Mitt Romney could name his running mate within days, a top adviser said, and the guessing game is reaching a fever pitch.
Senior aide Eric Fehrnstrom said on Monday that Romney hasn't settled on anyone, but could make a final decision in the coming days. However he later backed down, telling Reuters, “An announcement could happen any time between now and the convention.”
The news agency claimed that “speculation was growing” that Romney has cut his shortlist to three candidates: Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
A separate report in the New York Times said Romney has made up his mind. It was contained in an article spotlighting Pawlenty, but did not say whether he was the choice for running mate.
However, it made a strong case for him. “An appealing counterbalance to Romney being a son of a wealthy man and going to elite schools is Pawlenty being the son of a truck driver who went to the University of Minnesota,” Ray Washburne, a Dallas businessman, told the Times. “He’s not elite in any sense of the word.”
Reuters said that naming his vice-president now instead of waiting until late August and the Republican National Committee would have the advantage of taking the spotlight off Romney’s tenure at his private equity firm Bain Capital. President Barack Obama and the Democrats have made hay out of documents that seem to suggest that he was still working at the firm while running the 2002 Winter Olympics.
“The controversy is proving to be a distraction for the Romney campaign and overshadowing his attempt to make the election campaign about Obama's handling of the U.S. economy amid 8.2 percent unemployment and record budget deficits,” Reuters said.
The latest reports come after speculation that both former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Dakota Sen. John Thune are also in the mix.
Others whose names have been mentioned include Sens. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Marco Rubio of Florida; Govs. Chris Christie of New Jersey and Bob McDonnell of Virginia; and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
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