(WASHINGTON) — PORTMAN: COUNTRY DOESN’T NEED ‘PIZZAZZ’ Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, was asked whether he lacks the “pizzazz” to be selected as a running mate, responding that voters aren’t basing their decisions on the excitability a candidate possesses. “I think what people are looking for right now is not the kind of pizzazz and pop that perhaps we thought we got in 2008. Certainly, President Obama offered that,” Portman said in a CNN interview. “What they want now is someone who can work closely with Congress and get things done. We have a paralysis in Washington that’s not serving our country. We have to address these issues.”
PORTMAN’S ISRAEL VISIT: Portman spent most of Thursday touring Jerusalem with a U.S. Embassy official before meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, ABC News’ Gregory Simmons reports. “This past year has been very turbulent for the Middle East, and my conversation with Prime Minister Netanyahu strengthened my belief that we need to remain vigilant in our support of our critical ally,” Portman said. The Ohio senator leaves Israel on Friday.
RUBIO WARNS OF FAILURES IN IRAN NUKE TALKS – In his latest foreign policy venture, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla, predicted Thursday that nuclear talks with Iran ultimately will fail and said he would sanction a military strike before tolerating a nuclear Iran, warning that the United States should begin to prepare the country for that situation. “This is nothing but a stall tactic and I wish I was wrong, to the depths of my heart I wish that I was wrong,” Rubio said during an appearance at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City. When asked about the veepstakes, Rubio skirted around the question. “How does Vice President Rubio sound to you?” Time managing editor Richard Stengel, who moderated the event, asked. “It doesn’t,” Rubio responded. “It has kind of a ring to it,” Stengel said. “No, and I appreciate you trying to work that in there,” Rubio said.
IS CHRISTIE A MATCH FOR ROMNEY? Real Clear Politics’ Scott Conroy takes a look at whether the “blunt but colorful” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie would play well as Romney’s running mate. “Christie possesses several of the attributes considered essential for a vice-presidential candidate: He’s accomplished, media-savvy, perceived as a strong leader, eager to play the attack dog role, and is adept at singing the praises of the man at the top of the ticket convincingly and without equivocation,” Conroy wrote. “His most glaring drawback as a potential running mate is perhaps his penchant for outshining everyone in the room.”
CHRISTIE RANKLED BY REJECTION OF GAY SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: State legislators delivered a second blow to Christie by rejecting his most recent Supreme Court nominee, who was the first openly gay justice in the state, the Wall Street Journal reported. Christie blamed Democrats for playing politics in making their decision. “Bruce Harris never had a chance because he was never given one,” Christie said. “It was a political assassination.”
RYAN: NYC SUGARY DRINKS BAN IS STEP TO ‘NANNY STATE’ Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., criticized NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s decision to ban large sugary drinks in the city, calling it an example of “nanny state” governing, The Hill reported. “Hey, look, I gave up [soda] pop for Lent three years ago,” Ryan said in a CNBC interview. “I haven’t had one since. But that’s up to you, do what you want with your life. We believe in economic freedom, we believe in individual freedom, and so we don’t want a nanny state. We don’t want a government micromanaging your life.”
VP CONTENDERS SQUARE OFF: Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will be in the hot seat Friday morning testifying before the House Budget Committee. And who will be among the congressmen questioning him? Fellow VP contender Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
HUCKABEE ON DOMA: Mike Huckabee made a fundraising appeal Thursday based on the First Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional, ABC News’ Elicia Dover reports. “Today the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. Of course it doesn’t help your case when the Obama administration has decided not to defend the law they are sworn to uphold. Remember DOMA was signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1996!” Huckabee said in a statement. “And on top of the DOMA ruling, President Obama’s administration last night announced that the President opposes House legislation to ban abortions due to the sex of the baby. These are just the two latest attacks on our values from this administration. Let’s be clear, Barack Obama is so far to the left on issues, he makes Jimmy Carter look like a conservative. We must vote Obama and all of the Democrat left-wing agenda pushers out of office and elect real conservatives this November.”
HALEY HELPS WALKER: S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley will campaign with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Friday in Sussex before Tuesday’s recall election in the state.
PAWLENTY’S N.C. WEEKEND: Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty will deliver the luncheon address at the North Carolina GOP’s Convention in Greensboro, N.C., Saturday afternoon. Other notable speakers include Donald Trump (Friday) and Texas Gov. Rick Perry (Saturday evening).
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Azadeh Ansari and Angela Dewan, CNN
Dylan Byers, CNN
Z. Byron Wolf, CNN