"Veep Mistakes" is a project launched today by the liberal super PAC American Bridge 21st Century has released its extensive dossiers on three of the most buzzed-about politicos who could serve as possible running-mates to presumptive Republican nominee Gov. Mitt Romney (R-Ma). The book-sized documents about Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN), Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Florida's Sen. Marco Rubio (R) are available as .pdf documents via the domain VeepMistakes.com. American Bridge specializes in "opposition research," the art and science of gathering dirt on one's political opponents.
The documents on each candidate come with an extensive library of video clips and meticulously detail each man's failings and public embarrassments, then pinpoint their key weaknesses. Each features a "Top Hits" summary at the beginning of each book, and all three contain reams of research of each man's positions, all designed to serve as a blueprint for taking them down in the fall.
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty is portrayed in his dossier as a fiscally incompetent bureaucrat with a penchant for accepting ethically dodgy campaign donations. The former Minnesota governor inherited what he called "the Incredible Hulk" of budget deficits, $4.5 billion, but left office with the state's economy in tatters and even further in debt, at $6.2 billion, a number he tried to fudge by offsetting the debts to the next budget cycle and calling the resulting splash of revenue a surplus. While in office, he pledged never to raise taxes, but instead he raised fees across the board "on a long list of items, including cigarettes, parking tickets, marriage licenses, building permits, court cases, college tuition and hundreds of other higher fees."
Pawlenty was cited on multiple occasions for receiving donations that broke campaign finance rules. The Campaign Finance Board initially charged the governor with a $1 million fine, but it was ultimately reduced.
Ohio Senator Rob Portman, on the other hand, comes across as the quintessential Bush family courtier. Calling him a "key Bush family advisor, confidante, supporter and appointee," the Portman book traces his involvement with President George H. W. Bush's unsuccessful 1980 campaign for president up and follows him through his role ushering Pres. George W. Bush into the White House, his years as the second President Bush's "point man in Congress" and his roles as trade representative and Budget Director to the Bush administration.
The national deficit skyrocketed when Portman was director of the Office of Management and Budget, the trade deficit with China leapt 62 percent and Portman proved to be hopeless at predicting financial and economic trends, saying a year before the economic crash of 2008 that the sub-prime mortgage crisis would have no "real world" impact on the economy.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is many people's favorite option for a Romney VP. The handsome freshman Senator is young and charismatic and could go a long way toward thawing relations between the immigrant-phobic Republican Party and the U.S. Latino community. Rubio may come with a full head of hair, but according to his book from American Bridge, he also comes with a full set of electoral liabilities.
The report accuses him of "profiting from public service," using his influence on the state and local level over the years to build his personal wealth. By securing no-bid contracts for companies he was affiliated with, funneling money to companies he later consulted for, worked with or hired to work on his campaigns. As a public figure he has spent lavishly, notably running afoul of the state Republican Party by mixing personal and public spending on an RNC credit card, as well as spending lavishly during campaigns with bookkeeping that American Bridge called "sloppy, at best."
Rubio has also run into trouble in the past for fudging certain key details of his parents' story, portraying them as freedom fighters and who fled Cuba in 1959 to escape the nascent Castro regime. The truth turns out to be less politically expedient and more mundane. In fact, Rubio's parents left Cuba years before in 1956 during the far-right Batista regime.
According to the "Veep Mistakes" website, "Four years after Sarah Palin, Republicans are once again poised to put forward a deeply flawed candidate as their vice presidential nominee." It is an interesting tactic that American Bridge has employed, listing as they have the full panoply of obstacles facing each candidate and outlining precisely how they would attack each man and exploit his mistakes and ethical lapses. Perhaps this is the reason that the Drudge Report has today been loudly trumpeting the possibility of a Vice Presidential slot for former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
You can read the full documents on Pawlenty, Portman and Rubio by going here.