A candidate's vice presidential pick can either propel him to the election or stop him short. Just look at 2008: When Sen. John McCain selected Sarah Palin to be his running mate, she almost immediately dominated the news cycle and was launched to superstardom from obscurity.

Now that Republican candidate Mitt Romney has secured the nomination and officially started his vice presidential search by tapping aide Beth Meyers to lead the project, the speculation has only intensified.

Will Romney go with a plain vanilla candidate in order to avoid the circus and distraction that occurred in 2008, or will he choose a rising star who will break boundaries?

The stakes are high for the former Massachusetts governor, who is nearly neck-and-neck with incumbent President Barack Obama in the polls. Here's a look at who might be on Romney's short list, one of Washington's favorite guessing games.