As the Republican National Convention highlights women on its convention speaking schedule, the speculation about who Romney will choose as his running mate has crept back onto the media screen.

According to Politico, The Republican National Committee has announced that Condoleezza Rice, Mike Huckabee, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez are among those expected to address the Republican convention – all but knocking them off of the vice presidential contenders list if usual rules are followed.

Observes Politico’s Arena question today, “That leaves several expected contenders in the mix, including former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio), House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (Wis.), Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

“While Christie is rumored to be the keynote speaker, nothing has been confirmed. Despite the buzz, he has said in the past that he is not vice presidential material.”

Whoever the veep choice might be, I’ll bet Romney would love for us to be speculating on his vice presidential pick instead of where his tax returns are and whether he paid taxes during the years he refuses to disclose.

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Wish I’d had more time to write about all the ways Citizens United is not about free speech. Maybe you can help me out here with your comments?

Politico Arena asks:

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) has introduced a constitutional amendment aimed at overturning the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision on campaign finance. The amendment would also overturn a Supreme Court decision that struck down an Arizona law that allowed public financing of a candidate if their opponent exceeded certain spending limits.

Is this a good idea? Or would it be the first constitutional amendment since the 18th, allowing for prohibition of alcohol, which would restrict freedoms and liberties rather than enhance them – in this case free speech?

My Response:

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Politico Arena Asks:

Billionaire Donald Trump will join Mitt Romney tonight at a fundraiser in Las Vegas. The appearance comes just five days after the real estate developer aimed to re-ignite the debate about President Obama’s birthplace.

Tonight’s appearance could pose some political risk to Romney, political experts predict. Obama released his long-form birth certificate last year, which showed his birthplace to be Honolulu, Hawaii.

Is it worth the money for Romney to associate himself with a birther? Will this help or hurt Romney’s campaign?

My Response:

Any right winger, however wacky or outrageous, who aligns with Romney will bring in some votes. And as to the money Trump might bring, Romney has already shown what he is. He’s just trying to get the best price.

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Analyzing gas prices isn’t usually my beat, but media messaging is. Is failure to talk about declining prices at the pump smart or self-defeating for Obama?

Politico Arena Asks:

Gas prices are expected to hit a two-year low this Memorial Day weekend, averaging around $3.66 a gallon, the Christian Science Monitor reports.

Some energy analysts believe prices could continue to drop through the summer months. The falling prices take away a key piece of the GOP’s platform against President Obama – however, the White House has been relatively quiet about the price drop and a recent AP-GfK poll showed the majority of Americans still disapprove of Obama’s handling of gas prices.

Will the dropping gas prices help Obama’s reelection chances – and should the White House work harder to highlight the decrease? Or will voters still be wary of Obama’s economic performance?

My Response:

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If the fastest way to self esteem is to stand up for what you believe, President Obama is standing tall this week–even though it has taken a long “evolution” to stand up for marriage equality. What do you think? Will it help or hurt his reelection prospects?

Politico Arena asks:

The newest issue of Newsweek Magazine has declared President Obama “The First Gay President.” The cover features a photo of Obama with a rainbow-colored halo around his head. The cover comes less than a week after Obama voiced his support for gay marriage.

Does this portrayal help or hurt Obama’s re-election chances?

My Response:

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Looks like we’d all better rally to help Wisconsin elect Tom Barrett.

Politico Arena asks:

Polling shows Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker with a narrow lead over Democratic challenger Tom Barrett ahead of the June 5 recall election. Walker infuriated Democrats and labor organizations weeks after taking office in 2011 by driving a measure through the Republican-led legislature to curb the collective bargaining powers of public-sector unions.

Walker holds a hefty financial advantage over Barrett, the Milwaukee mayor. Barrett already lost to Walker in November 2010, and came up short in the 2002 Democratic gubernatorial primary, when he was a congressman.

Did political foes of Scott Walker make a bad bet on the recall? And is Barrett a strong candidate or damaged goods?

My Response:

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Politico Arena Asks:

Education Secretary Arne Duncan says he supports gay marriage, following Vice President Joe Biden’s statement Sunday on “Meet the Press” that he is “comfortable” with it. President Barack Obama has not voiced support for gay marriage, instead backing civil unions, though he has maintained for over a year that his views are “evolving.”

Has the President’s hand been forced on the issue so he’ll have to declare his position one way or another? Or would backing gay marriage now make it look like he caved into Democratic pressure groups?

My Response:

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It’s way too soon to tell which way independent voters will swing. But net out the contributing factors and it’s clear the results depend on many volatile factors. That chaos gives advocacy groups tremendous opportunity to influence the outcome. What’s your prediction?

Politico Arena Asks:

A new POLITICO/George Washington University Battleground Poll finds a dead heat in the presidential race six months before the election. Mitt Romney edges out President Obama 48 percent to 47 percent among likely voters. And the president’s job approval rating stands at 48 percent, down five points from February and a number now equal to the amount of people who disapprove of Obama’s performance.

Six months out from the election, do these numbers suggest Romney can exploit the president’s perceived weaknesses? Or do the poll results offer reasons for optimism to the Obama campaign?

My Response:

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Regardless of which label one chooses for Richard Grenell’s departure from the Romney campaign ranks, the result is the same. And can anyone tell me why in the world a self-respecting gay person or a woman would ever support the Republican candidate in the first place?

Politico Arena Asks:

Mitt Romney’s foreign policy spokesman Richard Grenell announced he was resigning from the campaign this week. Grenell, (an occasional Arena contributor), was the first openly gay spokesman for the Romney campaign.

However, Grenell’s hiring became a source of tension for the campaign after conservatives expressed concern over Grenell’s sexual orientation as well as his endorsement of same sex marriage. Grenell’s voice was also absent during a week of key foreign policy news – the anniversary of Osama bin Ladin’s death.

Does Grenell’s exit reflect poorly on the Romney campaign? And does it indicate that openly gay individuals still have a hard time climbing the ladder in politics?

My Response:

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Right-wing legislative think tank ALEC seems to be whining that it’s getting smeared. Pity.

Politico Arena asks:

Common Cause has filed a complaint accusing the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) of violating its tax-exempt status by lobbying state legislators. Critics have seized on ALEC’s support of so-called “Stand Your Ground” laws, coordinating a campaign against the group in the wake of the shooting of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin.

Is this a valid complaint? Or a smear against a successful conservative advocacy group?

My Response:

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