August in Your Nation's Capital slows to a crawl. The Congress is gone - which is good news for the Republic. In normal years the President and Vice President head for some shore somewhere.
Well, George W. didn't. He headed for Crawford, Texas, which meant the national press corps got to hang out in Waco for weeks at a time. Compare and contrast that with going to Martha's Vineyard for a Presidential vacation and you can see why political reporters tend to be Democrats.
Every four years Augusts are different. Between the Olympics and that pesky Presidential campaign, reporters aren't hanging around D.C. looking for anything to write about. They are on the road with the candidates looking for anything to write about.
The big guessing game around town is WWRP? Who Will Romney Pick to be his Vice Presidential Running mate. When the Republican Convention announced the prime time speakers list, reporters did the subtraction and decided that if someone were picked to give a speech he or she was off the "short list" for Veep.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez as well as Condoleezza Rice will have prime time roles. So will Ohio Governor John Kasich and Sen. John McCain.
As the AP reported: Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin are both big names in the party believed to be among those Romney is weighing for the vice presidential slot or for the keynote address.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio also were noticeably absent from the slate of announced speakers and may be contenders for running mate.
Of course, someone could be on the speaker list and still be chosen as the running mate. All that would require would be to replace that person as a prime-time speaker (not counting the acceptance speech).
In Charlotte, NC the Democrats will have San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro deliver the high-profile, prime-time keynote address on the convention's opening night, a first for an Hispanic. Mayor Castro will share the spotlight that night with First lady Michelle Obama.
The next night former President Bill Clinton and Elizabeth Warren, the party's Senate candidate in Massachusetts, will share prime time, with Vice President Joe Biden and Obama speaking in prime time on Thursday, Sept. 6, the convention's final night.
Meanwhile the campaign rolls on.
For the third straight month the national Republican fund raising operation - the Republican National Committee the Romney campaign - have outraised their opposite numbers in the Obama camp.
According to the Washington Post Romney raised $25 million more than Obama in July, $101 million to a paltry $75 million. The gap is slightly smaller for Romney who outraised Obama by $35 million in June.
That, remember is just the on-the-record money. In SuperPAC world the split is even more dramatic. Again, according to the WaPo: The two leading super PACs supporting Romney had $53 million in the bank at the end of June, compared with less than $3 million for the leading pro-Obama PAC, according to FEC reports.
Donna Brazile who is one of the leading cheerleaders for Obama said somewhat defensively, "There's just too much money on the other side for the Democrats to close the gap. We'll have enough to compete, but [the Republicans] will flood the airwaves with misleading advertising."
One of the reasons Romney's fundraising is so much stronger than Obama's may be the difference in enthusiasm among their supporters. According to Gallup (which has Obama leading Romney by a negligible one percentage point)
Democrats are significantly less likely now (39%) than they were in the summers of 2004 and 2008 to say they are "more enthusiastic about voting than usual." Republicans are more enthusiastic now (51%) than in 2008 and the same as in 2004.
Four years ago, Democrat enthusiasm stood at 61%, GOP voters at only 33% and we know what happened in November of that year.
Enthusiasm, fund raising, head-to-head polling. These are the kinds of things we talk about in August, but it is only August and no one is voting for President this month.
On the Secret Decoder Ring today: Links to the Convention speakers story, to the WaPo fund raising piece, and to the Gallup site about enthusiasm. Also a license plate Mullfoto and that GREAT photo of the full moon and the Olympic Rings on the London Bridge. As a special treat the Reuters' photographer describes how he got the shot.