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July 7, 2008

McCain’s Veepstakes: The Top 15 Contenders


John McCain has several objectives when it comes to his vice presidential choice. He must address the age issue, most likely choosing someone younger than himself, while also giving baby boomers and even younger voters a contemporary on the ticket.


He must choose someone who garners the support of the conservative movement, which McCain himself has long had trouble doing. Secondary considerations include geography, as well as demographic and biographical factors.


Here are the top 15 candidates, along with their pros and cons and odds of being picked. For my thoughts on the Democratic veepstakes, see my column of May 26.


Michael Bloomberg, Mayor, New York

Pro: Largely respected technocrat, shares McCain’s popularity with centrists.

Con: No longer a Republican; not likely to be chosen a year after leaving the GOP.

Odds of Being Picked: 75-1


Sam Brownback, U.S. Senator, Kansas

Pro: Social conservative; credentials stronger than anyone listed here.

Con: Presidential campaign never took off; too conservative to lure centrists.

Odds of Being Picked: 40-1


Jeb Bush, Former Governor, Florida

Pro: Popular ex-governor of a major swing state; almost certainly would have been top presidential contender this year if he wasn’t . . .

Con: George W. Bush’s brother. Enough said.

Odds of Being Picked: 100-1


Eric Cantor, Congressman, Virginia

Pro: Rising young star in Congress, Jewish and could lure Jews into the GOP column.

Con: Little known to most; Republicans likely need him in Congress

Odds of Being Picked: 50-1


Charlie Crist, Governor, Florida

Pro: Popular current governor of a major swing state; adds youth to the ticket.

Con: Socially liberal, and single (although he just got engaged); not nearly conservative enough for movement tastes.

Odds of Being Picked: 75-1


Rudy Giuliani, Former Mayor, New York

Pro: “America’s Mayor,” close with McCain, nearly 100 percent name recognition . . .

Con: None of which helped him in his disastrous presidential campaign, which proved that saying “9/11” over and over again does not a president make.

Odds of Being Picked: 80-1


Mike Huckabee, Former Governor, Arkansas

Pro: Drew much of the Christian conservative vote in primaries and won several states.

Con: Strongly opposed by the business wing of the party.

Odds of Being Picked: 20-1


Bobby Jindal, Governor, Lousiana

Pro: Exciting young talent who has been proclaimed the future of the GOP by many observers.

Con: Has been governor of Louisiana for literally less than six months; picking him would undercut “untested” arguments against Obama.

Odds of Being Picked: 40-1


Joseph Lieberman, Senator, Connecticut

Pro: Choosing a (sort-of) Democrat would shore up McCain’s bipartisan credentials, and also help with Jews.

Con: Was already picked as VP once and the ticket failed to win; at a combined age of 139, McCain/Lieberman would likely make the oldest presidential ticket ever.

Odds of Being Picked: 10-1


Sarah Palin, Governor, Alaska

Pro: Popular young governor, who could help McCain with women, especially disaffected Hillary supporters.

Con: Mother of four, one of whom has special needs, which may make campaigning difficult in states far from Alaska.

Odds of Being Picked: 25-1


Tim Pawlenty, Governor, Minnesota

Pro: Young executive, who supported McCain from the beginning and will preside over his convention in St. Paul.

Con: Unlikely to move Minnesota into the McCain column; a better bet for the presidential nod in 2012.

Odds of Being Picked 3-1


Rob Portman, Former Congressman, Ohio

Pro: Experience in Congress as well as the executive branch; from uber-swing state Ohio.

Con: About 99 Americans out of 100 likely could not place his name.

Odds of Being Picked: 10-1


Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State, California

Pro: Still mostly respected, by Bush Administration standards; putting her on the ticket would take away some of the “historical” vibe from Obama’s campaign.

Con: Intimately associated with every single Bush foreign policy failure; has said repeatedly that she does not wish to run for office.

Odds of Being Picked: 70-1


Mitt Romney, Former Governor, Massachusetts

Pro: Conservative movement favorite, prodigious fundraiser.

Con: He and McCain allegedly hate each other; some members of base have trouble with the Mormon thing; failed in a big way to connect with voters in his own run.

Odds of Being Picked: 8-1


Mark Sanford, Governor, South Carolina

Pro: Executive from a Southern state; likely to sway parts of conservative movement.

Con: Not especially well-known nationwide.

Odds of Being Picked: 7-1


© 2008 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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