Last week, in the aftermath of Sen. John McCain's remarks that he might consider a pro-abortion vice presidential nominee for the bottom of his ticket, the Republican nominee's campaign polled identified conservative voters on their perceptions of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.
"There has been very weak support from conservatives for Romney for months now, but faced with the prospect of a pro-choice vice president, Romney's numbers improved," says an adviser to the campaign with ties to Romney. "Pawlenty's and Jindal's numbers didn't improve as much."
The problem for Romney: both Pawlenty's and Jindal's support among conservatives was far better than Romney's before the option of a pro-choice nominee came into play.
In fact, both Pawlenty and Jindal actually help a McCain ticket win states, whereas Romney's numbers continue to weaken the ticket nationally.
Jindal and Pawlenty, both of whom underwhelmed in TV appearances last week, remain on the top of the short list, while former Congressman and U.S. Trade Rep. and current OMB chief, Rob Portman, and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin remain darkhorse candidates, according to McCain campaign insiders.
By all accounts, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, while still on the short list, has lost momentum. And a new name has emerged: Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has asked her leadership team for input into how to tamp down the talk and trouble her party is having with both the energy issue and the Fairness Doctrine, both of which are energizing the conservative base leading into the fall election cycle.
"It isn't what she wanted -- or the Democrats in general wanted -- and now we have a couple of issues that we've allowed to take over the debate," says one House leadership aide. "We're doing polling and other research to figure what our options may be."
Conservative Republicans are keeping up the heat on the offshore and ANWAR oil-drilling issue, continuing to agitate for a vote in the House to allow for energy policies that would make the U.S. in the long-term less dependent on foreign oil. Likewise, House Democrat threats to once again revisit the Fairness Doctrine have sparked a whole new round of debates online and on the airwaves leading into the fall election cycle.
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