WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Richard Burr introduced Mitt Romney to an enthusiastic crowd at a Charlotte, N.C., manufacturing plant last month, renewing speculation that Romney may pick Burr as his running mate.
But Burr now says he’s not being vetted. “Nor do I expect to be,” he said in an interview from his office.
Burr, a North Carolina Republican, may not be receiving the same fanfare as some other potential running mates are, such as Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.
But political analysts say Burr fits the profile of a no-nonsense veteran who understands Washington and won’t overshadow the Republican nominee who the Romney team reportedly is looking for.
“He makes sense,” said Andy Taylor, a political science professor at North Carolina State University.
“The case for Portman is that he’s from a swing state, and he’s sort of a solid, no-drama kind of pick,” Taylor said. “A sort of anti-Palin, that’s what Burr would be.”
Both parties are heavily targeting North Carolina. The National Journal called the state “an audition stage” for Romney’s suitors. Five people who’ve been mentioned as potential running mates – not counting Burr – have made trips to North Carolina on Romney’s behalf.
Having Burr on the ticket could help tip the scales in the Republicans’ favor. He’s a popular senator who’s been in Congress 18 years. In 2008, he was reportedly on the list as a potential running mate for John McCain before the Arizona senator picked then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
Burr hasn’t been coy about the possibility of being Romney’s running mate. He’s said for months that the former Massachusetts governor would be better off picking someone who can help him win a state that remains in play. Republicans will win North Carolina regardless of whether he’s on the ticket, Burr says.
The fact that Burr has said he’s not being vetted should put an end to the speculation. Ryan and Rubio have skirted similar questions, raising the likelihood that they’ve turned over paperwork to Romney’s team.
But don’t count Burr out yet, Taylor said. The Republican National Convention is still two months away. Burr’s experience and the party’s familiarity with him could have excused him from the first round of checks, Taylor said.
“It’s Romney’s call,” Taylor said. “Presumably, if Romney asked him, he’d say yes. He’s only saying he’s not being vetted. One, that doesn’t mean he’s not being considered, because he doesn’t know. It’s possible that he’s still being considered even if he’s not being vetted at this moment for a variety of reasons.”
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @francoordonez