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Looking at McCain's Options

As with Obama's VP guessing game, the best we can do with McCain is just to look at what we already know. Of either candidate, McCain has more of a reason to pick an unconventional running mate, the idea being that McCain needs to do more to win over moderates who are upset at the Bush administration. That reasoning has led to some wild options. Not to take away from any of these, it is unlikely McCain will pick a political neophyte, especially now that he or she will have to face Joe Biden in debate, such as the CEO picks of Carly Fiorina or Meg Whitman.

At the same time, it's hard to discount the obvious benefits of more conventional choices like Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty. These two are safe bets for the campaign and if McCain chooses either one, it will signal that the campaign is feeling very good about where they stand. Romney of course would somewhat diminish the effectiveness of the GOP's attacks on Biden, who made several critical comments about Obama's experience during the primary. Pawlenty, on the other hand, will help McCain win Minnesota, but can he guarantee it? That's a tough question, and I think a McCain-Pawlenty ticket will help in Minnesota as much as an Obama-Kaine ticket would have helped in Virginia -- in other words, some, but perhaps not enough to risk it. In the end, Michigan is more important and polls show that Romney can do a lot for McCain there -- as well as out West perhaps. Given Pawlenty and Romney, the ledger tips toward Romney.

So there you have it. If McCain doesn't go conventional, he'll surprise us. Unfortunately, there's no good evidence of whom that surprise will be.