Mitt Romney is taking a campaign break in California this Memorial Day weekend, but at his Boston headquarters, his search for a running mate proceeds unabated.
Trusted aide Beth Myers is in charge, and some prospective candidates have been effectively auditioning for the role by introducing Romney as he visits their state.
That gives Myers a chance to gauge their compatibility with the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, as well as the optics of a possible pairing.
One top adviser told the Globe the final selection will be someone who can reinforce the image of economic competence that Romney is trying to project and who has an evident compatibility that will help him (or her) command respect as Romney’s top deputy in the White House.
Everyone outside a small circle can only guess about when and where Romney will make his announcement, but there is critical analysis.
In 2004, Democrat John Kerry announced he was picking John Edwards 20 days before their nominating convention in Boston.
In 1988, Republican George H.W. Bush waited until he arrived in New Orleans for his convention to reveal he had picked Dan Quayle.
Last time around, John McCain declared he had picked Sarah Palin to join him on the Republican ticket the day after Barack Obama accepted the Democratic presidential nomination.
It not only lessened Obama’s convention bounce, but fueled the GOP’s convention the following week.
It also provides a cautionary tale for Romney, as McCain’s surprise pick was panned and his vetting process sharply criticized.
This time around, the Republicans are meeting the week before the Democrats, starting on Aug. 27.
If Romney waits until just before then to announce his pick, he will “shrink the solar glare” of media attention that consumed Quayle and Palin, said the Romney adviser, who requested anonymity to speak candidly about the secret process.
Bolstering the idea of delaying an announcement until five or six days before the convention is the fact that the Summer Olympics will effectively crowd out all other news from July 27 to Aug. 12.
Meanwhile, the concern about finding a compatible and qualified pick about the outsized influence his senior strategist, Stuart Stevens, may have on the selection.
The Washington-based adman counts among his past clients at least two potential running mates: New Jersey’s governor, Chris Christie, and Senator Rob Portman of Ohio.
Stevens presumably knows them, so it’s unlikely anything about them would prove an unwelcome surprise for Romney. And through Stevens, Romney has gotten to know the two better, promoting compatibility.
But one of those familiar with Stevens’s history discounts that chatter, recalling a conversation while another client, then-Republican nominee George W. Bush, considered his running mate in 2000.
As Stevens and a second adviser, Mark McKinnon, saddled up for a bike ride with Bush in Texas, Stevens asked the governor if he wanted his thoughts on the subject.
Stevens wanted to plug the governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Ridge, for whom he had worked.
Bush snapped back: “What the [heck] would I care what you think, Stevens?”
Shifting views of pollster
This past week, Elizabeth Warren’s campaign staff reveled in a Suffolk University poll showing her essentially tied in her Senate race with Scott Brown.
The big takeaway was that many voters appeared unfazed by questions about her claims of Native American heritage.
Even the Massachusetts Democratic Party got into the act, using Twitter to trumpet the results.
Before the poll was released, though, the party’s spokesman had a far different view of Suffolk and its pollster, David Paleologos.
“How much would you believe a pollster who solicits his Q’s from Twitter?” spokesman Kevin Franck wrote in a tweet. Paleologos had used the social media tool to ask if the public had any suggestions for poll questions.
Franck’s denigration of Paleologos’s methods — but the party’s subsequent embrace of the results — was noted in a tweet by Tim Buckley, spokesman for the Massachusetts Republican Party.
Asked about his shifting views of Suffolk and its pollster, Franck capitulated.
“Add this to the long and growing list of things I’m happy to have been wrong about,” Franck said in an e-mail to the Globe. “Mr. Paleologos has clearly latched on to a brilliant and cutting-edge strategy that I will strive to emulate.”