They Got the Votes!

Six Republican senators joined with the Democrats to break a filibuster for a three-month extension of the unemployment benefits that expired on December 28.  The vote was 60-37 (Dem Mark Begich of Alaska couldn’t get there).

Thank you to these “good” Republicans — Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Dan Coats of Indiana, Dean Heller of Nevada, and Rob Portman of Ohio — for doing the right thing — at least procedurally — for both our long-term unemployed and our economy.

But now they move to the substantive vote — and they still have to find a way to pay for the thing, so it’s far from done.

Then, of course, it would take a miracle to get it through the House, where 207 of the GOP seats are considered safe, so no incentive to rock the boat there .

Mormon Taps Catholic for “Hail Mary” Pass

Nate Silver* on the desperation Mitt’s Ryan pick reflects:

“When a prudent candidate like Mitt Romney picks someone like Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin as his running mate, it suggests that he felt he held a losing position against President Obama.  The theme that Mr. Romney’s campaign has emphasized for months and months — that the president has failed as an economic leader — may have persuaded 47 or 48 or 49 percent of voters to back him, he seems to have concluded.  But not 50.1 percent, and not enough for Mr. Romney to secure 270 electoral votes.

“The forecast model I developed for FiveThirtyEight…estimated as of Friday that Mr. Obama was about a 70 percent favorite to win re-election.

“Conventional wisdom suggests that you play toward the center of the electorate, while various statistical measures of Mr. Ryan peg him as being quite conservative.  Based on his Congressional voting record, for instance, the statistical system DW-Nominate evaluates him as being roughly as conservative as Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota.

“[A] recent analysis I performed placed Mr. Ryan 10th among 14 potential vice-presidential picks in terms of his immediate impact on the Electoral College.  If Mr. Romney wanted to make the best pick by this criterion he would have been better off choosing an alternative like Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, or Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia.

“Mr. Ryan’s budget plan, which polls poorly, will obviously get much more attention.  The fate of the presidential race and the fate of the Congressional races may become more closely tied together.

“Taking risks like these is not what you do if you think you already have a winning hand.  But Mr. Romney, the turnaround artist, decided that he needed to turn around his own campaign.”

John McCain decided the same thing four years ago.  His bold move backfired, as will Mitt’s.

* “The Rationale Behind an Audacious Move,” NYT








The Portman in Mitt’s Storm?

From “Analysis:  Romney will pick Portman — and here’s why,” Paul West, L A Times:

“Rubio, a Cuban American, is the only person Romney has said that he was vetting (to quash a report that he wasn’t, which figured to make matters even worse with Latino voters). But picking him could prompt days or weeks of unhelpful media scrutiny into Rubio’s personal finances.  Besides, if Romney can’t win Florida on his own, he’s unlikely to do well enough in other swing states to get elected.

“Gov. Bobby Jindal comes from Louisiana, already safely in the Romney column.  It’s hard to see how either he or Pawlenty could do enough to help Romney carry any of the battleground states he’ll need to win in an election as close as this one.

“McDonnell, the popular governor of swing-state Virginia, got tangled up over an antiabortion measure in the state Legislature this year that would have required women to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound test. Dredging up the controversy would hurt Romney among women voters nationally and might well outweigh the benefits in Virginia.

“Ryan is unlikely to make enough of a difference in his home state of Wisconsin, where Obama is favored, and his role as the GOP’s budget architect would only inflame an issue — preserving Medicare —that is already a potential liability for Romney.

“Christie’s blunt-spoken independence makes the New Jersey governor a risky choice, thus violating one of the cardinal rules for an ideal running mate: In addition to having no skeletons in the closet, the perfect No. 2 has to give a solid convention speech, shine in the vice presidential debate — and otherwise stay discreetly in the background — while helping carry a key state in November.

“Portman, better than Romney’s other choices, meets the job description. He proved his debating skills by prepping both George W. Bush and Dick Cheney for fall TV debates in past campaigns.  He’s discreet, which should please Romney, who abhors leaks.  He has a reputation as a serious lawmaker able to work across party lines, with budget and trade expertise that meshes with the campaign’s central theme.  Perhaps most important, he’s also likely to add a point or two to Romney’s total in Ohio. Not a big number, but it could be enough to flip the ultimate swing state in 2012.   

“A surprise VP pick would be out of character for the cautious, conventional Romney, but if he’s got one up his sleeve, he’s likely to reveal it very soon. The last thing his campaign wants is a media scramble over his running mate that overshadows the carefully scripted national convention at the end of the month.

“A safe and boring pick, by contrast, might only be good for burst of publicity that would fade in a matter of days–which argues for waiting, perhaps until the week before the delegates gather in Tampa, Fla.

“That’s why each day that passes without an announcement from Romney makes it more likely that Ohio’s junior senator will get the call.”  Emphasis added.

And Then There Were Three

The Great Mentioners are convinced that the Veepstakes is down to Tim Pawlenty, Rob Portman, and Paul Ryan.  Ryan is considered the most bold — and potentially dangerous — of the three because of his plan to end Medicare and replace it with a voucher system.  I don’t see Mitt going with bold and dangerous.

Meanwhile, Wikipedia has locked the pages of potential veep choices with limited exceptions for those with certain accounts who’ve made changes before.

Marco! Rubio! Says Mitt Did Invite Him

I posted yesterday that Mittens is having a big retreat in Park City, Utah this weekend for his major donors and supporters.  I wrote that while a number of potential veeps would be there (Portman, Ryan, Pawlenty), Rubio had not been invited.

Today Rubio says he was invited, but he wants to spend the weekend with his kids.  People who want to spend weekends with their kids don’t go into politics.

Rubio Off Guest List

Mittens is having a very high-profile retreat this weekend for his biggest ($50,000 and up) donors and supporters in  Park City, Utah.  VP short-listers Tim Pawlenty, Rob Portman, Paul Ryan, and John Thune will all be there.  Marco Rubio?  His invitation seems to have gotten lost in the mail.

Who else will be there?  Bold-faced GOP names like Condi Rice, Bobby Jindal, Jeb Bush, John McCain, Karl Rove, Fred Barnes.   Lots of super rich Mittmen (and women) like Meg Whitman and Frank Langone.

Veepstakes Narrowing

Rumors abound that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is out of the running, amid concerns that he would overshadow Mitt.  That’s certainly true, both physically and personality-wise.

Those left on the short list seem to be Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.  Pawlenty is supposedly favored by Ann Romney, which I suspect is a huge plus.

How Veepstakes Look from the Beltway

The National Journal offers its latest rankings for Mitt’s VP choice:

# 1  Ohio Senator Rob Portman (up from #4)

# 2  Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (up from #7)

# 3  Florida Senator Marco Rubio (down from #2)

# 4  Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan (down from #1)

# 5  Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty (up from #8)

# 6 Wild Card (up from #10)

# 7  Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels (not ranked)

# 8  New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (down from #5)

# 9  Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell (down from #3)

#10  New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte (down from #6)

Nobody on this list would get me to vote for Mitt.  I think he’d have to kidnap my son and hold a gun to his head to get me to vote for him.