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Mitt Romney’s early VP shortlist is a campaign tactic, not presumption

Though the primaries remain a dot on the political horizon, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has wasted no time name-dropping a veep shortlist, according to several news sites citing the Bearing Drift, a conservative news site based in Virginia.

Image has not been found. URL: http://media.iowaindependent.com/2010/10/chris-christie3-300x450.jpgChris Christie

On the shortlist are Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla) and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who disavowed intentions to run for President in 2012, despite efforts by top Iowa GOP donors this spring to woo him into running. The Bearing Drift said the shortlist was mentioned during a Romney fundraiser in Virginia.

Christie’s press office declined comment Wednesday.

How serious the list actually is, though, depends on who you ask. And while Romney is considered a frontrunner in many polls and is a national favorite among Republicans, candidates still have to get through the August Ames Straw Poll and February Iowa Caucuses — two events which can easily elevate or lower political viability.

The speculative shortlist this early in the election game may be more tactic from a low-laying candidate then a declaration, some Iowa analysts are saying.

“Yes, it’s pretty early” for veep considerations, University of Iowa political science professor Dr. Tim Hagle said. But in a wide field of candidates — any of whom could still grab a huge lead with Republican voters — “you want to look like the guy who has the job. This may not be so much that Romney thinks he already has the nomination, but he’s running like an incumbent, not a candidate.”

Image has not been found. URL: http://media.iowaindependent.com/marco_rubio_official.jpgMarco Rubio

Another advantage of bringing up a shortlist early in the campaign season is creating an opportunity to appeal to the broad spectrum of the Republican party, from moderates to more social and religious conservatives.

“All of (the names) were identified as having tea party support, and this is a group that has been largely skeptical of Romney,” Dr. Dennis Goldford, a political science professor at Des Moines’s Drake University said.

Goldford agreed it was early to announce a shortlist, even if it is speculative in nature.

“It’s counting chickens before they hatch, no question there,” he said. “[Romney] cannot possibly think he has the nomination already; I would say it’s a tactic to suggest to voters should he get the nomination, there would be a tea party voice to represent them. It may show that he’s open tea party ideas.”

Though four years ago Romney emerged the victor of the straw poll, he has opted to pass on it this round, and indeed has been limiting face time Iowa compared to New Hampshire, another early state carrying weight in the political arena.

In comparison, first-term Christie, who Romney suggested he’d like to see for a potential running mate, has become a rather familiar around the Hawkeye State. Most recently, he was in Des Moines Monday for Gov. Terry Branstad‘s Iowa Education Summit as a speaker; he also stumped for Branstad last fall as Branstad sought a successful fifth term in the Governor’s office.

Christie is also considered by some to be a rising star in the party, a connection that may not hurt to make, both Hagle and Goldford pointed out.

“It could be a case of just throwing out names and giving praise to the up and comers,” Hagle said of the shortlist.

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