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« Congress: Not Popular | Blog Home Page | FEC Impasse Over »

McCain's Veep Meet

About two dozen people will join John McCain at his Sedona ranch this weekend, and though not all of them are potential vice presidential candidates some are certainly on McCain's short list. Word of who was invited continues to spread, so here's a quick look at the guest list and what they might bring to the party:

Governor Bobby Jindal: Jindal's youthful experience -- he's been an official at the Department of Health and Human Services, ran Louisiana's health care program and served as governor and he's only 36 -- would be a marked contrast, and he'd likely add to the impression McCain is trying to convey that this is no longer President Bush's Republican Party. He could also bring a good jambalaya recipe.

Governor Charlie Crist: Not a creature of Washington, Crist would bring a fresh, and very tan, face to the Republican ticket. He's only been governor for a year and a half, but he's hugely popular in Florida and would likely guarantee the crucial swing state for the GOP. He's got maturity, at 51, but he's not too old, and executive experience, and he's got a tough-on-crime reputation that earned him the nickname "Chaingang Charlie." But can he barbeque?

Ex-Governor Mitt Romney: We always thought Romney's biggest mistake in his presidential campaign was not playing up his business credentials more. If the economy's an issue come November, McCain could benefit from a running mate who can brag about turning around a number of companies and the Olympics. Romney is 61, but he looks 50, and vetting would be a cinch. Still, is the water completely under the bridge between the two old rivals? Romney seems like the type to bring a side dish to the barbeque to compliment the host's cooking. He might compliment the host's presidential aspirations nicely too.

Senator Joe Lieberman: He's been mentioned by a few for the short list, but the Independent Democrat is more at McCain's side for moral support than anything else. Picking Lieberman, a pro-choice Senator with a long history of a pretty liberal record, would inflame McCain's conservative base, so it's probably best if the Connecticut Senator plays ambassador to independent voters. Plus, no good barbeque comes from Connecticut.

Senator Lindsey Graham: McCain's closest friend in the Senate will be at the gathering this weekend, but it's not likely he will find his way to a short list. Graham would help with social conservatives, and at 52, he's young enough to be a pleasant but not jarring contrast with McCain. But two Senators on the same ticket could hurt a candidate needing to appear not of Washington. Then again, Palmetto-style barbeque sauce is tough to beat.

Governor Tim Pawlenty: Invited, but he won't be there (He's attending a wedding this weekend). Pawlenty has all of the above: A two-term governor who's young enough to contrast with McCain, a base in what could be a swing state, and a positive reputation in Washington conservative circles. Perhaps most importantly, Pawlenty was one of McCain's first backers, through thick and thin, and loyalty is a consideration in McCain's mind. Pawlenty is the guy who calls on his way to the barbeque to see if McCain needs anything picked up. "Like, maybe, a vice presidential candidate? I got one of those."

Ex-Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge: Invited, but he's got a prior commitment in Europe. The one-time governor of Pennsylvania brings a background in a swing state that has trended Democratic in recent years, and as the first head of a department dedicated to protecting the country he could help focus the debate more on national security, an issue on which McCain thrives. Added bonus: He was governor during the 1990's, when the economy was doing just fine, meaning he can take credit for adding jobs. Plus, he would be able to remind McCain not to order swiss cheese on the inevitable cheese steak.

Ex-Governor Mike Huckabee: Invited, but his anniversary is this weekend (Probably a wise choice to stick close to home, given that wife Janet likes grenade launchers). With impeccable credentials among social conservatives and an affable personality, Huckabee is conservative but not in a way that would scare anyone. A two-term governor, he doesn't bring any electoral votes, but he could serve as ambassador to the conservative base better than most. And imagine him debating any Democratic rival; Huckabee could run circles around most. But fiscal conservatives in Washington (especially at the Club for Growth) loathe him, which could cause trouble. In lieu of attendance, Huckabee could send a gallon of barbeque sauce from Sims' in Little Rock, makers of the best 'que we've ever eaten.

Sorry, Condoleezza Rice fans: Despite the most organized efforts of backers advocating a veep pick, the Secretary of State doesn't look like she was on the guest list. Interestingly, though, she happens to be in California, just a hop, skip and a jump away from Arizona, with British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who might just want to meet this McCain character.