Thrilling political news: Romney might have decided to decide to pick Pawlenty, soon or eventually

Rumor-driven running-mate speculation: The dumbest form of campaign coverage

Published July 16, 2012 8:06PM (EDT)

Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney     (AP/Craig Lassig)
Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney (AP/Craig Lassig)

Remember how last week the next vice president was going to be former Secretary of State and famous Iraq War pusher Condoleezza Rice? This was because Matt Drudge, a Miami oddball who runs an unattractive news aggregator, put a big picture of her on his website, along with some text about how she gave a speech so good that Mitt Romney decided to make her his running mate. This was also something that Bill Kristol had just predicted, so basically everyone knew it wasn't ever going to happen.

Now the running mate is supposedly going to be former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (again!), I guess, again according to freak weather enthusiast Matt Drudge, who linked to a New York Times story that said Romney made his decision and basically strongly suggested that it's Pawlenty.

But the Romney people are denying that the decision has been made! I sorta thought Romney would delay the pick until closer to the convention, but it appears that they're going to cash in their "week of positive press coverage" chip now, when the Bain and outsourcing and tax return stuff is still heating up. (And early July is when Kerry picked Edwards, so it's not unusually early or anything.)

That all depends on whether Romney's actually going to announce a pick soon. The campaign denies that he's made up his mind, of course. At least the Pawlenty speculation is within the realm of possibility, unlike the selection of a pro-choice Bush foreign policy vet who has never once expressed even the slightest desire to run for elected office. That doesn't change the fact that all running-mate speculation is essentially an attempt to manipulate the press into talking about something that doesn't damage the Romney campaign, for a few days (or hours?). It's about as stupid as campaign coverage gets -- the only thing dumber and more useless is "the campaign gave us a preview of the attack lines they'll use against their opponent!" -- and it would be appropriate only if this all ended with Romney picking someone as utterly inconsequential and uninspiring as career politician Tim "I have played hockey" Pawlenty.

If Romney doesn't pick Pawlenty this week, news organizations should probably strongly consider their decision to grant anonymity to all those insiders familiar with the running-mate selection process, right?

By Alex Pareene

Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at and follow him on Twitter @pareene

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2012 Elections Mitt Romney Tim Pawlenty