By Maeve Reston, Los Angeles Times –
LOS ANGELES — With the Olympics winding down and a swing-state bus tour planned for the weekend, the attention of the political world is intensely focused on Mitt Romney’s vice presidential choice. But the candidate made it more clear than ever Tuesday that he’s not planning to drop any hints.
Asked whether he’s any closer to a decision on a running mate, Romney briskly told Fox News’ Carl Cameron: “I am not going to give you anything, no clue. All I can tell you is that by the third night of the Republican Convention I will have made a decision and be ready to communicate it.”
For the Romney campaign there is very little downside to building suspense over the coming days. Many of the top potential candidates — former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie — are already out fundraising for the Romney campaign and helping spread the candidate’s message as surrogates.
And many American families are still on vacation, spending their free time at the beach and watching the Olympic Games. If Romney were to announce too early, his campaign could lose some of its momentum heading into the Republican National Convention, which begins Aug. 27. In a tease this week, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus announced some of the convention headliners, including South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, Arizona Sen. John McCain and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.
That set off speculation that Martinez and Haley were out of the running for vice president. But Romney brushed off that suggestion in his interview with Fox: “You don’t think that we would be so silly as to not provide, from time to time, the capacity to throw people off, do you?” he said. “The fact that someone is speaking at the convention doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t necessarily find their speaking slot changed from one time to another.”
The former Massachusetts governor said his biggest challenge, aside from the vice presidential pick, is making sure his message breaks “through all the clutter that comes from the Obama team.”
He said the Obama campaign is essentially “throwing chaff out of an aircraft to keep the rocket from coming.”
“It is throwing everything they can into the air to try and keep people from thinking about the president’s record on jobs and wages,” he said, adding that if he were to coin a term describing the criticism he’s been getting from President Barack Obama and his team, it would be “Obama-loney.”
One major distraction in recent days was an allegation by Nevada Sen. Harry Reid — who offered no evidence to support it — that Romney hadn’t paid taxes in 10 years. Romney, who has released only his 2010 tax returns and an estimate of his tax liability for 2011, has said the claim is a falsehood and told Reid to “put up or shut up.”
“I don’t really believe that he’s got any kind of a credible source,” Romney told Cameron on Tuesday. “I think Harry Reid has lost a lot of credibility on a lot of fronts.”