I’ve covered all of these since 1992. I won’t bore you with the story of the Capital Hotel operator in Little Rock who told a source I couldn’t be disturbed and didn’t put a late-night call through. Or my meta dispute with the late, great Bob Novak about what constituted “breaking” the Jack Kemp story in 1996.
But as the hysteria mounts, keep these fundamentals in mind:
- Romney’s advisers can manipulate the guessing game effortlessly, and they know it. Many political reporters trying to break the story will take any morsel and go with it.
- Boston will almost certainly engage in some feints in order to build up suspense and throw the media off the scent.
- Watch Drudge closely for both hints and feints.
- Unless you have been directly involved in one of these, you can’t believe the number of calls and emails that will go from journalists to Romney campaign officials from now until the pick is made public, with pleas such as “My career will be hurt if I don’t break this,” “My career will be made if I break this,” and “I don’t need to break it, but please be available to confirm the story right away for me if someone else breaks it,”and, “You owe me.”
- We’ve never had a veepstakes like this, with so much new media and social media. That gives Boston fresh opportunities, and also presents new challenges for keeping the pick a secret.
- Just because the Romney campaign announces some future scheduled events doesn’t mean they can’t cancel them.
- One big variable: does Boston want to keep the identity of the selectee a secret until the morning of the announcement? If so, they have to be clever about moving bodies around — unless the pick is not someone the media is currently tracking/watching.
- If Romney calls the runner-up short-listers to tell them they aren’t being picked, he will almost certainly not tell them who he is picking.
- Smart news organizations will track charter planes, the schedules and movements of the adult children of potential picks, hairdressers, and printers.
- Given modern technology, the length and depth of preparation, and the ethos of the Obama campaign, Romney’s pick will be hit harder and faster than any selection ever.
Congratulations in advance to whoever breaks the story — and then let’s all channel the same level of journalistic energy and intensity to getting all four candidates to talk about how they would address the Fiscal Cliff as we have to veepstakes.