, WASHINGTON, Jul 31 – Desperate to be the first to learn of White House hopeful Mitt Romney’s vice presidential pick? There’s an app for that.
Continuing their strategy of teasing out the Republican’s process for choosing his running mate, the Romney campaign on Tuesday rolled out a smartphone application they say will serve as the first official distribution channel for the news.
“The historic announcement is getting closer,” said Beth Myers, the Romney campaign senior adviser whom he tasked to head the secretive vice presidential search operation. Romney faces President Barack Obama in November’s election.
“With this new app, users can be the first to know the second member of America’s Comeback Team.”
The free app, called “Mitt’s VP,” is available on the iPhone and Android platforms.
Tradition dictates that the challenger unveils his running mate either in the immediate run-up to his party’s national convention, or during the event itself, as Republican nominee John McCain did in 2008.
This year’s Republican convention takes place August 27-30, but observers began chattering heatedly in recent weeks about how team Romney might make an early announcement in order to deflect the punishing criticism of his business record and his refusal to release more than two years of tax returns.
Myers fuelled the speculation last Friday, when she recommended 13 Republican politicians or former administration officials that people should follow on Twitter. Almost all of them are considered potential VP candidates.
The consensus among experts and national media is that Romney is focusing on two front-runners for the job: Minnesota’s former governor Tim Pawlenty and Senator Rob Portman of Ohio.
Pawlenty has a personable working-man connection with voters that Romney, a multimillionaire former businessman and investor, lacks, while Portman has extensive Washington experience and could help Romney win the crucial battleground state of Ohio.
Both are considered safe choices who wouldn’t rock the boat or stir controversy – something that Romney may be eager to avoid after McCain’s choice of Alaska’s then-governor Sarah Palin proved to be a debacle.
Other potential Romney picks include Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez.