Yesterday, as Rick Santorum was bowing out of the race, the University of Virginia's celebrated political prognostication guru Larry Sabato sent out a tweet, announcing that we had reached a new stage in the 2012 election cycle.
Yes indeed! Now that Romney has all but sewn up the nomination, the political press can now turn its attention to Romney's policy positions choice for the person who will be "one heartbeat away from the presidency" and cutting ribbons at the dedication of historic monuments and shopping malls. It's "Veepstakes" time -- that time in the campaign where journalists fill the hole left in their hearts by the conclusion of the competitive primary season with a metric ton of panicky speculation about who might be the nominee's running mate. (It is also the time in the campaign season where we all use words like "Veepstakes," while somehow managing to avoid being embarrassed about it.)
In truth, Sabato may have missed the bell ringing on this stage of the race by about a week or so, because in some circles, the "Veepstakes" have already been in full swing. As Andrew Kaczynski reported, over at "Mitt Romney Central," an NCAA tournament-style bracket has been launched to allow Romney fans to weigh in on who they would like to see paired up with Mitt in the fall.
And at 32 names, it includes basically everyone: all of Romney's primary competitors, all of those guys that Bill Kristol would have preferred to see in the race instead of Romney, many of his key endorsers ... really, just about every single GOP figure who has generated a national headline in the past year. Condi Rice, David Petraeus, Sarah Palin ... Donald Trump. They are all on there.
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