short list are really fun to write, and even more fun to gab about at a party.

And sure, stories about what goes into the selection (like Phil Elliott’s Associated Press piece exploring Romey’s hiring style at Bain Capital and how that may shape his veep search, or Politico’s story about Tim Pawlenty emerging as a “favorite,” for example) can be useful for telling voters what might make the man who wants to be president tick.

It’s a media story more than anything else: Who can track the secret meeting between a hopeful and the guy at the top of the ticket? Which news outlet can break word of the vice presidential announcement seconds before the rest? Which reporter who staked out in the hopeful’s driveway will score the first interview? Who has uncovered that juicy soundbite from a 1995 legislative debate or the passage in the book that suggests the running mate has a certain quality? Those stories are all going to be written, and we’ll certainly be crafting some of them and linking to the rest.

But in the end, any micro detail about whether Ohio Sen. Rob Portman has submitted tax returns for Team Romney to pore over or whether Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is actually under consideration doesn’t matter.

While Romney may have told reporters Tuesday that an ABC story suggesting Rubio isn’t under consideration was “false,” and while he may have insisted that Rubio is “being thoroughly vetted,” let’s face the facts: Romney isn’t going to share the process of his most important campaign decision with the nation. And especially not in June.

“There are only two people in this country who know who are being vetted and who are not, and that’s Beth Myers and myself. And I know Beth well. She doesn’t talk to anybody,” Romney said.

Campaign aides or friends of the candidate float names for various reasons, but it’s often to flatter the person whose help they need in battleground states or as fundraisers (See: Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie), or to make sure a certain segment of voters knows, at least, their guy or girl is at least getting a look, or to shore up status in a certain battleground state.

Some constituency is always disappointed when the veepstakes play out, and time and again voters prove that while the pick could be influential, they don’t choose a president based on his running mate.

So what does that all mean for who it’s going to be? Your NewsHour team here at the Morning Line are going to do something different and tell you the truth: We don’t know.

And that’s totally okay. We promise we’ll explore the person’s record, personal story and bring that to you in great detail online and on the air. But until then, let’s all take a deep breath and wait until Romney makes an announcement.

THE TV WAR

Team Obama is making another run at Romney’s record as governor of Massachusetts with the release of two new television ads in nine key states Wednesday.

The spots will air in Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

In the ad titled “Mosaic,” the narrator charges that Romney cut taxes for millionaires while raising taxes and fees on “everyone else” by $1.5 billion. The list of fee hikes given includes on school bus rides, nursing homes and for fisherman and gun owners.

You can watch that ad here or below:

The second spot, titled “Come and Go,” seeks to link Romney’s private sector experience to how he managed Massachusetts’ economy.

“[A]s a corporate raider he shipped jobs to China and Mexico,” the narrator intones. “As governor, he did the same thing: outsourcing state jobs to India.”

You can watch the ad here or below:

President Obama’s campaign has targeted Romney’s record at Bain Capital more directly in the past, but in this latest spot the attack is more focused on the approach he would bring to governing than the results of his past business practices.

In a statement, Romney campaign spokesperson Andrea Saul said the new ads represented “the latest effort by the Obama campaign to distract attention from the President’s failed policies that have led to high unemployment and falling incomes.”

“Mitt Romney was a successful businessman and governor with a decades-long record of helping to create American jobs, in contrast to President Obama’s hostility to free enterprise that has left millions of Americans out of work,” Saul added.

The pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future released a new television ad of its own Wednesday slamming the president for his remark that “the private sector is doing fine.”

The 30-second spot highlights sour economic statistics such as 40 straight months of the unemployment rate being above 8 percent and 23 million Americans who can’t find full-time jobs. It will run as part of a $7.6 million ad buy in the same nine states as the president’s latest ads.

You can watch the ad here or below:

IMMIGRATION AFTERMATH

The Obama administration’s move last week to help immigrants who have grown up in the United States obtain work visas has put the president one up this week. On Tuesday’s NewsHour, Gwen Ifill examined the fallout from Mr. Obama’s decision and how it factors into each campaign’s efforts to court Hispanic voters.

“It does certainly seem like the White House has won this round,” said Lisa Lerer of Bloomberg News, who wrote the story about a new poll showing that 64 percent of likely voters support the president’s decision.

While it is a popular decision among independent voters, the issue is extremely partisan and controversial, she added.

“The administration has been unable to pass comprehensive immigration reform, and now this gives the president something to campaign on with the Latino community,” Lerer told the Morning Line before appearing on the program. “And it pulls Republicans into a fight they don’t want to have.”

There’s a bigger picture here, too, Lerer said. The Republicans and Democrats not only want to gain support from Latino voters for this election; they’re hoping to capture young Latinos and make them base voters over the long term. She said:

It doesn’t look good for Republicans to come out against kids. Kids, it’s like, who doesn’t like kids? And that was part of the White House’s plan here was to put — to hopefully position Republicans in such a way that it’s a Republican against an upstanding high school senior, and that’s not a good place for the Republicans to be.

There isn’t really a question about the Democrats trying to use the issue for political gain, but the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee went right at the heart of the issue in a fundraising email. The note specifically targeted Romey’s difficulty answering the question about whether he would overturn the president’s deportation decision.

“[Five] times, he refused to answer,” wrote Angela Guzman, DCCC Grassroots Outreach Director. “Mitt must think he can placate his right-wing base without alienating immigrant communities if he just stays silent.” The email linked to a petition asking Romney to back the DREAM Act. “If he were elected President, he could rescind President Obama’s new policy on Day One. We need to know where he stands,” she wrote.

Watch Gwen’s segment here or below.

LABOR BOASTS OF ‘UNPRECEDENTED’ CAMPAIGN

The Service Employees International Union announced plans for a ground campaign targeting voters in eight key battleground states as part of an effort to re-elect the president, NewsHour politics production assistant Allie Morris reports. Using a boots-on-the-ground approach, SEIU plans to knock on more than 3 million doors and make some 13 million phone calls, talking to both union members and the general public about voter rights and issues facing working families, SEIU national political director Brandon Davis said in a conference call Tuesday.

In 2008, SEIU ran a similar campaign, knocking on some 3.5 million doors and registering more than 227,000 new voters, according to its website. This election cycle, the union will take a more expansive approach, according to Davis, reaching out to three times as many non-union voters as it has before.

“I think what you are hearing from us is a robust ground game because we think that that’s where our advantage is,” he said. “Boots on the ground are the way that you move the electorate and the way you engage the electorate.”

The campaign is aimed at voters in Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Virginia.

The announcement comes a week after SEIU revealed plans to launch a $4 million Spanish-language ad campaign, in conjunction with Priorities USA Action, targeting Latino voters in Colorado, Florida and Nevada.

2012 LINE ITEMS

  • The Washington Post’s Philip Rucker looks at the 1984 photo of Bain Capital founders posing with cash that embodies Romney’s strengths and challenges as a candidate.

  • Slate’s John Dickerson has a great piece on Romney’s Mormon faith.

  • A Bloomberg poll released Wednesday gives the president a 53 percent to 40 percent lead over Romney among likely voters.

  • The New York Times’ Ashley Parker writes about Romney’s push to win his birth state of Michigan.

  • The New York Times’ Peter Baker and Michael Cooper fact-checked the president and Romney’s economic speeches.

  • As aforementioned veep lore grows, intrepid reporters bring into the world ridiculous stories such as this. Quote: “[Sen. Rob] Portman neither confirmed nor denied the existence of a haunting spirit in his hotel.”

  • The all-important T-shirt test over at CafePress found that for the first time, Texas Rep. Ron Paul is sliding from the lead in sales. The retailer reports that Paul is now tied with President Obama at 41 percent of sales, trailed by Romney at 17 percent. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson “inches upward in the t-shirt meter as well.” Also worth mentioning, 41 percent of the sales are pro-Obama shirts, while 59 percent are anti-Obama.

  • Is it a super PAC or Nintendo game?

  • ProPublica’s Justin Elliott crunches the numbers of civilian deaths in drone attacks and finds the numbers don’t add up.

TOP TWEETS

OUTSIDE THE LINES

  • Vice President Joe Biden appeared at a fundraiser in Sacramento Tuesday with California Gov. Jerry Brown. Biden told donors he met Brown in the 1970s and, “Nothing has changed.” Biden said: “He was the smartest guy in American politics then. He’s still the smartest guy in American politics.”

  • Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., announced Tuesday that the House Oversight Committee will proceed Wednesday with a vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt over his failure to share documents related to the botched Fast and Furious gun-running operation.

  • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., actually said, “That’s a clown question, bro.” It wasn’t quite a trending topic, but lit up Twitter.

  • It’s official. Congress has not been productive this year.

  • Sheldon Adelson is giving $1 million to Rep. Connie Mack in his bid to unseat Florida Sen. Bill Nelson.

  • Ron Barber is now a member of Congress.

  • Big Pizza unites to fight proposals to put calorie countes on menu boards, the Washington Post reports.

  • The DCCC outraised the National Republican Congressional Committee by $680,000 in May, Roll Call reports, while the NRCC has upped its ad buys against vulnerable Democrats.

  • National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar is out with new analysis on the fight for House control, writing: “Democrats are likely to run very competitively in suburban swing districts and regain a number of seats that they lost in 2010. But House Republicans are still putting Democrats on the defensive in rural and working-class confines, threatening to pick up additional seats they didn’t win in the midterm wave.”

  • Indiana Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels is expected to become the next president of Purdue University.

  • Virginia Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell said for the first time Tuesday that the ouster of University of Virginia president Teresa Sullivan had been mishandled by the Board of Visitors.

  • A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday found that 60 percent of Florida voters support Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s effort to purge non-citizens from the state’s voter rolls. Thirty-five percent of Floridians surveyed said they opposed the move.

  • The DCCC won’t give up jackabramoff.com, Politico reports.

  • Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., is the new rising star of deficit talks, The Hill reports.

  • Roll Call’s Jonathan Strong finds that the Congressional Black Caucus is facing many challenges.

  • Supreme Court reporter extraordinaire Marcia Coyle is now on Twitter. She’s @MarciaCoyle, and we’re expecting to see her a lot on NewsHour in the coming weeks.

  • Members of Congress and local politicians will gather Wednesday night at Microsoft Innovation and Policy Center in Washington, D.C., to watch an episode of “Restaurant: Impossible” on the Food Network. The episode featured first lady Michelle Obama and the D.C. nonprofit Horton’s Kids as they worked to redesign and build a new Community Resource Center in Anacostia.

Katelyn Polantz contributed to this report

ON THE TRAIL

All events are listed in Eastern Time.

  • President Obama has no public events.

  • Vice President Joe Biden attends a campaign event in Carmel, Calif., at 1:30 p.m. and delivers remarks at the 37th Annual Convention and Career Fair of the National Association of Black Journalists in New Orleans at 8 p.m.

  • First lady Michelle Obama attends a pair of Colorado campaign events: in Arapahoe County at 12:30 p.m. and Pueblo at 3:40 p.m.

  • Mitt Romney has no public events.

All future events can be found on our Political Calendar:


For more political coverage, visit our politics page.

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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

Follow the politics team on Twitter: @cbellantoni, @burlij, @elizsummers, @kpolantz, @indiefilmfan, @tiffanymullon, @dePeystah and @meenaganesan.