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« Good News For NY GOP | Blog Home Page | Obama's Tattoo »

Crist, Pawlenty Stay Popular

As John McCain lets a number of rising Republican stars take their turns in the vice presidential speculation spotlight, two front-runners are getting more involved in other states, a sure sign the media will descend upon them next as speculation runs rampant.

Florida Governor Charlie Crist will host two invitation-only events in Tampa and Fort Lauderdale in early June, inviting national Republicans to discuss ways to vault the wounded GOP back to the top of the pile, the Associated Press reports. Crist's top adviser and former chief of staff, George LeMieux, will be heavily involved, and to add party weight Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour is co-hosting.

Barbour took himself out of the running for the number two slot earlier this month in an interview with the Washington Times. But Crist's name has long been floated, despite his denials and demurrals, as someone with a future in the national GOP. Bringing Republican leaders together for a summit on the future of the party is a sure way to keep the vice presidential buzz going.

Meanwhile, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, one of McCain's earliest backers, will give the keynote speech at a huge gathering of Wisconsin Republicans, the Wausau Daily Herald reports. The state hasn't voted Republican since 1984, but with McCain on the ballot, Badger Republicans are optimistic about their chances. (The latest RCP Wisconsin Average shows Barack Obama running just 1.6 points ahead of McCain there.)

State and local parties around the country now have a plethora of choices for fundraising dinners large and small. Whether it's Crist, Pawlenty or any of the dozen or so serious contenders interested in the number two slot, no local party should have trouble lining up talent, especially if they're a swing state. Pawlenty, too, has serious appeal in the upper Midwest, a place McCain could make inroads in the search for new electoral votes, and heading to Wisconsin could be the beginning of his time in the sun.