Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's drawn-out search for a running mate has given the Democratic Party and surrogate groups a beneficial jump on preparing their attack on the eventual pick, with plans in play to slam the veep choice within minutes of the decision becoming public.
With Romney now expected to unveil his choice before the Republican National Convention opening August 27, Democratic officials said that they've used the gift of time to research the backgrounds and positions of the leading candidates and have come up with an initial attack that would work against any of the frontrunners.
"Whoever it is, we will hit them from the beginning and be on the ground to blow up his headlines," said a key strategist.
A key Republican source said that Romney could announce his decision by Saturday.
The Democratic Party and outside groups, notably Americans United for Change, are focused on Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. All five, said the strategists, can be portrayed as supporters of taxes for the rich, backers of former President Bush, and as advocates of Medicare and Social Security cuts.
In fact, one group, American Bridge 21st Century, has posted nearly 2,000 pages of "research reports" on all five, including digs at their personal autobiographies.
"No matter who he picks, it's a safe bet that that person will share Romney's pro-outsourcing, pro-offshore-tax-havens, pro-oil-subsidies, pro-privatization, anti-Medicare vision for America, and accordingly, we'll fire up the printers and produce our signature yellow-and-black signs with whatever pro-middle-class message makes the most sense for the pick and for the environment they set foot into," said Jeremy Funk of Americans United for Change.
His group is well-known for staging protests at GOP presidential events and using bus tours to draw attention to their cause.
The GOP, meanwhile, is trying to anticipate the attacks from the Democrats even as Romney keeps secret who he is leaning toward. But, said one GOP strategist, Romney is not expected to make a surprise pick, like the past shockers of Sarah Palin and Dan Quayle, and that all of those on the veep list have been vetted.