Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Will McCain select Pawlenty as VP?

With John McCain all but certain to be the Republican nominee for president, people are turning their attention to whom he'll select as his running mate. Our Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty's name is being mentioned, because he's a governor and a long time McCain supporter.

Some say McCain needs to select someone from the South to solidify his support there. Other say he needs to select someone with more conservative bona fides because of the suspicion many conservatives have with McCain.

What will McCain actually do? The case can be made that he'll follow his own instincts and select someone based on personal affinity rather than one who serves exclusively some political purpose. McCain has an independent streak which supports this this line of thinking.

I came across a recent column containing a McCain quote on his criteria for a VP running mate which supports this line of thinking.
"The process will begin and the fundamental principle behind any selection of a running mate would be whether that person is fully prepared to take over and share your values, your principles, your philosophy, and your priorities. I think that's the first and only real criteria for the selection of a running mate."

McCain also dismissed the notion that he must pick someone for
geographic balance. He explained that, "From a practical standpoint, I think that former President Clinton and former Vice President Gore showed that you don't have to be regionally different. I think that America is such now, that the quote, regional differences, don't play the role that maybe they did in earlier times."
This suggests fit and compatibility are more important to him than geographical or political considerations. Pawlenty would then be a leading candidate for the VP, because there seems to be a personal affinity between him and McCain.

The perception that Pawlenty might also bring geographical benefits to ticket was mentioned in this column by the Wall Street Journal's John Fund. Fund's a conservative columnist whose comments strike me as almost supportive of Pawlenty.

Mr. McCain also puts several Midwest battleground states in play. Should he pick Minnesota's Gov. Tim Pawlenty as his vice presidential choice, he might have a leg up on carrying both Minnesota and Wisconsin, which went narrowly for Mr. Kerry in 2004.

"The media markets in western Wisconsin get Minneapolis television and are oriented to their news--Pawlenty would be a plus there," says Rep. Paul Ryan, a Republican. "McCain's independent stands would play well in that region--which is exactly where GOP presidential candidates have done poorly enough so that they lost statewide by 12,000 votes or so in both 2004 and 2000."

Pawlenty as a vice presidential nominee would carry on the Minnesota tradition of Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale who were nominees and then eventually vice presidents.

One caveat might be a very strong finish by Huckabee throughout the South which could put substantial pressure on McCain to select him.

It will be interesting to see what happens.

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