BETHLEHEM, Pennsylvania (CNN) – Reluctant at first to wade into the vice presidential selection process, John McCain Wednesday was coaxed into offering more praise for one of the hotter names in the speculation game this week.
Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty drew more attention as a likely short-lister earlier this week after McCain brought him up unsolicited in New Hampshire, telling a private meeting of delegates they were “really going to like him.”
At a media availability inside a Bethlehem, Pennsylvania grocery store Wednesday, McCain was asked about talk Pawlenty was at the top of the list.
At first, McCain demurred, saying “you know that I can’t mention any names. We have a process going on.’
Pressed on whether he had anything positive to say about him, McCain quickly said, “Oh, Tim. I’m sorry. He’s a great, fine person.”
McCain told reporters, “he was re-elected in one of the toughest re-election years in the history of the Republican Party. His father, I am pretty sure, drove a truck. He’s a great success story”, adding he has “successfully been able to work across the aisle in Minnesota with the Democrats.”
Bad weather caused McCain to cancel a planned trip to New Orleans Wednesday night, where he was to meet with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. Jindal indicated earlier Wednesday he wasn’t interested in the No. 2 spot, but McCain included Jindal in praise of Pawlenty. He said, “He, Bobby Jindal and a number of governors, I think are the future of the Republican Party. The next generation of leadership.”
In an interview later Wednesday, McCain said he had not yet made a final decision on his choice.
McCain is in Ohio Thursday, home state of another potential contender, former Rep. Rob Portman.