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Associated Press
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, left, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal speak on behalf of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, during a stop at a hotel on Dussel Drive in Maumee, Ohio, Thursday, July 5, 2012.

Speculation over Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's vice presidential pick is swirling once more, with names like Condoleezza Rice, Tim Pawlenty and Bobby Jindal popping up in recent media reports.

"In Pawlenty, Romney Campaign May Find Down-to-Earth Appeal," a front-page story in Monday's New York Times, explored the benefits Pawlenty, former governor of Minnesota, could potentially offer Mitt Romney as a running mate.

Embedded within the story is this juicy nugget about Romney's choice of a running mate: "Mr. Romney has reached a decision, his friends believe, and he may disclose it as soon as this week."

CBS News' Stephanie Condon noted how Romney could benefit from making that announcement now: "The move could stir up some excitement for the Republican candidate and potentially provide a distraction from the scrutiny he's received recently over when he worked at Bain Capital and refusal to release more than two years worth of tax returns."

Drudge Report reawakened interest in Romney's choice of running mate Thursday with a report claiming that former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was on the list of preferred candidates.

However, a Newsmax report quoted an aide, who said Rice was still not interested — a repetition of a previously-stated position on the vice president slot.

At The Washington Post, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal got the VP nod Sunday with a story suggesting Jindal's stock is "on the rise."

"Jindal would be very, very well received among evangelicals ... What most evangelicals have been saying to the campaign is that it has to be somebody pro-life," Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention told the paper. "He also counterbalances the elitists claim (because) he is an up-from-the-ranks guy, and it helps to have someone on the ticket who is from Main Street, not Wall Street."

Jindal has tackled major problems in his state, including the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and has emerged as a vocal critic of the Obama administration's and an aggressive surrogate on behalf of the Romney campaign, reporter Nia-Malika Henderson said.

A Monday story at The Hill weighs in on Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., saying he would check many of the boxes Romney is looking for in his VP hunt, including being an experienced and respected legislator.

"Tall and telegenic — he ranked ninth in The Hill's 2005 Most Beautiful list — Thune has been seen as a rising star with unlimited political potential ever since that South Dakota victory over the-Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle in 2004," reporter Alexander Bolton wrote. If Romney needs an attack dog, Thune could "do the job effectively."

In a lengthy profile at The Weekly Standard, Stephen Hayes suggests that Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., — the "man with a plan" — might not be risk-averse Romney's pick, but choosing him would signal a focus on big issues in the presidential race.

"A lot of Democrats I talk to would be doing somersaults if Romney picked Ryan," Democratic strategist Joe Trippi said. "I think he is a dangerous pick. And I mean that in both ways. He would help us as Democrats make this more a contest about different visions, rather than just a referendum on Obama. But he is good and he is bold. If Mitt Romney actually campaigned on bold proposals to solve these big problems he'd be a much tougher candidate."

Choosing Ryan would energize the conservative base and unite the party, earning praise from people ranging from Rush Limbaugh to Brooks and everyone in between, Hayes wrote. It might also help Romney in Wisconsin.

In Bloomberg's "utterly unscientific and informal poll" at the National Governors Association annual meeting over the weekend, state governors suggested Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Pawlenty, Rice, Ryan, Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Jindal.

According to National Journal's latest Hotline Veepstakes Power Rankings, the buzz indicates that Pawlenty, Portman and Ryan are the three names on the short list, while the longer list includes Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Jindal, as well as "just about everyone else you've heard bandied about."

However, the article cautions, "if recent history is any guide, a surprise could be in the works."

USA Today's Catalina Camia reported that if Romney doesn't name a running mate this week, his travel schedule would delay the announcement at least another week. "Romney is headed to London for the July 27 opening ceremonies of the Olympics and then to Israel for meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu," Camia wrote. "So these are the last few days he's in the United States before heading overseas for a week or so."

Of course, it would not necessarily be unreasonable for Romney to simply stick with the status quo strategy — because as the New York Times noted, "No evidence has yet emerged that Mr. Romney exercised his powers at Bain after February 1999 or directed the funds investments after he left. ... And financial disclosures filed with theMassachusetts ethics commission show that he drew at least $100,000 in 2001from Bain Capital Inc. — effectively his own till — as a 'former executive' and from other Bain entities as a passive general partner."