(RNN) - It's fantasy football for political watchers: Who is presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney going to choose for his vice presidential candidate?
Each week, a new name works its way to the top - Sen. Marco Rubio from Florida, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman. And after Mitt Romney's wife, Ann, said a woman might be considered, Condoleezza Rice's name was bandied about with fury, and some people made whispers about South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.
And, of course, they all deny wanting the job.
Who Romney will choose will have to bring the votes, the wisdom, and some Capitol Hill clout – especially since Romney is, in a way, a Beltway outsider because he never served in Congress.
Here are the top five choices – until someone else throws his or her name into the ring.
Raycom News Network has ranked the following according to projections of the likelihood of their selection for vice presidential nominee.
No. 5: Rep. Paul Ryan, Wisconsin
A good-looking, young, rising star in the Republican party, Ryan could help bridge the gap between older and younger voters.
Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee and senior member of the Ways and Means Committee, has been at the forefront of challenging President Barack Obama and the Democrats on budget issues as well as the Affordable Care Act.
Romney could use someone who is forceful and charismatic to go up against Biden during the debates.
The senator from Wisconsin has made himself available to the media in support of Romney. He recently appeared on CBS's Face the Nation to say that Obama cannot run on his record from the past four years and to defend Romney's decision to only release one year of tax returns.
Ryan also lauded Romney's ideas to reform the tax code, citing the need to reduce entitlement spending, including Social Security and Medicare.
His fiscal background in government would be a rallying cry to balance the budget and restructure the tax code during the campaign.
Although Ryan has the clout on the Hill to be a good running mate and comes from a swing state, he lacks foreign policy experience.
No. 4: Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida
Even though the junior senator from Florida has denied repeatedly that he wants to be vice president, he did accidentally substitute the words "vice president" for "senator" when he was discussing his ability to affect change in Washington at an appearance a few months ago.
Rubio, popular with conservatives for both his fiscal policy and social issues, was elected to the Senate in 2010, defeating incumbent Republican Charlie Grist with the help of tea party support.
However, he has broken ranks with his party's view on immigration, as well as some foreign policy. Rubio believes in coalitions and does not take an isolationist view of world politics. Rubio's alternative to the Dream Act did not completely sync with Romney's view of immigration. Rubio believes that young people who came to the U.S. illegally as children should be given a chance at citizenship through college or the military.
But Obama's recent executive order did just that, effectively taking the wind out of Rubio's sails.
Although having Rubio as a running mate would appeal to Hispanics, conservatives and help Romney carry a state with needed electoral votes, Rubio has only been on the national stage since 2010. However, he did serve in statewide office in the Florida House, representing the 111th district from 2000 through 2010, even serving as speaker of the house in 2007 and 2008.
No. 3: Gov. Bobby Jindal, Louisiana
Jindal has a great narrative for the Romney campaign. He is the son of immigrants, governor of a southern and conservative state – the first Indian-American to be governor in the U.S. – and has experience on the national level as well.
He served as a congressman from 2004 through 2007 and in as George W. Bush's cabinet as secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In 1996, Jindal was appointed secretary of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals at age 24 and turned the state's $400 million healthcare deficit into a surplus of more than $200 million.
Jindal as a running mate makes sense if Romney wants to challenge or repeal parts of Obama's Affordable Care Act. He is one of many Republican governors that have thus far refused to implement state mandates that are part of Obama's healthcare law.
And to top it all off, Jindal worked as a consultant to Fortune 500 companies. He's got the political experience, healthcare knowledge and business acumen to make a good Republican nominee.
However, his state doesn't carry much political clout with electoral votes, and he initially endorsed Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
No. 2: Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Minnesota
Pawlenty has been a supporter of Romney since he withdrew from the presidential race in late 2008.
The former Minnesota governor has been stumping for Romney in key battleground states like Ohio and Pennsylvania, getting down in the trenches and working in phone banks and calling voters and making appearances with Romney on his campaign bus.
His working-class upbringing would help Romney appeal to middle-class and blue-collar voters.
Politico described Pawlenty as "the hockey-playing son of a blue-collar worker" and someone with a "low-maintenance personal style."
Another plus for Pawlenty is that he is an evangelical Christian. His name on the ticket might allay fears of conservative Christians who have reservations about Romney's Mormon faith.
No. 1: Sen. Rob Portman, Ohio
Also an early endorser of Romney, Portman also has been a regular on the bus tour in the much-needed swing states.
Even though this is Portman's first term as a senator, he is another Republican who has experience on the national stage and in presidential administrations.
He served as U.S. trade representative during President George H.W. Bush's presidency and later as director of the Office of Management and Budget for George W. Bush.
Portman currently serves on the Senate Committee on the Budget – as well as four other committees.
Portman's experience dealing with fiscal policy could go either way in the fight to appeal to voters concerned with the economy.
He voted to raise the debt ceiling numerous times, both as a member of Congress and as director of the budget office for Bush, but he touted an unemployment rate at the end of his tenure under Bush that was nearly half its current level.
Another mark in the plus column is that Portman is from Ohio - a major swing state with the most coveted electoral votes - and he is extremely popular there. Many pundits believe that how Ohio votes, the country votes.
A mark against him is that no one really knows who he is. His name recognition is at 22 percent, according to a USA TODAY-Gallup poll. But then again, Sarah Palin was unknown to 71 percent of Americans in August 2008.
Copyright 2012 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.
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