Mitt Romney’s campaign announced Tuesday that it has hired staff for the presumptive Republican nominee’s future running mate, further fueling speculation that the GOP hopeful will announce his pick soon.

Randy Bumps, the former political director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, will serve as the director of operations for the eventual vice presidential pick. And Kevin Sheridan, a former spokesman for the Republican National Committee, will serve as the running mate’s communications director.

***

If you talk to Democrats, they say they genuinely like Portman.

“I find him to be a serious legislator who’s focused on results,” says Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., who adds that Portman shows a willingness to listen to all sides.

“I think he’d be a great choice” for Romney’s running mate, says New Hampshire Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. She notes that Portman was a willing recruit when she recently asked him to co-sponsor a bill promoting greater energy efficiency. …

Portman could be a vice president who would be highly effective working with Congress, says Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.

“I would think he would have a lot to offer from his service as a congressman and as a senator and his administration experience,” says Cornyn.

***

“I am happy where I am, I’m fortunate to get to represent our state,” Portman said in an interview with an Ohio radio station this morning. “I was elected in 2010 because of my interest in trying to move our country forward and our state forward here in the U.S. Senate, so that’s where I intend to stay.”

***

Picking Jindal would allow Republicans a historic do-over; he would be the first Indian-American on either parties’ national ticket and, unlike Palin, is much more of a known commodity — and hence less of a risk. …

There’s also this x-factor: The Indian-American community can be a major source of campaign cash if they are activated to give. Picking Jindal as VP would ensure huge buy-in — figuratively and literally — from this community.

…Jindal isn’t oozing charisma like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie or Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. But neither is he labeled as a vanilla pol in the way that Portman and Pawlenty have been cast.

Jindal wouldn’t likely overshadow Romney — as Christie and Rubio clearly would — but neither would he be lumped in with the “boring white guy” pick that might not get Romney the sort of bump he is looking for.

***

The case for the two-term Louisiana governor is straightforward. Jindal is a deeply accomplished guy: a Rhodes scholar and former McKinsey consultant, he nabbed a Louisiana cabinet post at 25, served a stint in George W. Bush’s Administration, and was a member of the House before entering the statehouse in Baton Rouge. He has fiscal cred with the party’s anti-tax faction and a record of business-friendly policies. A Roman Catholic who opposes abortion, gay marriage and restrictions on gun rights, he has trenchant support among social conservatives, particularly Evangelicals. …

Plenty, actually. From a political standpoint, the pick doesn’t make much sense. Louisiana is a lock to go in Romney’s column. If you’re not tapping a No. 2 who can help you pick up a swing state, you want him or her to provide an entree into a demographic group. The selection of Jindal, an Indian-American, would avoid the questionable optics of an all-white-guy ticket in a rapidly changing nation; to some it might signal an effort on the part of the GOP to expand its demographics. But Jindal is a staunch conservative with little obvious appeal to swing voters. He would excite the party’s base, but sheer antipathy toward Obama has that box checked already.

***

“Mitt Romney has released tax records for 2010 and 2011, and that’s the standard for Republican nominees two years worth, and look, we shouldn’t be debating tax returns from 10 or 15 years ago or college transcripts from 20 or more years ago,” Pawlenty said, referring to calls by some Republicans for President Obama to release his college transcripts. “We should be debating the main issue in this race, which is jobs and the middle class.”

***

“We have a lot of people who are entertaining, who can light their hair on fire or, you know, do whatever,” Pawlenty said. “But the bottom line is, these are serious times, we need seasoned, experienced people who get the job done.

“I’m not as flashy as some, but compared to some others, I think I’m right in there,” he added. “Nonetheless, I’m not defending it one way or the other. I’m just saying people — rhetoric and teleprompter and jokes, and you know, that kind of stuff, doesn’t put gas in our cars, it doesn’t pay our mortgages, it doesn’t pay our health insurance premiums. People are hurting.”