Report: Romney may name VP pick this week

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney campaigns at Carter Machinery Company, Inc., in Salem, Va., Tuesday, June 26, 2012.
AP Photo/Charles Dharapak
Romney
AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

(CBS News) Mitt Romney may name his vice presidential pick as early as this week, the New York Times reports.

The move could stir up some excitement for the Republican candidate and potentially provide a distraction from the scrutiny he's received recently over when he worked at Bain Capital and refusal to release more than two years worth of tax returns.

The window of opportunity for Romney to announce his running mate ahead of the Republican National Convention, which starts in Tampa Bay on August 27, is narrowing: Romney is traveling to London to attend the opening ceremony of the Olympics in just 11 days. After that, he is stopping in Israel to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Announcing his running mate weeks before the convention could cause headaches for Romney, since it opens up the campaign to new scrutiny. As former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a seasoned Republican, said earlier this year of choosing a running mate: "Never make a political decision until you have to."

Still, revealing his decision now would help Romney regain control of the political narrative at a time when the Obama campaign appears intent on continuing its hard-nosed attacks on Romney's business record. The right running mate could serve as an effective attack dog against the Obama campaign and help generate more campaign donations.

A handful of prominent Republicans reportedly remain in the running for the VP slot, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, South Dakota Sen. John Thune and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

AP Photo/Bruce Smith

As the Times notes in its report, Pawlenty has become a strong advocate for Romney on the campaign trail, bucking his reputation as a dull politician unable to excite a crowd. Romney and Pawlenty have reportedly developed a good rapport on the trail, moving past their GOP primary feuding, when Pawlenty coined the term "Obamneycare." Furthermore, Pawlenty's working-class upbringing and evangelical Christian faith would help the Romney campaign.

Like Pawlenty, Jindal would also help Romney improve his standing with evangelical Republicans and bring executive experience to the table. He's won over conservatives with his handling of the 2010 BP oil spill, as well as state budget issues, the Washington Post reports. The governor joins Romney today at a Baton Rouge fundraiser and has been a fierce surrogate for the presidential candidate thus far.

Thune, meanwhile, told the Hill that he has met with Romney's senior advisers and Beth Myers, the trusted adviser running the vice presidential search process. The South Dakota senator could help Romney in midwestern states like Iowa and could excite conservative activists. He would, however, be called to defend his 2008 vote of support for the Wall Street bailout and his past support of earmarking.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Condoleezza Rice has generated buzz since delivering what was described as a commanding speech at a retreat the Romney campaign hosted in Park City, Utah. The former diplomat today received an endorsement from the Boston Herald editorial staff, which wrote, "Romney needs the kind of foreign policy gravitas that Rice would bring to the ticket... Condi Rice would in many ways be a breath of fresh air on the campaign trail -- her grace, her presence and, wow, can she play a concert grand. The choice of Rice would be bold but without being risky -- really, what's not to like?"

Political commentators have noted many things that Romney supporters might find not to like, however. Chief among them: The fact that Rice has called herself "moderately pro-choice."

Another choice that could generate some buzz would be Chris Christie, the unabashedly outspoken New Jersey governor. Perhaps to prove his buzzworthiness, Christie's office recently released a list called "Chris Christie by the numbers," which shows that the governor has generated 5 million YouTube hits and has raised taxes a grand total of zero times. Christie, however, could be an especially risky choice. He's engaged in some confrontations that have raised eyebrows, and the New York Times reported last month that his tardiness to events may have made a bad impression on the Romney campaign.

Rob Portman, meanwhile, could be a safer -- if blander -- choice. The senator's strongest asset is his organization in Ohio, a must-win state this year. Portman will campaign for Romney in Lebanon, Ohio today just hours before President Obama campaigns in Cincinnati. According to CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller, the president has made more trips to Ohio than any state other than New York, a fundraising mecca, and Washington's neighboring states of Maryland and Virginia.

This story was corrected to note that President Obama is campaigning in Cincinnati today, not Cleveland.