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And Christie Makes Four

4:12 PM, Aug 8, 2012 • By DANIEL HALPER
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NBC's political team reported this morning:

We can say with a high degree of confidence that Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential pick has largely come down to three men: former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan. And it’s more than possible that Romney has already made up his mind. All three VP finalists bring something different to the table. Pawlenty is the loyal outsider, who would enable a Romney-Pawlenty ticket to run as former governors vowing to take on Washington; Pawlenty also potentially would add some blue-collar appeal to the ticket. Portman would be the insider, someone who knows the ways of Washington and who could help govern starting on Day 1. And Ryan would be the crusader, who wants to substantially transform America’s entitlement programs and who would excite a good portion of the GOP’s conservative base. Indeed, Ryan has emerged a VERY REAL possibility, but he also brings the most risk. If Romney selects him, it’s more than conceivable that the dominant campaign discussion in the fall won’t be the economy -- but rather the deficit and Medicare. Of course, there was already a good chance the Ryan plan will get plenty attention regardless of Romney’s VP pick.

I’ve been authorized to report that THE WEEKLY STANDARD's political team has confirmed that Ryan, Portman, and Pawlenty are indeed finalists. But the crystal gazers here are convinced that a fourth name should be added to the list: Chris Christie.

One particular attraction of Christie to Team Romney, we’re told: Boston knows Romney isn't particularly good on the attack, and that he can look awkward defending himself (see his response to the Priorities USA ad virtually accusing him of murder, to say nothing of his spokeswoman's effort). If the Obama campaign (or its allies) is going the Harry Reid-Bill Burton route, the thinking goes, doesn't Romney need an attack dog—a big and bold attack dog—to deal with the opposition, and to free up Romney to deliver a positive message?

So in THE WEEKLY STANDARD’s VP bracket, we've got Ryan and Christie in one semifinal, and Portman and Pawlenty in the other. We're betting Romney will go bold.

But what they haven’t told me yet is whether it will be Ryan or Christie. 

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