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Two Flavors: Vanilla or Vanilla

Four years ago around this time,John McCain was taking a look at his prospects and didn’t like what he saw. As detailed in the book Game Change, he realized he needed, well, a game-changing pick for his vice president. And he had one in mind — someone with big-time experience on the national stage who could bring crucial independents his way. But when his surrogates floated the idea of a John McCain-Joe Lieberman ticket, the conservative Republican base threw a fit.

Still realizing he’d be sunk with a yawner of a veep, he went the other way and chose Sarah Palin, the then-unknown governor of Alaska. The activists in the party loved her; America, not so much.

Has the party learned anything? It doesn’t appear so, as Mitt Romney finds himself painted into the very same corner. Yes, Obama is less popular now, but national and swing state polls show Romney has work to do if he wants to move into the White House. He needs a game-changer, too. The obvious choice is Condoleeza Rice, who would bring a ton of excitement to the ticket — via her race, gender, international chops, and for having a personality. But Team Mitt doesn’t even need to float the idea: He already knows the answer. Rice is pro-choice, so she’s effectively banned by the GOP.

Instead, expect Romney to choose between two Midwestern white guys who won’t cause trouble, or outshine their prospective boss, or, really, cause much excitement at all: Tim Pawlenty, the former governor of Minnesota, and Rob Portman, the popular senator of the swing state of Ohio. Yawn.

Going For The Gold — in Mudslinging

On Friday, the London Olympics begin and run through Aug. 12. Mitt Romney and Barack Obama will have to share the stage with Michael Phelps, LeBron James and BMXer Connor Fields. (Wait, BMX is an Olympic sport?) That can be a good thing if you’re looking to change the subject from, say, all those tax returns you don’t want to share or all those jobs you haven’t cre ated. But if you’re trying to make an impression during one of the last stretches of the presidential election, you need to do something.

Don’t worry: While you watch American athletes compete for the gold, you can watch American politi cians compete for your animal brain. Yep, NBC’s Olympics coverage will be brought to you by Super PACs this year.

Romney’s Restore Our Future Super PAC will spend $7.2 million during the Olympics, according to NPR, while the Obama reelection campaign will spend $5.5 million.

Now will that be in British pounds or American dollars?

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