Mitt Romney's wife says keen to have woman VP

07-05-2012, 14h04

Republican Mitt Romney has been quietly narrowing down his options for a White House running mate, but in the midst of a closely watched vice presidential sweepstakes, his wife hinted she'd like a woman on the ticket.

Asked directly if her husband should nominate a woman as his VP choice, Ann Romney told CBS News in an interview that aired early Thursday: "We've been looking at that and I'd love that option as well. So you know, there's a lot of people that Mitt is considering right now."

She said she had a few choices "that I really like a lot," but would not be drawn on which people she might have in mind.

When the candidate, seated next to his wife during the interview, was asked for comment on the topic, Romney quipped: "What she said."

Romney is on the wrong side of the gender gap, with polls showing President Barack Obama leading by double digits among women. A female vice presidential pick could help Romney neutralize the incumbent's advantage among women voters.

And yet team Romney is well aware of what happened in 2008, when Republican nominee John McCain rolled the dice and picked Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his number two.

Palin, the first woman Republican vice presidential candidate, inspired core conservatives, but millions of Americans dismissed her as ill-prepared for the job. McCain's Democratic rival Obama ended up winning the presidency.

The Romney family is currently on a week-long vacation in the state of New Hampshire, the last major break for the campaign before the Republican convention in late August.

Ann Romney said she has been giving "a lot of thought" to her husband's potential White House partner, who must be "competent, capable and willing to serve this country."

"I think there's lots of good people out there that fill that bill right now," she said.

The Romneys participated in Wednesday's July Fourth parade in the small town of Wolfeboro, where they were joined at the event by US Senator Kelly Ayotte, a New Hampshire native and prospective pick.

Ayotte was also present last month at a New Hampshire farm when Romney kicked off a six-state bus tour, and her appearances -- along with those of others like Senator Marco Rubio of Florida -- could be seen as tryouts for the VP slot.

Another woman in the mix is New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, the nation's first Hispanic female governor. She has said she's "not interested" in being vice president.

Former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice has also been mentioned, although she too has said she would not take the job.

Disinterest -- feigned or genuine -- has been a longstanding tradition in the "veepstakes."

In June 2008, Joe Biden said he was "not interested in being vice president." By late August he was on the ticket.

It is widely assumed Romney will name his running mate before the Republican convention, but the question is when.

"I have an idea in mind but that's something I'm keeping close with my team," he said.

Romney and Obama are locked in a brutal battle for the White House, and Ann Romney took issue with the president's strategy against her husband.

"I feel like all he's doing is saying, 'let's kill this guy,'" she said of Obama's attacks.

Obama, who embarks Thursday on a bus tour in Ohio to woo voters, has painted former business man and investor Romney as an out-of-touch corporate raider.

Ann insisted that "Mitt's got the answers to turn this country around."

"He's the one that's got to bring back hope for this country," she added.