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Veepstakes Kick Off: 14 Capitol Hill Contenders

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It’s no secret Sen. Marco Rubio is the favorite choice for vice president among Republicans in Washington. He’s from an important battleground state and can attract Latino voters with his Cuban heritage.

Cons: He could be too much of an insider at a time when the establishment is less than popular, and he has a long voting record Democrats could scrutinize. He also has his eye on being Speaker.

Sen. Jim DeMint

South Carolina

Pros: The rock-ribbed fiscal and social conservative could boost a moderate nominee. DeMint has a national profile thanks to his Senate Conservatives Fund, and the tea party considers him a hero.

Cons: He’s not very popular with his own party in Washington, and several prominent Republicans still hold a grudge for his interference in the 2010 Senate primaries that cost the party a handful of seats.

Sen. Ron Johnson


Pros: He’s from a battleground state that Republicans promise to target in 2012, and he unseated longtime Sen. Russ Feingold (D) last fall. A businessman who ran as a Washington outsider, he could help an establishment Republican on the ticket.

Cons: He has nearly zero national name recognition and no political experience beyond his few months in the Senate.

Rep. Kevin McCarthy


Pros: A rising leader in the House GOP, this blue-state Republican could be attractive for a candidate trying to put the Golden State in play.

Cons: California is highly unlikely to flip to the Republicans in a presidential year, and running for vice president would require McCarthy to skip re-election and forsake his spot as Whip.

Rep. Kristi Noem

South Dakota

Pros: She represents the new face of the Republicans as part of the freshman wave of 2010. Already, Republicans chose her to deliver their weekly radio address and have elevated her as a Member with a bright future.

Cons: She just got to Washington and is not well-known. She also would not bring geographic diversity to Republicans seeking a balanced ticket.

Rep. Ron Paul


Pros: Paul has a fanatical, if not enormous, base of national support that proved surprisingly resilient in a 2008 race that was stacked against him. He perfected fundraising on the Internet.

Cons: Paul, 75, is not representative of the party’s future. His ideas would be painted as extreme in a national race.

Sen. Rob Portman


Pros: He has experience as a budget guy in the Bush administration, plus he comes from a battleground state each side considers a must-win. He’s been helping all 2012 candidates get acquainted with Ohio behind the scenes.

Cons: His strong résumé in budget and trade roles could make him too much of an insider in a national election. His ties to President George W. Bush could be a setback.

Sen. Marco Rubio


Pros: It’s no secret Rubio is the favorite VP choice among Republicans in Washington. He’s handsome, young, from an important battleground state and can attract Latino voters with his Cuban heritage. He has tea party support but has shrewdly avoided becoming a spokesman for their movement. He served as Speaker of the Florida House.

Cons: He just got to Washington. On the other hand, tell that to Barack Obama, who announced his presidential bid just two years into his first Senate term.

Rep. Paul Ryan

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