Timing May Be Key in Romney's VP Announcement

As Mitt Romney deliberates on his most important pre-convention political decision, the identity of whomever he selects as a running mate isn't the only choice he and the vetting team must make.

The timing of that vice-presidential unveiling can have a major impact on the race, as the experience of his 2008 predecessor demonstrated fully.

“We wanted to do it late because we knew that right after Obama’s convention, we could change the story right away,” said Mark Salter, a senior McCain adviser who was involved in the Palin rollout. “It achieved its first objective: All talk about the Denver convention ceased immediately.”

One factor beyond Romney’s control this time, however, is that the order of the conventions will be flipped. He is set to accept his party’s nomination in Tampa on Aug. 30, while Obama kicks off the home stretch of his re-election campaign in Charlotte on Sept. 6. As such, the Republican will not be able to use his VP pick to steal back the spotlight after what is expected to be another impactful Obama speech.

The Romney campaign is not saying a word about the timing of its announcement, but Republican sources say it is unlikely that the VP pick will be rolled out before August and that an introduction to the nation soon before the Tampa convention is the likeliest scenario.

The primary disadvantage to a relatively late start of the vice-presidential campaign is that it compresses the time frame in which a running mate can play the traditional roles of attack dog and fundraising boon.

But the potential rewards of prolonging the suspense and building up interest ahead of the convention may outweigh the drawbacks.

The presumptive nominee has already spent significant time on the trail campaigning alongside several vice-presidential prospects and will likely continue to do so in the coming months as he tests out personal and public dynamics with all of the serious contenders.

“A lot is going to come down to what they see in the vetting, and that vetting takes time,” said Republican strategist Ford O’Connell. “I think they’re benefiting greatly from this tryout situation that they’re doing. Particularly in these battleground states where some of these folks are from, it’s helping to improve Romney’s favorability when a respected native son speaks well of him.”

Read more from Scott Conroy at RealClearPolitics

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published this page in In The News 2012-05-22 12:05:00 -0400
Analysis & Political Strategy