Every time the Mitt Romney Veepstakes Finals gets quasi-officially narrowed down to the couple "boring white guys" the Romney campaign has been reportedly looking at for months, the campaign quickly moves to make the list looks more expansive. According to Reuters' Steve Holland, who spoke to "many Republicans," the final list is Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, and Ohio Sen. Rob Portman. That report comes after Monday's New York Times report that Romney's "friends" said he'd already decided on either Portman or Pawlenty. That news which was followed by Romney aide Eric Fehrnstrom denying a decision had been made, which was followed by Fehrnstrom telling the Associated Press that "technically" the veep choice could be named this week.
We're starting to detect a pattern here. For months we've known that Romney would go for a safe pick -- no more Palins -- and months ago Politico reported that his running mate would be an "incredibly boring white guy." But every time the list gets whittled down to Boring Guys Only, the campaign makes some quick edits. Examples:
- Ann Romney suggested a woman was still in the running July 5, after NBC News reported June 19 that Palin had "poisoned the well" on a woman VP.
- Romney allies floated Condoleezza Rice as at the top of the list last week, after Portman admitted he'd met with Romney's top veep vetter two days earlier. (The timing of the Rice report probably also had something to do with the controversy of Romney's quit date at Bain Capital.)
- When ABC News reported in June that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio wasn't being vetted, Romney immediately insisted that Rubio was being "thoroughly vetted" after all. Why did Romney break his vow of silence on the veepstakes? Republican consultant Ana Navarro put it succinctly: "There is a lot more to gain from the perception that he’s being vetted than reports saying that he isn’t."
- And, again, there's this week's confusion. The Times report Monday that Romney was picking either Pawlenty or Portman was immediately followed by Tuesday's report that the list was really Pawlenty, Portman, and Jindal, the first Indian-American governor.