It's one of the most treasured spotlights -- and one of the most thankless tasks -- in American politics. For one night this year, a Republican will become the face of the party and offer a response to the president of the United States after he delivers the State of the Union address.
The spotlight is intense; despite the fact that the response gets a far smaller audience than the president's address, it's still watched by everyone in Washington, and by millions more around the country. It can highlight a rising star in the GOP, like last year's address in which Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell shone. Or it can be easily mocked for one outstanding feature; think of the parodies of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's performance, or of then-Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine's seemingly independent eyebrow.
The honor comes with a requirement not unlike the Hippocratic oath: Above all, just don't screw up.
Here's what we know so far, according to our own reporting:
-- House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who have the final say in the matter, are not going to pick themselves. But they have made the pick, and, a spokesman joked to us yesterday, they will announce their choice on a day that ends in "y." Thanks for narrowing it down, guys.
-- Sen. Marco Rubio's (R-Fla.) not the one. His spokesman said the freshman will not give the address.
-- Also out: South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R). A source in Haley's office says she hasn't been asked.
But we still have four of our top six most-likely picks on the board. If you like to bet, you might want to put your money on Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R), Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R). For a complete roster and our in-house odds, click here.