The political and news website Drudge Report sparked a media firestorm late Thursday night with a dispatch headlined "Romney Narrows VP Choices; Condi Emerges as Frontrunner" that revealed former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is firmly in the mix to be Mitt Romney's running mate now that "Romney himself has narrowed the field of candidates to a handful."
The Wall Street Journal's Patrick O'Connor and Sara Murray explained the significance of the Drudge Report breaking important Romney-related news: "The report caused outsize fanfare because Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades has a close working relationship with Matt Drudge, who launched the (Drudge Report) site in the 1990s and made his preference for the former Massachusetts governor clear during the Republican primary."
However, many political pundits question Drudge's credibility in this type of matter, as Josh Kraushaar noted for the National Journal: "The leak was immediately treated with a healthy dose of skepticism from the political class. Many went a stop further, mocking Drudge's track record in predicting the veepstakes (he hyped Frank Keating in 2000, Dick Gephardt in 2004 and Evan Bayh in 2008)."
Assessing Rice's vice presidential bona fides, CNN.com political editor Paul Steinhauser wrote, "(Rice) is an intriguing choice. And she was said to have impressed a crowd of top Romney officials and contributors at a major weekend retreat a few weeks ago in Park City, Utah. Her speech at that retreat was considered the breakout performance of the weekend. But before speculation runs rampant, a reality check. Romney has said that he will pick a running mate who opposes abortion. And Rice appears to favor abortion rights, telling CBS in 2008 that she was 'mildly pro-choice.'"
The Rice-as-running-mate speculation comes on the same day that an Obama-friendly super PAC, American Bridge 21st Century, launched the website VeepMistakes.com. ABC News reported that the new site "features more than 1,300 pages of opposition research and scores of video clips on three of the mostly likely (GOP vice presidential) 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."