May 22nd, 2008
12:00 PM ET
10 years ago

Roberts: McCain firing up the grill...and his veep search?

McCain is hosting friends and potential VP candidates this weekend.

McCain is hosting friends and potential VP candidates this weekend.

(CNN) - Hidden Valley Ranch. It’s a famous salad dressing, and there’s plenty of talk that John McCain will be looking to dress up the fall ticket at his Sedona, Arizona property that bears the same name. He is assembling three potential running mates at Hidden Valley this weekend. It’s a chance to grill for some good political friends, his campaign insists, but there’s no question that in terms of election year optics, it sure looks like he’s seeing how well they play together in social situations.

McCain certainly loves to grill. Steak, chicken, ribs (though purists will say you smoke ribs). He once even fired up the bar-b-que for the boys and girls on the bus, hosting the traveling press corps one recent weekend. But is this Memorial Day grill-up really just a social event? One man who should know is Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty. He attended just such an event on February 29th. This morning Pawlenty told me his weekend was “largely social." I asked him “do you talk a lot of politics? Do you get a sense he’s feeling you out?” “Mostly what you see is John McCain in a relaxed setting," he said. Ha! “Largely” and “mostly”. So he IS kicking the tires on potential running mates!

Every four years we play this parlor game of ‘veepstakes.' But who does have what McCain wants and needs? Pawlenty offered some insight this morning.

“A governor," he said “would bring executive experience, domestic experience, health care reform” “Any decision will be based on geography and politics and credentials."

Pawlenty has one important credential for McCain – he’s considered the most conservative governor of Minnesota since the 20’s. That’s good for a candidacy that conservatives still haven’t fully signed on to. And he’s good on economics, balancing Minnesota’s deficit-ridden budget without raising taxes. Could he deliver the ‘land of 10,000 lakes’ to McCain this year? Pawlenty says “in recent times, we’ve had some success with Republicans winning statewide”, but he acknowledges history is against him. Minnesota has been blue since JFK was elected. Heck, it’s the one state Walter Mondale managed to win in 1984.

Most of the veepstakes action has focused on governors, the more famous names like Pawlenty, Romney, Huntsman, Crist and Jindal. Good management and economic creds to shore up McCain on an issue he admits isn’t his “strongest suit”. But Republican media consultant Alex Castellanos thinks McCain should – and probably would go in another direction. National security. Picking someone in lockstep with his support for the military and war in Iraq. And that person, says Castellanos, is South Dakota’s John Thune. Thune is a giant killer – handing Tom Daschle his walking papers in 2004. He’s got John Edwards’ good looks and scores a perfect ‘100’ on the American Conservative Union’s 2006 rating.

And it just so happens that Thune was out to McCain’s home for a ‘grilling’, the same weekend as Pawlenty. Pass the ranch….

Filed under: John McCain • John Roberts
soundoff (54 Responses)
  1. Ratgurl

    Choose Hillary... she thinks you're the bees' knees!

    May 22, 2008 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  2. David

    Sen Mccain should pick his vp soon.very soon., get the jump on the democrats who will still be arguing up until convention as to whom will be democrat nominee., sure wish we could have some one from the old school running., like Johnson, Nixon, Kennedy., Truman.,Eisenhower., etc........personlly im not voting for any of the three candidates.............too bad we dont have none of the above on the ballots..........thats my story and im sticking to it.........

    May 22, 2008 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  3. R. Brown

    Nice distraction from those medical records being released huh?

    Not so fast McRAT. We are WATCHING and WAITING.

    May 22, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  4. sb

    To FEDUP: You are a MORON.

    May 22, 2008 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  5. Harry

    I really hope he does pick Lieberman – Can't imagine a more beatable ticket. Nader could beat that one.

    May 22, 2008 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  6. noemi in los angeles

    I bet McCain wants to pick Bush as his V.P.

    Okay, maybe I shouldn't joke about it otherwise it'll come true! lol

    If McCain picks Lieberman (the traitor) he will lose! Come on, we all know Lieberman is kissing McCain's feet and following him around like a sheep...he CLEARLY wants the veep spot.

    Actually, if I HOPE McBush picks Lieberman as his VP... then we can use all the dirt the Republicans tossed on Gore-Lieberman in 2000 right back at them!! Woo-hoo. Ahaha.

    May 22, 2008 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |


    May 22, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  8. Jana Delray Bch, Fl

    YOU GO BOY...

    May 22, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  9. Ben

    His friend Liberman is a political double face!

    May 22, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  10. Jason

    I think he still has to wait and observe how the Democrat race plays out. He could still pick someone on the left in order to secure himself in states that might be turning purple/blue

    May 22, 2008 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  11. Joel Corona, CA

    For the love of God choose Romney!

    May 22, 2008 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  12. No Way

    I think the Minnesota Governor would be a good choice.

    May 22, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  13. Spider

    Ladies United-

    Write in ballots are still legal in this country. I am a life long Democrat and would find it very hard to vote for McCain. However, Barack Obama will never get my vote. His whole campaign is HOPE for CHANGE. He has no concrete plans as to how to accomplish anything.
    Even if my ballot is tossed in the garbage because it's hand written, I have made my statement. I will vote, vote Democratic and express my displeasure for an empty suit shoved down my throat by the media.

    No Obomination in the White House.

    Greg Pottstown –

    Very, very good point. The General Election's debates will be enormously funny to watch. What is tongue tied Obama gonna do in a real debate? Somehow, I don't think "I agree with John" will work.

    No Obomination in 2008

    May 22, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  14. martin

    at least he can afford to grill out.we'll be having potatoes.

    May 22, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  15. Chewbacca

    We do not need four more years of Bush politics!!

    Ron Paul 08!

    May 22, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  16. Jim, Minneapolis

    Donald Diamond Land Deals. Opposing the new G.I. Bill that would give veterans college educations. His involvement in the Keating Five scandal. 100 more years in Iraq. He's no American Hero. He's an absolute tool. And so is anyone silly enough to vote for him. VOTE OBAMA.

    May 22, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  17. Chris, Middletown, CT

    Nothing wrong with McCain – other than the fact he will not change a thing....thats why this Republican is going with Obama – its time to heal...

    May 22, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  18. Tom, Minneapolis

    Pawlenty is a total meatball. He's shown us all his neat little red "veto pen" and has rustled his feathers in office. Only to get trumped by the majority. We're still getting our transportation bill, regardless of the fact that Pawlenty would rather raid our education budget than to fix up our old bridges that are collapsing. If McCain picks Pawlenty, I'll celebrate because then there is NO chance he'll beat Obama and his chosen VP.

    May 22, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  19. Capt. Smash, Salt Lake City, Utah

    I hope he picks Romney, that will help Obama in the south. They do not like Mormons down there.

    May 22, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  20. Steel

    Everyone knows that a Dem will get in this year. That's why HillBilly is in such denial. She could have been first but went negitive and showed her true colors. While eveyone waited for the angry black man in Obama to come out all we see is the crazy rants of a woman who played the race and sex cards who be King.

    She can't and never will get over this.

    If we (America) elects McCain aka Songbird, may God have pity on us.

    May 22, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  21. KE

    If Hillary wasn't on the Democratic Presidential candidate's list and Obama had to debate with other male candidates I wonder what happened.

    If Obama or any other men are in the Hillary's spot right now I wonder all the media will be still saying like "why is he still in the race?"

    May 22, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  22. Linned

    We rather hear about his medical records – not who his picks are for VP.

    May 22, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  23. Blabberwitz

    The Senator really needs to address his cognizant abilities. His continual demonstration of faulty awareness is scary.

    May 22, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  24. mike

    Go Mitt!

    May 22, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  25. Pat Riot

    Reformat your foreign policy, select Ron Paul as VP and appeal to his base....Boom! You win the election and bring the real conservative movement into full swing. American prospers and freedom is restored.

    May 22, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
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