VP deadline looming, Republicans weigh in

White House hopeful Mitt Romney speaks at a small-business roundtable discussion at Endural, a manufacturer of plastic containers, on July 23, 2012 in Costa Mesa, California. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Romney arrived for the roundtable discussion following a morning fundraiser in Irvine. AFP PHOTO/Frederic J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/GettyImages) FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/GettyImages

Mitt Romney.
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/GettyImages
(CBS News) With just weeks to go until the Republican National Convention this August, the Mitt Romney veep-watch is on full throttle - and not everyone in the peanut gallery is content to sit back and wait for the presumptive GOP nominee to announce his decision. With polls neck-and-neck and a decision impending, members of the Republican establishment are offering up their unsolicited advice as to who they think he should put on the ticket.

Romney has been consistently mum on the decision, revealing few clues to his thought process. But he's largely avoided addressing the endless cycle of speculation and gossip surrounding the subject: Asked in a recent interview with NBC's Brian Williams if he planned to pick an "incredibly boring white guy," as has been suggested, Romney laughed off the suggestion: "You told me you were not available," he quipped.

(Boehner and Portman slam Obama on taxes in recent speeches in video on the left.)

Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, who Bloomberg recently described as "the best of the boring white guys," is widely believed to be near the top of Romney's short-list.

House Speaker John Boehner seems to be pushing for that option. In an interview with Fox News Friday morning, the Ohio Republican touted his Buckeye State colleague as a potentially "great asset" for Romney.

"I'm partial to Rob Portman," he said. "I've been a long-time friend. He's a United States senator from Ohio, served as the director of Office of Management and Budget under George W. Bush, also served as the U.S. trade rep, served in the House of Representatives as well. Knows his way around Washington, and I think he'd be a great asset for Governor Romney."

Portman, who could help Romney's chances in the crucial battleground state of Ohio, is widely seen as a solid, if unexciting, bet.

But a number of prominent Republicans are pulling for Marco Rubio, the Cuban-American Republican Senator from Florida, who has a solidly conservative background and could wield his influence with two crucial demographics: Latinos, and Floridians.

(Romney says Rubio "thoroughly vetted" in video on the left.)

Jeb Bush, the popular former governor from Florida, told the Associated Press that he thinks Rubio is ready to be VP, and that he shared those thoughts with the former Massachusetts governor.

"He's of a different generation," piled on former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, in an interview with Tampa's News Channel 8. Calling Rubio the "most exciting" option on the table, he added: "He makes outreach much more possible to a younger people -- people in their 30s, where the Republican Party has a little bit of a -- of a deficit."

According to the New York Times, Karl Rove and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-K.Y., are also gunning for Rubio.

Ultimately, however, all of the public lobbying can only have so much influence - and for all of the conversations taking place on cable news, as many if not more are almost certainly happening behind the scenes with the Romney campaign. Plus, there's always a certain amount of political calculus involved in how the VP decision is unveiled, and the publicity leading up to it.

"It's not uncommon for there to be a strategy behind pumping someone else up in terms of playing the expectation game and then making a bigger splash with the announcement of someone else," said Republican strategist Trey Hardin. "It could be that the Romney camp is sending folks out there to try to confuse or distract the Obama campaign."

Nevertheless, he argued, the peanut gallery plays an important role in the process.

"I think Romney has a very organized and structured and diligent system in place. They certainly are going through the proper traditional check-list," Hardin said. "But I think a component of that checklist is what other leaders or influencers in the Republican Party think."

Even so, by now, the short-list has likely been winnowed down to just a couple of people - and at the end of the day it will be Romney and his closest advisers making the call.

"When you get down to those last couple of candidates, I think that's when it's Romney sitting across the table from them and just having a feeling and an instinct," Hardin said.

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