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Pawlenty Talk Increasing

While John McCain is scheduled to appear with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal in New Orleans tonight, talk has increased this week that the presumptive GOP nominee is leaning toward Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, one of McCain's earliest supporters.

As CNN reports:

A Republican source who attended a small private meeting with John McCain in New Hampshire told CNN that the GOP candidate dropped a serious hint about his potential running mate.

The source said that "out of the blue" McCain told the gathering Tuesday that he thinks they are "really going to like" Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

The GOP source noted that McCain also said nice things about former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, but those appeared to be standard lines he says about former rivals.

This source said McCain may have been talking about Pawlenty because the meeting was with New Hampshire GOP delegates, and the Republican convention is in Pawlenty's state.

But this source said McCain's praise was effusive, and noteworthy because it appeared to come "totally out of left field."

Choosing Pawlenty would certainly make sense. While Minnesota has voted Democratic in the last eight presidential elections, the last two were close, with John Kerry defeating Pres. Bush by 3 points, and Al Gore winning by just 2 points. Although it's debatable how much a running mate helps win states, it's notable that Pawlenty won re-election in 2006, even as Democrat Amy Klobuchar delivered a crushing defeat on her way to the Senate and high school teacher Tim Walz knocked off a six-term Republican incumbent in the 1st District.

Because it's still unclear whether McCain would serve two terms if elected, it's worth notinig that Pawlenty is 47 years old -- the same age Barack Obama will be in two weeks.