(WASHINGTON) — Mitt Romney and his team in Boston aren’t the only ones feverishly vetting potential running mates.
In a non-descript Washington, D.C., office building within sight of the United States Capitol, a team of more than a dozen Democratic researchers have spent the last few months examining every nook and cranny of the records of several GOP vice presidential contenders.
The researchers work for the super PAC, American Bridge 21st Century, which is unveiling a new website on Friday called VeepMistakes.com. The site features more than 1,300 pages of opposition research and scores of video clips.
Political prognosticators can only speculate who is on Romney’s short-list, but now we know who the Democrats are preparing to target. The super PAC is shining their spotlight on three of the mostly likely contenders: former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
Their research files, which the group is making public for the first time, also offers a sneak peek at the attacks the Democrats are poised to use against whichever potential V.P. ultimately gets the nod from Romney.
The American Bridge file on Portman, who has been the subject of more speculation than just about anyone else, runs nearly 350 pages. It includes sections on the Ohio senator’s legal career, his stints in prior presidential administrations and a rundown of his public statements on a raft of issues — from education to gun control to gay and lesbian rights.
The image of Portman that emerges from the briefing book, which the super PAC has posted online in full, is of a Bush-loving, deficit-increasing, subsidy-hating lobbyist.
The Portman file, like the 492-page document for Pawlenty and the 555-page one for Rubio, includes an executive summary of “Top Hits” — the information that American Bridge considers most troublesome for each of the potential running mates. Among Portman’s “Top Hits,” the group details where the Ohio senator “diverges with Romney on key budget and tax issues.”
American Bridge decided to release the information before Romney picks his running mate in order to give fellow Democrats, as well as the press, a head-start on examining the major vulnerabilities of each of the contenders.
“In 2008 nobody was prepared for the disaster that was vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. And while even Mitt Romney couldn’t top that pick, the front runners he’s considering are all deeply flawed in their own right,” said Rodell Mollineau, president of American Bridge. “This year we are going to make sure that the public has as much information as possible, as early as possible, on the extreme and out of touch positions of the candidates Mitt Romney would put a heartbeat away from the presidency.”
In addition to the written material, the super PAC, which was formed primarily as a tracking and research organization, is making public large amounts of video footage of the three vice presidential hopefuls. American Bridge trackers have been following Pawlenty since May 2011, Rubio since this February and Portman since May.
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