The political world was abuzz Thursday night after Drudge Report reported that former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was a front-runner for presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s running-mate spot.
The leak was immediately treated with a healthy dose of skepticism from the political class: Rice has said she’s not interested in the job, she has no political experience, she supports abortion rights in a party that regards that as a near-litmus test, and hawks don’t have fond memories of her foreign-policy record in the Bush administration.
Many went a step further, mocking Drudge’s track record in predicting the veepstakes (he hyped Frank Keating in 2000, Dick Gephardt in 2004, and Evan Bayh in 2008). And pundits noted the suspicious timing of the leaked news, right after Romney faced tough new questions about the timing of his tenure at Bain Capital.
But the floating of Rice sounds a lot more like a trial balloon from the Romney campaign than deliberately bad information that Drudge cooked up. Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades is famously close to Drudge, suggesting there’s a deliberate strategy at play here for the campaign. And there are reasons why Romney would consider Rice, if she was interested, for the position.
Rice drew rave reviews for her in-depth foreign-policy speech at Romney’s Park City retreat last month, where she offered up a lot of red-meat rhetoric against the president. Politically speaking, she could win over enough female voters, and perhaps cut a little into the African-American vote, which could put Romney over the top. The conservative base is already so steamed at President Obama that a little apostasy from certain conservative corners might not make a big difference.
Make no mistake: Rice is still a long shot for the spot. She would add an awful lot of risk for a candidate whose political career has been spent avoiding it. But the leak sounded an awful lot like a deliberate test for how conservatives would react, rather than bad information from an overexuberant source outside Romneyland. If she generated some favorable buzz, that could indeed suggest she’d be in the running. But with many conservative opinion leaders expressing their displeasure and the media not buying it, it’s hard to see a realistic path for Rice on the Romney ticket.
--Josh Kraushaar, Hotline executive editor
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRESIDENTIAL RACE REPORT
Romney to Blanket Airwaves with 5 Interviews Tonight
[Washington Post, 7/13/12] Facing controversy over his tenure at Bain Capital, Mitt Romney takes to the airwaves tonight on no fewer than five networks. The Post suggests a few lines of inquiry: Condoleezza Rice, those hidden tax returns, his offshore accounts, and just how long he was as the venture capital firm.
Romney’s Own 2002 Testimony Undermines Bain Departure Claim
[Huffington Post, 7/12/12] According to Mitt Romney’s own testimony in June 2002, given as part of a hearing to determine whether he had sufficient residency status in Massachusetts to run for governor, Romney continued to hold key positions at Bain Capital after he claimed he had left the firm.
Quarter-Billion Spent on Presidential Ads
[National Journal, 7/13/12] Democrats, Republicans, and outside groups have combined to purchase $290 million in television time so far across 13 states that are expected to be competitive come November. This week alone, the players spent $23.8 million targeting undecided voters and in Florida.
Conservatives Hail the New, Tougher Romney
[National Journal, 7/13/12] For weeks, conservative leaders have publicly pilloried Romney for failing to rebut President Obama’s criticism that his opponent was an “outsourcer in chief.” But Romney struck back on Thursday with a brass-knuckled rebuttal and a high-dollar new TV ad that calls Obama untrustworthy.
RNC Launches Independent Unit
[National Journal, 7/13/12] The Republican National Committee will spend $5 million on television advertisements promoting Romney's campaign in seven states beginning tomorrow. The ad money is being funneled through the RNC's independent expenditure unit.
McDonnell Blasts Obama Campaign on Bain
[National Journal, 7/13/12] Virginia Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell on Friday accused Obama’s reelection team of waging a “campaign of division and misrepresentation” in advance of Obama’s visit to the state. He called the argument that Bain outsourced jobs while Romney was at the firm’s helm “dishonest.”
Santorum to Hold First Campaign Event for Romney
[ABC News, 7/13/12] On Saturday, Rick Santorum will hold his first formal campaign event for Romney since the latter became the presumptive Republican nominee. The occasion will be the opening of a "victory office" in Pennsylvania.
Romney Veep Clock Running Out
[National Journal, 7/13/12] Time is running short for Romney to make his selection in advance of the Republican convention in late August, as National Journal’s Beth Reinhard and Rebecca Kaplan write. Romney has refused to give any hints about his timing, even though unveiling his running mate in July would allow him to leave his top surrogate in charge while he’s abroad at the end of the month.
After Drudge Report, Conservatives Dismiss Idea of Condi as VP
[Washington Examiner, 7/13/12] Drudge Report on Thursday night announced that former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was currently the “frontrunner” in Romney’s search for a veep candidate. But many conservatives, like National Review’s Katrina Trinko and Robert Costa, dismissed the idea.
Romney Teases VP Selection in E-Mail to Supporters
[CNN, 7/13/12] With all of the buzz surrounding a possible vice presidential announcement coming from Romney, his campaign took advantage of the attention and sent an e-mail to supporters teasing a VP pick. The campaign is holding a contest for supporters to get to meet Romney’s eventual No. 2.
Growing Republican Chorus Pushes Romney to Release Tax Returns
[TPM, 7/13/12] Democrats have been howling over Romney’s finances for months, claiming that voters can’t fairly judge the presumptive GOP nominee if he doesn’t release past tax returns. Bill Clinton on Friday said he was "perplexed" as to why Romney doesn't bow to the pressure. Now, a handful of Republicans seem to be concerned Romney is leaving himself vulnerable on the issue.
Obama Faces Tough Challenges in Virginia Over Energy
[National Journal, 7/13/12] Virginia is home to high-stakes political fights over the war on coal, offshore drilling, and green jobs. Romney’s team sees in Virginia a chance to challenge Obama’s economic record by citing “job-killing” coal regulations, while Obama is counting on the state’s strides in renewable energy as a winning issue. Meanwhile, Republicans are trying to attack Obama over defense cuts, which would impact Virginians.
Rove Hits Big: The Birth of a Mega-Donor
[Politico, 7/13/12] The relationship between political guru Karl Rove and casino mogul Steve Wynn, who has donated millions to Crossroads GPS, illustrates how one of the biggest changes to politics in a generation—the explosion of unlimited secret money—really works.
Gallup: Young Voters’ Turnout Intentions Lagging
[Gallup, 7/13/12] Just 58 percent of U.S. registered voters between the ages of 18 to 29 say they will “definitely” vote this fall, well below the current national average of 78 percent and far below the voting intentions of the age block in the falls of 2004 and 2008.
Republicans’ Discontent With High Court Drives Down Its Poll Numbers
[National Journal, 7/12/12] In the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the constitutionality of the 2010 health care law, new polling shows that the percentage who have an unfavorable opinion of the Court is higher than at any point since Pew began tracking it in 1985—especially among Republicans.
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