The White House and CIA are firmly denying a report that President Obama believes Mitt Romney wants CIA Director David Petraeus as his running mate. And one GOP source doubts Petraeus would even accept.
The Drudge Report raised eyebrows when it posted a piece Tuesday alleging President Obama "whispered" to a "top fundraiser" this week that Romney is courting the general-turned-spy. Drudge did not identify the source of the report, citing only an "insider."
Shortly after the report went live, White House press secretary Jay Carney tried to torpedo any rumors that Obama made the hushed comment to one of his key money men—or anyone else.
"I can say with absolute confidence [that] such an assertion has never been uttered by the president," Carney told reporters in the White House briefing room. "And again, be mindful of your sources."
CIA spokesman Preston Golston told U.S. News & World Report that "Director Petraeus feels very privileged to be able to continue to serve our country in his current position.
"As he has stated clearly numerous times before," Golston says, "he will not seek elected office."
Romney, the presumptive GOP nominee lacks any foreign policy and national security of his own, yet, he appears poised to buck the 50-year-old practice of picking a running mate who does.
Romney reportedly is primarily considering three vice-presidential picks: Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. Each one has deep economic and budget-cutting experience that could help Romney in a campaign that so far has focused on the sputtering economy and jobs.
Last month, Romney flirted with the notion of picking Condoleezza Rice—also via a Drudge Report leak—who was White House national security adviser and then secretary of state under George W. Bush.
Selecting Petraeus would allow Romney to avoid putting forth a ticket that would be the first since 1968 that would feature no in-depth foreign policy or national-security expertise. In that election, the Democratic Party nominated Hubert Humphrey and Edmund Muskie. Both were far more experienced on domestic issues. The duo lost to Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew.
Petraeus is wildly popular both in Washington and across the nation. He is credited with helping turn around the Iraq war, and with helping instal the strategy that has played a role in recent gains in Afghanistan. The Senate last year unanimously confirmed him for his current post by a 94-0 vote.
Picking the war hero could help the presumptive GOP nominee pick up undecided independent voters, which political experts say could decide the election.
While there is little doubt picking Petraeus would give Romney a much-needed bump in the polls, one Republican source doubts Petraeus would so blatantly betray his current commander in chief.
"It is something that I have heard in Republican circles for some time—mostly from people who see Gen. Petraeus as a reincarnation of Ike," says the GOP source, referring to Dwight D. Eisenhower, a war hero general who later became the 34th U.S. president.
"I would not be surprised to see Petraeus in a senior national security position in a Romney administration," says the Republican source. "I would be surprised if Petraeus was prepared to be this disloyal to the president though. I don't think there is much to it."
John T. Bennett covers national security and foreign policy for U.S. News & World Report. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter.