(WASHINGTON) — PORTMAN STARS AS DEBATE PREP STAND-IN: From playing Hillary Clinton in the 2000 Senate race to Barack Obama in 2008, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, has perfected the role of the debate prep stand-in, taking on Democratic opponent’s mannerisms, intonations and personality as he aids Republican candidates with their pre-debate preparation, Yahoo! News’ Chris Moody reported. “When Republicans need to get inside the brain of a Democrat, they call Rob Portman,” Moody wrote. “For nearly 20 years, Republicans have turned to Portman, now a senator from Ohio and widely rumored to be near the top of Mitt Romney’s list of preferred running mates, for help with debate preparation. The freshman senator has a natural talent for throwing himself into the role of the opposing candidate in mock debates. According to people who have seen Portman perform this feat, he nails it every time.”
PORTMAN’S ISRAEL TRIP WRAP-UP: ABC News’ Gregory Simmons has a look at the details of Portman’s trip to Israel last week, including a readout of his meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
A VP JEB BUSH ‘NOT IN THE CARDS’: Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush repeated his VP denials Friday, saying a spot on the GOP ticket in the fall is “not in the cards” for him, ABC News’ Jonathan Karl reports. “It’s not in the cards for me,” Bush told reporters Friday. “I don’t know how many times I have to repeat this. I have been repeating it for the last two years. I’ve been pretty consistent.” Asked by ABC News how he would respond if Romney called offering him the VP spot, Jeb Bush responded, “It’s not going to come.”
JEB BUSH DIFFERS FROM GOP ON NO-TAX PLEDGE: ABC News’ John Parkinson and Shushannah Walshe report that Bush faced some grilling on Capitol Hill Friday as he testified before the House Budgetary Committee, run by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and admitted he splits from the Republican Party when it comes to signing a popular no-tax pledge proposed by Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, an oath Bush refused to sign as governor of Florida. “I ran for office three times,” Bush said. “The pledge was presented to me three times. I never signed the pledge,” Bush said. “I cut taxes every year I was governor. I don’t believe you outsource your principles and convictions to people. I respect Grover’s political involvement. He has every right to do it, but I never signed any pledge.” Romney has signed the pledge.
PAWLENTY WOULD BE ‘HONORED’ TO SERVE AS RUNNING MATE: Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty said on a conference call Friday that he would “best serve” Romney in capacities other than VP but would be “honored” to serve if the call came, ABC News’ Matt Jaffe and Shushannah Walshe report. “I think I can best serve Mitt in other ways but, obviously, anybody would be honored to serve if asked,” Pawlenty told reporters on a conference call Friday morning. Three weeks ago, Pawlenty had urged reporters to remove his name from the list of VP contenders as he assured them he would not be chosen.
McDONNELL GIVES LITTLE CREDIT TO OBAMA FOR VA. ECONOMY: Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell went slightly off script Sunday when he admitted that President Obama deserves a little bit of credit for helping Virginia balance its budget and maintain a low unemployment rate. “Did it help us in the short run with health care and education spending to balance the budget? Sure. Does it help us in the long term to really cut the unemployment rate? I’d say no,” McDonnell said on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday. Asked by Candy Crowley whether President Obama deserves a little bit of credit, McDonnell replied, “Well, sure. I think there’s national policies that have had some impact.”
JINDAL, THE SLEEPER VP PICK? The Los Angeles Times makes the case for Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s receiving the VP nomination despite not receiving the attention afforded to other potential nominees like Gov. Chris Christie or Sen. Marco Rubio. The LA Times’ Paul West reports: “A specialist on the vice presidency recently made the point that the person who ultimately lands on the ticket’s second spot ‘is almost never apparent’ in late May of the election year. ‘Few would have predicted Mondale, Dole, Bush, Ferraro, Bentsen, Quayle, Gore, Kemp, Lieberman, Cheney, Biden or Palin at that time in the year each was chosen,’ wrote Joel K. Goldstein of St. Louis University… . “If Goldstein has got it right, though, the candidate ultimately selected is someone who is not getting a huge amount of national attention right now. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal fits that profile. He’s been mentioned, but he’s only getting a fraction of the attention that Rubio, Portman, Ryan and Christie are receiving. That may be about to change, however.”
RUBIO TO INDIANA: Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., will attend a fundraiser in Indiana on Monday with Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, along with addressing the Indiana GOP luncheon.
AXELROD CALLS RUBIO VP PICK AN ‘INSULT’ TO HISPANICS: David Axelrod, a top strategist to President Obama, said in an interview on Univision’s Al Punto that Romney’s potential selection of Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., as his running mate would insult the Hispanic community. “I think it would be an insult to the Hispanic community to choose Senator Rubio if they think that that is somehow, if Governor Romney thinks that’s sort of a get-out-of-jail-free card for all of the things and the positions that he’s taken,” Axelrod said Sunday.
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Jeremy Diamond and Stephen Collinson, CNN Newswire
Joshua Berlinger, CNN
Stephen Collinson, CNN
Tal Kopan, John Berman and Sunlen Serfaty, CNN Newswire