(Photo: REUTERS/Mark Blinch)
Beth Myers may not be a household name to most Americans, but around the Romney kitchen table she is front and center. The reason: she is the person charged with finalizing the list of potential vice presidential nominees and insiders say the list is getting shorter by the day.
Political analysts and insiders close to the Romney campaign say some of the names penciled in toward the top of the list include former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.) and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.
Others names still being knocked around are Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.
However, Ann Romney, wife of the soon-to-be Republican nominee says her husband is also considering a female running mate.
"We've been looking at that, and I'd love that option as well," Ann Romney told CBS News during an interview at the couple's New Hampshire vacation home. "There's a lot of people that Mitt is considering right now."
Legal pads that contain the names of potential running mates change quite often during the months preceding the nominee's convention. For example, Barack Obama's short list in 2008 contained not only the name of Sen. Joe Biden (his ultimate choice), but also Gov. Tim Kaine of Virginia and former Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana.
Prior to former GOP presidential nominee John McCain picking former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin – to the surprise of even party insiders – his short list included Sen. Joe Lieberman (who had run alongside Al Gore in 2000), Pawlenty and Romney.
Interestingly, former White House Chief of Staff and Congressman Dick Cheney was tasked with helping pick then Gov. George W. Bush's running mate in 2000 before he ended up with the job himself.
While there are several key factors a presidential nominee may consider in picking a running mate, the first rule of thumb is simple: that they do the campaign no harm.
That being the case, Pawlenty may be a perfect fit given that he refused to personally attack Romney when given the chance during some of the early GOP presidential debates and overall, he is a likeable person. Yet campaign insiders express their concern that Pawlenty may be unable to deliver his home state of Minnesota and that would certainly not fare well in the general election.
Other issues that Myers and top Romney staffers will need to consider are a running mate's qualifications for the office, their ability to get along will the first family and also their ability to campaign effectively for the ticket when left on their own.
As to the issue of being qualified, Portman's experience running the Office of Management and Budget and being the nation's top trade representative, make him worthy of consideration. However, Jindal, Ryan and even Rubio – albeit popular young politicos – may not have the private sector experience that Romney is accustomed to working with.
On the issue of a female running mate, former Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice's name surfaces routinely in a number of polls but she has publicly said she is not interested in the position. But another name that pops up is that of New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who walked alongside the Romneys in the Wolfeboro's Independence Day parade on Wednesday.
Romney, who is known for his deliberate nature prior to making major decisions is remaining tight-lipped about a vice presidential nominee and refuses to say when he will reach a decision.
Asked about the timing, Romney said, "I can't tell you that. I have an idea in mind, but that's something that I'm keeping close with my team."