— Romney advisers think boring isn’t bad — but too boring might be. Some Romney confidants think Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), a favorite of the Washington establishment, falls into this category. There is chatter he might make a better White House chief of staff — not a great sign for his chances as vice presidential nominee.
— Romney is also looking closely at personal chemistry. This is also a big reason why House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is getting a very serious look. Romney and Ryan continue to hit it off personally, a big plus for the rising Wisconsin star.
— Loyalty matters. The one Republican who meets all of these litmus tests, and more, is Pawlenty, who could run with Romney as a pair of Washington outsiders.
As a happy accident for Pawlenty, Republican officials have begun eyeing Minnesota as a state they would love to put in play as a “reach state” that Romney could pick up if he got on a roll. The Land of 10,000 Lakes probably remains hostile territory for Republicans: President Barack Obama won it by 10 points in 2008, and Sen. John Kerry won the state by 3 points in 2004. Republican outside groups, deciding how to spend the $1 billion they plan to pour into November’s election, say they were recently startled to see polling suggesting that the presidential race in Minnesota could be close to a tie.
At 51, Pawlenty is 14 years younger than Romney and five years younger than Portman. Pawlenty lacks Portman’s biggest drawback — his close connection to the administration of President George W. Bush.
So the more time has passed, the more Romney insiders have become convinced Pawlenty is a great fit with Mitt.
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