Washington: Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney promises to name his vice presidential running mate before the party convention in late August, and the betting is the risk-averse candidate will pick the safest possible candidate -- certainly no one like Sarah Palin who was pulled from obscurity four years ago by John McCain.
With little expected to happen in the White House race between now and the convention, observers have turned to speculating about who Romney will choose, watching every move the various possible candidates make during the summer campaigning. It`s a bit like the Kremlinology the world engaged in back in the days of the Soviet Union.
Many political experts are predicting Romney will turn to Ohio Senator Rob Portman, Florida Senator Marco Rubio or Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, all prominent Republican figures, each a tantalising pick for different reasons.
There recently was buzz surrounding Condoleezza Rice, who served as former President George W Bush`s secretary of state. She has said, however, that she was happy in her return to academia.
While some believe that the vice presidential candidate will make no difference to voters when they cast ballots in November to choose between Romney and Obama, others believe the choice can fill in geographic or ideological gaps for Romney, suggesting the wealthy northeasterner might opt for a conservative southerner or someone from the Midwest.
But no one knows except Romney and his closest advisers. The candidate has only said he will make the announcement before the Republican national convention in late August.
Whoever is picked, Romney will most likely choose a candidate who will not produce an uproar among all-important middle of the road voters.
With both presidential candidates locked in one of the closest races in history and the nation gripped in a deep partisan divide, so-called swing voters, those in the middle of the political spectrum, will play an oversized role.
"While Romney still needs to pull things together with some of the most conservative Republicans, his choice can`t be attached to the most extreme right wing of the party or he will chance losing the moderates," said Robin Lauermann, a political scientist at Messiah College.