Chris Christie
Jae C. Hong  /  AP
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., on Sept. 27.
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updated 9/30/2011 9:30:32 AM ET 2011-09-30T13:30:32

They're writing books. They're making speeches. They're fawning over the big dogs.

It's all part of the Campaign That Shall Not Be Known As a Campaign.

More than a year out from Election Day, all sorts of Republicans are making a point of keeping themselves in the national spotlight, stoking speculation that they're positioning themselves as potential running mates for the eventual GOP presidential nominee.

It's too early to know who's really interested and who's just savoring a little extra attention. But it's clear there is no shortage of ambitious Republicans.

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Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels has a new book out. Florida's Sen. Marco Rubio and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley also are writing books. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell raised eyebrows by speaking in politically important New Hampshire, Rubio and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie by popping up at the Reagan Presidential Library in California.

Few hints about '12 bid as Christie stumps for Jindal

And a number of Republicans are stepping forward to endorse one GOP presidential candidate or another: former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who dropped out of the presidential race in August, has been campaigning for Mitt Romney. Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval came out for Texas Gov. Rick Perry. So did Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Then there are less typical overtures: Haley invited GOP presidential contenders Michele Bachmann and Newt Gingrich over to the governor's mansion for sleepovers.

Joel Goldstein, a professor at St. Louis University School of Law and an expert on vice presidents, says prominent Republicans may have "multiple agendas" as they maneuver for the spotlight, extending well beyond the GOP ticket in 2012.

"If you're on the short list for vice president, it enhances your position in your state and maybe you end up in the Cabinet or in a position to run in 2016," Goldstein said. "It elevates your stature. If you're left out of the discussion, then people wonder what's wrong with you."

First Read: Christie keeps the door open

For the most part, Republicans have demurred when asked if they're interested in the vice presidential slot — it's considered unseemly to actively campaign for the job. But most leave themselves plenty of wiggle room.

"There's no answer to this question," Daniels said when the vice president's job came up while he was promoting his book. He said he'd have to consult his family, which earlier vetoed the idea of him running for president.

Meg Whitman, the businesswoman who lost a bid for California governor in November, last summer said that if Romney wins, "I'd be happy to do almost anything he wanted me to do."

Sen. John Thune of South Dakota this summer didn't rule out any options and said he wanted to put his skill set "to its highest and best use."

Who's not giving much thought yet to the veepstakes? The top-tier Republican presidential candidates; they're too busy trying to secure the nomination. (And hoping Christie sticks to his word and doesn't run for president himself.)

But it can be smart electoral politics to stroke local politicians as potential veep candidates, so the topic keeps coming up.

Romney has talked up McDonnell, Rubio and Christie as potential veep material. Bachmann's spoken highly of Rubio and South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint. A number of the GOP candidates have said their current rivals could be potential running mates.

Perry went so far as to suggest the ideal candidate would be a blend of Gingrich and businessman Herman Cain.

Cain, for his part, dismissed all the vice presidential speculation as a game.

Early veepstakes speculation always is something of a political parlor game. But the unofficial tryout period also can serve a useful purpose, says Democrat Dick Harpootlian, who's been watching Haley's activities from his perch as chairman of the state Democratic Party in South Carolina.

Harpootlian says the early months of the campaign can be a time for potential vice presidential candidates to demonstrate "their ability to walk, talk and chew gum at the same time." John McCain's surprise selection of little-known Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in 2008, he said, "left the Republican Party, at least the elders in it, astounded at how wrong things can go when you pick somebody out of obscurity."

GOP strategist Rich Galen said politicians like to be in the mix as potential vice presidential candidates, even if it's just to increase their stock for a future political campaign.

"You want to be mentioned," he said.

But not all attention is the right kind. Haley found herself owning up to a "poor choice of words" earlier this month after she called a female reporter a "little girl" when the woman wrote a story that detailed at least $127,000 in state spending on a European economic development trip.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: One-on-one with Mitchell Daniels

  1. Closed captioning of: One-on-one with Mitchell Daniels

    >>> our economy has to grow faster. we have to create more jobs, and we have to do it faster. and most of all, we've got to break the gridlock in washington that's been preventing us from taking the action we need to get this country moving.

    >> i'm a conservative businessman. i spent most of my life outside politics dealing with real problems.

    >> a look at what many thought would be the 2012 presidential matchup, obama versus romney. that is until rick perry crashed the party. and now the fight is on. but it's proceeding without a man who ruled out a 2012 run. a lot of republican heavyweights who wish indiana governor mitch daniels would reconsider. i'll confess, i'm not a republican. in my view, the class of the gop field and wom have raised the he of the debate in ways good for the country. joining me now, the republican governor of indiana , mitch daniels . welcome, governor.

    >> matt, nice to see you, but i can't see you.

    >> i was hoping, governor, after that kind of groveling flattery from msnbc, you might be moved to rethink, and if want to make news here, any chance you're still going to jump in?

    >> i appreciate the invitation but i think i better stick to my assignment and answer your current affairs questions.

    >> so tell me what you think of the gop field so far? are you a romney man? a perry man? are you involved at all yet?

    >> i'm not. i'm tending to the job i was hired to do by the people of indiana. i'm watching, of course, with great interest, and concern. because i do think we need a major, major change in direction in national policy . we have good people running, real good people, but i'm waiting to hear which of them really steps up candidly and specifically levels with americans about ed fix we're in and the things we can do to move out of it.

    >> well, let me ask you a question in that regard. we have a sound bite i want to play from the last gop debate where i think, as you know, there was a question about, would folks accept the candidate there on the diet, accept a budget deal that included $10 of spending cuts for a $1 tax increase. give a listen.

    >> ask a question to everyone here on the stage. say you had a deal. a real spending cuts deal. 10-1, as byron said. spending cuts to tax increases. you're already shaking your head. who on this stage would walk away from that deal? will you raise your hand if you feel so strongly about not raising taxes you'd walk away on a 10-1 deal?

    >> now, governor, what kind of courage is that from the republican field? you know, ronald reagan , the president you worked for raise taxes as deals with democrats. the idea that the entire field would say a 10-1 deal was a non-starter seems preposterous.

    >> i don't know if it's a matter of courage. reasons to be skeptical. it's a highly hypothetical question , matt. you know, the history of most such things is the tax cuts -- sorry, the tax increases are certain and immediate, the spending cuts imaginary and distant and usually never happen. so you have to make a huge assumption such a deal would actually be on offer. but, no. i think accepting the improbabiti improbabitity -- improbability, nothing should be ruled out that might change the arithmetic of a burden that will crush the american dream if we don't address t. a similar answer you gave when people would confront you of flirting with the idea of a run. the grover norquist pledge and i admired you, the only pledge you should take is the one the president takes on the steps of the capitol when they're being sworn in. why is it impossible for republican primary candidates to be honest about the math? you know we're going to double the number of seniors on social security and medicare. even if we do the stuff and beyond that paul ryan and others on the right are talking about on entitlements we have to see more revenue in an aging america, yet we've got a good field that's doomed by this kind of litmus test ?

    >> yeah. i don't think it is impossible. i think it is entirely practical to talk not just republicans but americans at large about the things we ought to do and i do hope at some stage people will be willing to be a little more frank. i can reverse the point and tell you the exact same reason that democrats who know better continue to insist the so-called entitlements programs go on as they are. those are the worst enemies, the social security and medicare. people who would leave them on autopilot until they implode, which is not far off. on the question of revenue, matt, we are going to need a lot more revenue and a lot less spending. some combination of those two to get out of this. the question, of course, is, how do you generate that revenue? and higher tax rates won't do it. they'll fall far short of generating what the static computer predicts they will. the way to get more revenue, a lot of us believe, a lot of people in your party believe, is a restructured tax system that features far fewer loopholes and exemptions, lower rates on work and investment and so forth, and, you know, those people who understandably say everyone ought to contribute to the solution of the debt problem, including the well off are looking in the wrong place when they look at higher rates. they ought to look at closing many of the so-called tax expenditures .

    >> now, with all respect, governor, and you know i'm a democrat who's also supportive of entitlements reforms as well as tax increases to do the fiscal mix we need. both sides are locked in to their ideology and litmus tests on either side. a lot of people think we need a third political force to shake things up. about 20 seconds left. do you think there's actually going to be an independent candidate that emerges to try and fill what at least the polls say is a real void in the kind of extreme center frustrated with what's offered on both sides when people feel they're getting a lot of flimflam?

    >> i'd be very, very surprised and i think it best chance frankly for our republic, is for the republican party to adopt a position that is full floated for growth. it's the only place the revenue can come from and also very candid about what needs to be done to trim down current spending, our future promises, and propose ways to generate revenue with that that aren't counterproductive, like choking off the economy in the process.

    >> governor mitch daniels , we have to leave it there. thanks for joining me, even if you didn't jump in.

    >> glad to be with you.

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