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That $45-million loan? Call it a gift

Mitt Romney -- increasingly visible on the campaign trail on behalf of the man who beat him out for the Republican presidential nomination -- is about to forgive the $45 million he loaned himself for the primary struggles.

The filing of papers with the Federal Election Commission to re-declare Romney’s loans as contributions is imminent, according to the Boston Globe.

That would clear the legal decks for the former Massachusetts governor to become a candidate again as, oh, say, vice president.

Romney, whose personal fortune is estimated north of $190 million, is marshaling his vast national donor network (which supplied $65 million to his unsuccessful campaign) for John McCain’s benefit.

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Although there appeared to be some personal friction between the two during the primary debates -- especially over campaign finance overhaul, which the Arizona senator has championed -- McCain more recently has been openly appreciative of Romney’s vigorous campaign grunt work.

“I’m appreciative every time I see Mitt on television on my behalf,” McCain said earlier this week.

“He does a better job for me than he did for himself, as a matter of fact.”

Whither the homeless?

Next month, more than 50,000 politicos, protesters, journalists and security types will invade Denver for the Democratic National Convention.

Good news for local businesses. Bad news for the city’s large homeless population, which long has claimed the Mile-High City’s downtown as its turf.

So while the delegates are reveling and the protesters are rabble-rousing, what will the nearly 4,000 homeless be doing?

Some will be kicking back in a local movie theater. Others will stroll around the Denver Zoo or Museum of Nature and Science. And others will play bingo.

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All the events will be free, funded by Denver Road Home, a branch of the mayor’s office combating homelessness using United Way money.

So is this a Democratic Party ploy to sanitize the streets during the quadrennial political pep rally and nomination of Barack Obama? To keep the vagrants out of sight while the cameras roll?

A spokeswoman for one advocacy group says no. “We’re not hiding the homeless,” said B.J. Iacino of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. “We’re housing them.”

The special measures are planned because advocates say they fear the convention might traumatize the homeless, many of whom are Vietnam veterans suffering from mental illness, according to Jamie Van Leeuwen, head of Denver’s Road Home.

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“Homeless veterans get very scared when there are lots of helicopters and lots of guns,” he said. “And there’s going to be a lot of that here.”

There will also be opportunities for the homeless to get involved in the convention activities. Several shelters plan on broadcasting parts of it live for curious patrons. And Iacino’s organization will be launching a voter registration drive.

Cub reporter queries McCain

Necks craned at a town hall meeting in Albuquerque when, in the middle of talking to voters, John McCain said he’d take a question from a reporter.

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“When do you plan to announce the selection of your running mate?” asked the scribe, Jacob Schroeder.

“As soon as we can,” McCain replied. Schroeder persisted: “What qualities are you looking for in a vice presidential running mate?”

“Someone exactly like you: vigorous, talented,” said McCain, in a shocking display of pandering to the press.

“That person has to share not only my principles and my values, but also my priorities. . . . Could I also remind you, and I am sure you know this because you study hard, the vice president of the United States has only two duties. One is to cast a tie vote in the Senate. The other duty is to inquire daily as to the health of the president, and I am sure that is a big job for whoever the vice president will be.”

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Schroeder seemed satisfied. He works for Scholastic Kids News, and his Web page says he is 8 years old.

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Times staff writers Stuart Silverstein and Kate Linthicum contributed.

Excerpted from The Times’ political blog at www.latimes.com/ topoftheticket.

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