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Inside the Beltway: Veep madness

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Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio will be Mitt Romney’s running mate, some taking bets believe. (Associated Press)

Wide-eyed and salivating, hundreds of journalists dream of being the chosen one who breaks the news of Mitt Romney’s choice for a running mate, even before word goes out on his campaign’s fancy new “Who will be Mitt’s VP?” phone app. The choice of vice-presidential candidate is worthy of political theater, prompting would-be prognosticators to scan for clues and innuendo everywhere — monitoring Web sites, poring over press releases, parsing polls.

Then there’s Paddy Power, the online Irish betting concern that delights in offering odds on American politics, including vice presidential picks. There are 40 to choose from on its lengthy list. Yes, folks like Sarah Palin, Donald Trump and Newt Gingrich are there for novelty, along with retired Gen. David H. Petraeus, now CIA director, who is currently creating much buzz on the Drudge Report and elsewhere as the sure choice of the moment.

Interesting to note that Paddy Power is taking bets all the way up to Aug. 22, just five days before the Republican National Convention begins.

But now, on to the nitty-gritty. Here are the leading odds the group is offering, at least for now: Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio (6-to-4), former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (7-4), former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (9-2), Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida (7-1), and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin (8-1 each). In last place, all at 150-1: Sen. John McCain of Arizona, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and businessman Herman Cain. Mr. Petraeus, incidentally, weighs in at 100-1.

HEAP O’ VEEPS

Veep beauty is in the eye of the beholder: Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, despite not being Paddy Power’s favorite, leads a National Review poll of the preferred “VP pick” of some 14,000 readers with a promising 42 percent of the vote, followed by Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin (29 percent) and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (12 percent). Next up: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (7 percent), Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio (5 percent) and former Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia with 3 percent each.

BLOOMBERG MOMENT

In recent days, New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has challenged both President Obama and Mitt Romney to speak their minds about gun control.

But the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms notes that Mr. Bloomberg has turned down a chance to speak out himself at the 650,000-member group’s annual convention in Florida next month.

“What does it say about someone who demands that others shill for his agenda, but when given the chance to take his fight to the gun rights community, he retreats?” asks Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Olympia, Wash., group. “Mayor Bloomberg is always quick with his tongue in front of a friendly media audience, or in the confines of a broadcast studio, but when he has an opportunity to meet with people who have differing viewpoints about a fundamental civil right, he takes a powder.”

HISTORIC MUDSLINGING

“William Taft is a fathead with the brains of a guinea pig.”

- Then progressive “Bull Moose” presidential candidate Theodore Roosevelt about the 27th president, on Oct. 14, 1912.

RUMBLE OVER REID

It caught their attention, that’s for sure. Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen’s most recent dispatch, titled “Harry Reid’s Gutter Politics,” has drawn more than 3,000 reader comments and much bombast.

“In ‘The Godfather Part II,’ a senator from Nevada is portrayed as corrupt. His name is Pat Geary. In real life, a senator from Nevada is a jerk. His name is Harry Reid,” Mr. Cohen wrote on Tuesday, elaborating on the Senate majority leader’s insinuation that Mitt Romney did not pay income taxes for a decade.

“For Reid, this is yet another brazen and tasteless partisan attack. As majority leader, he has managed to sink the public image of the Senate even lower than it would otherwise be. He contributes to bad feelings, gridlock and the sense — nay, the reality — that everything is done for political advantage. Reid is a crass man, the very personification of the gaudy and kitschy Las Vegas Strip,” the author says, ultimately concluding that yes, such incivility tarnishes the image of President Obama.

Reader reactions range from puzzled accusations like “You would write this?” to murmurs that “Reid knows something.” Yeah, well. It’s all bodacious buzz.

“Richard Cohen has slipped off the liberal reservation again,” observes Powerline.com analyst Steven Hayward.

ALONG THE CROSS ROAD

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About the Author

Jennifer Harper

To read Jennifer Harper’s Inside the Beltway columns, click here. Contact her at jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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