3) The Washington Post's Felicia Sonmez examines the receptions Sens. Marco Rubio and Rob Portman -- two of the names believed to be atop Romney's short list of possible VP running mate -- received at Thursday's Faith and Freedom Coalition conference. "While the even-tempered Portman received a warm reception for a speech that focused heavily on his family and personal faith, it was Rubio who electrified the crowd, drawing repeated rounds of cheers and applause with an address heavy on soaring rhetoric about American exceptionalism," she writes. The respective speeches neatly sum up the Portman/Rubio split. With Portman, Romney has a safe, polished choice, if one lacking in excitement. In Rubio, Romney gets a dose of starpower. 2) Look for VP speculation to ramp up even more over the next week, as a trio of names consistently mentioned as possibilities will stump with Romney over the next few days: Portman, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. 1) This morning, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and challenger Dan Liljenquist will square off in their one and only debate after the April convention and ahead of the June 26 primary vote. Liljenquist has been hounding Hatch for more debates, so look for him to continue casting Hatch as an evasive pol during the debate. Hatch, meanwhile, is still in the driver's seat and doesn't have to do or say anything flashy today to maintain is position. A mistake-free outing is all he is really after. There is a huge cash disparity in the race: The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Hatch has spent $1 million on TV and radio ads in during the stretch run of the primary, while Liljenquist, has countered with $152,000 in broadcast ads. That's a mighty big gap for the underdog to overcome.
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