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Romney should pick veep soon, says GOP

Republican senators say it would be smart for Mitt Romney to announce his vice presidential selection soon, weeks before the party convention in Tampa, Fla. 

They say it would give Romney a week of favorable press coverage — and help him raise more money — when Democrats are organizing coordinated attacks against his campaign. 

It would provide certainty about the Republican ticket and give Romney’s advisers more time to fine-tune the campaign’s mechanics heading into Election Day. 

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“No. 1, it will provide a week or two of hopefully favorable attention to the Romney campaign instead of mixing it up with all of the other attention that goes on at the time of the convention,” said Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderMaternal deaths keep rising in US, raising scrutiny Supreme Court weighs future of online sales taxes Senators press administration on mental health parity MORE (R-Tenn.). “No. 2, it will give two or three weeks to work out any problems or issues that are unexpected, so it wouldn’t be a distraction from the convention.

“No. 3, perhaps most important, it would give Romney a very useful surrogate,” he added. “Someone who could go to fundraisers, someone who could make speeches, someone who could begin to call President Obama’s record into question.” 

Romney now has a variety of surrogates pushing his campaign message, including vice-presidential hopefuls Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioSenate confirms Trump’s pick to lead NASA The Hill's 12:30 Report Steps Congress can take to defend America against foreign influence operations MORE (R-Fla.) and Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanTax rules will be subject to more OMB review under new memo Ending sex trafficking tomorrow requires preventing child abuse today Doctors bristle at push for opioid prescription limits MORE (R-Ohio), but whoever becomes the running mate would command more attention. 

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see the governor make the choice in the next several days,” Alexander said. “He has no surrogate like this. This person will be his No. 1 surrogate. It will be a celebrity of great interest.” 

After Romney, the running mate would be the Republican most sought after for GOP dinners, fundraising events and media appearances. 

Reuters reported Tuesday that Romney and his advisers are considering announcing their vice-presidential pick weeks before the convention in late August. 

“I think it is probably smart,” said Sen. Johnny IsaksonJohn (Johnny) Hardy IsaksonOvernight Health Care: GOP pushes stiff work requirements for food stamps | Johnny Isakson opens up about family's tragic loss to opioids | Republicans refuse to back vulnerable Dem's opioids bill | Dems offer new public option plan The Hill's Morning Report: Haley clashes with White House Johnny Isakson opens up about family's tragic loss MORE (R-Ga.).

Four years ago, John McCainJohn Sidney McCainHeitkamp becomes first Dem to back Pompeo for secretary of State Senate committee sets Monday vote even as Pompeo appears to lack support Trump checkmates Democrats in sending Pompeo to North Korea MORE, the Republican presidential nominee, announced his choice of Sarah Palin on Aug. 29, three days before the Republican convention in St. Paul, Minn.

McCain initially leaned toward his friend, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), but switched to Palin soon before the convention, in part because of concern conservatives would balk at a former Democrat getting the nod.

Palin gave the 2008 convention a shot of energy, but integrating her into the campaign became a significant distraction for McCain’s senior advisers. 

McCain declined to give this year’s presumptive nominee any advice.

“It’s up to them; they have the sense of timing,” he said. 

In 2000, George W. Bush announced Dick Cheney as his running mate days before the GOP convention, which was held in Philadelphia from July 31 to Aug. 3. 

Alexander said if Romney makes his selection soon, “it will give the new pick and his or her team a few weeks to get their sea legs and to get integrated into the operation so when we get to the convention things are running smoothly.”

Sen. Mike JohannsMichael (Mike) Owen JohannsFarmers, tax incentives can ease the pain of a smaller farm bill Lobbying World To buy a Swiss company, ChemChina must pass through Washington MORE (R-Neb.) said, “One of the advantages is he kind of doubles the team, if you will, and that would be helpful.

“Get somebody else out on the campaign trail that has a major focus, somebody else who can cover fundraising,” Johanns added. “If he’s come to a conclusion as to who the person would be, it seems to make some sense to me to go forward with the decision.”

Sen. Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischChanging the rules won't fix congressional dysfunction Senate approves .3 trillion spending bill, sending to Trump Overnight Health Care: FDA takes first step to cut nicotine levels in cigarettes | Trump's health chief backs official at center of abortion fight | Trump opioid plan will reportedly include death penalty for some drug dealers MORE (R-Idaho) said, “It wouldn’t hurt to have another surrogate out there that was able to go on the attack.

“You guys in the media would put together a huge entourage to follow him, and whatever he or she says would be greatly followed,” he added. “In that regard, I would say picking it early has some real advantages.”

Vice President Biden has augmented the Obama campaign’s firepower in battleground states. 

Biden blasted Romney in a speech to the National Council of La Raza in Las Vegas on Tuesday. He criticized Romney for recently having a Swiss bank account and millions of dollars invested in the Cayman Islands. 

Romney has largely refrained from making similar personal attacks, worrying some conservatives who fret that he is running a soft campaign. 

But Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) said the role of attack dog should be left to others. 

“I think it’s important that Romney share a positive vision of where he wants to take our country,” he said. 

A running mate could match Biden’s attacks without diminishing Romney’s efforts to portray himself as a force for positive change. 

That may be less of a consideration if Romney taps Portman, a low-key lawmaker with a history of working with Democrats. He is more respected for his policy expertise than his knack for landing rhetorical blows. 

Portman spent several hours in Boston on Monday meeting with Romney’s campaign advisers. 

Some Republican senators worry announcing the vice presidential pick early could diminish the convention. 

“The only problem is you miss a lot of the drama of the convention if you do that,” Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeDems give muted praise to Pompeo-Kim meeting Overnight Energy: Former Pruitt aide alleges more wasteful spending, retaliation | Senate confirms EPA No. 2 | Zinke backs off big park fee increases Senate approves Trump’s pick for No. 2 at EPA MORE (R-Okla.) said about the prospect of unveiling the running mate early. “The people who go to a convention are the ones who want to be a part of that. So I think that probably would not be a good idea. It’s not a big deal, but I would probably recommend doing it the other way.”

Sen. Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsOvernight Defense: Lawmakers worry over Syria strategy | Trump's base critical of strikes | Flake undecided on Pompeo | Coast Guard plans to keep allowing transgender members | GOP chair wants to cut B from Pentagon agencies Pompeo faces difficult panel vote after grilling by Dems Pompeo confirms he was interviewed by Mueller MORE (R-Ind.) said suspense over the choice of running mate “keeps everybody juiced up for the convention.”

“Otherwise, it’s just parties,” he said. 

But other lawmakers think the Tampa convention, scheduled for Aug. 27-30, is a long time to wait.

“Remember, the conventions are really late this year, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see something sooner,” said Sen. John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenLobbying World Worried GOP views Trump trade war with angst Conservatives fear trade war could cripple tax cuts message MORE (R-N.D.), who is working on the party platform for the convention.