That's not that surprising, since New Hampshire U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte has appeared with Mitt in several campaign appearances - as has Rob Portman, Bobby Jindal, Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio - all purported to be high on the former Massachusetts shortlist for potential running mates.
On Fox News Sunday, Bill Kristol threw out another name that supposedly is not on the list, former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.
"I don't think she's just talking, " Krisol said of Mrs. Romney's remarks.
But guest host John Roberts (and can I ask that not having seen the former CBS and CNN newsman for awhile, what's with the hair?) countered that Rice has already said she's not interested in the gig. What about that?
KRISTOL: Well, Dick Cheney said no, thanks, I don't want it in 2000. And the truth is, if you just step back — and, I mean, I have — I, myself am for Paul Ryan or Marco Rubio and other types like that. But if you are — as the Romney campaign is — data-driven and you look at polls and you look at Condoleezza Rice as favorable and unfavorable ratings, including among swing voters, women voters, et cetera, you could make a case that — and she's totally qualified. But she also be an exciting pick. You could talk yourself into picking Condoleezza Rice.
Kristol's Fox News Sunday colleague E.B. Stoddard from the Hill newspaper disagreed, saying she believes Romney will choose Portman, the former congressman, budget director and U.S. trade representative for President George W. Bush who was elected to the Senate in 2010, will be the guy (Ayotte and Rubio incidentally, also were elected in 2010).
"He needs Rob Portman in the Congress. He really needs him to help legislate and govern."
The harbinger of conventional wisdom, Intrade, currently has Portman as the top pick, with Minnesota's Tim Pawlenty a distant second (Rubio stands right behind Pawlenty).
The nominating speech of the vice presidential candidate is expected to be one of the few truly news making events that will take place at the Republican National Convention, scheduled to take place in seven weeks in Tampa.
No name has been more bandied about in press accounts as being the #2 than Florida's Rubio, whose meteoric rise has only grown in the weeks since he's memoir An American Son was published (the book sits at number ten in the New York Times Book Review).
Rubio could be chosen, but it seems doubtful. Or have you forgotten how Romney went against every fiber of his being a few weeks ago and said that Rubio was being vetted for the job, after Jonathan Karl with ABC News reported that morning that he wasn't?
Romney hasn't said a word about Pawlenty, Portman, Jindal, or any of the candidates seriously being considered. So why Rubio? Why didn't he just that that he wasn't going to talk about any names until the process was complete?
Because he probably received an earful in just a few hours from talk-show hosts, bloggers and others who yearn for Rubio - and Romney has shown if nothing else in this campaign that he won't be vulnerable to the right wing.
Romney apparently will use Rubio often over the next four months as a surrogate with Latino audiences, however. Meeting with a private group of potential supporters and business and media elites a couple of weeks ago, Politico reported that "Romney said the Hispanic vote is important, noting he has Sen. Marco Rubio on the trail for him."
Translation? Romney is getting killed with Hispanics, and Rubio might stop some of that bleeding, but not enough to pick him as the VP nominee.
Talking about women in the GOP, the biggest names mentioned have been Ayotte, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez.
But as we've written about in the past, Martinez is absolutely a no-go, since her immigration stances are way too opposed to where Romney has stood (and stands. In that exclusive Politico report, Romney admits he went far right on the issue during the GOP primaries, but says "I am not going to be a flip-flopper," meaning that he won't backtrack on that hardline approach.
Haley would be a major surprise, but Ayotte would not. The 44-year-old junior Senator from New Hampshire previously served as Attorney General in the Granite State. She is solidly conservative (including supporting Arizona's AB 1070 law that had portions of it recent struck down by the Supreme Court and disputes that climate change is man made).
About Condi - she's an unlikely out of the box choice for one obvious reason to this reporter. She's never ran for office. Excluding military officials (Eisenhower, Wesley Clark), how many non-elected officials have been on a presidential ticket? Forget about the fact that her credentials regarding abortion rights have been questioned.. And there is that whole association with George W. Bush that still doesn't go over well with the majority of the American public.
Although some analysts said that Romney should go against conventional wisdom and pick a nominee sooner than usual to have firepower on the campaign trail, that seems doubtful, meaning that we probably won't know Mitt's running mate until sometime in mid August.
One of the latest decisions ever to name a VP came just four years ago, when John McCain shocked the world when naming Sarah Palin just three days before the RNC in St. Paul.
We all know how that turned out. Meaning that whomever makes their nominating speech on Wednesday, August 29 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum presumably will have been thoroughly vetted and ready for prime time.