August 11th, 2008
09:52 AM ET
14 years ago

Analysis: McCain's VP - who will it be?


Watch: CNN's Ed Henry reports on what real people in Ohio are saying about the GOP choices for Vice President..

WASHINGTON (CNN) - With John McCain touring Pennsylvania Monday with his good friend and the state's popular former governor, Tom Ridge, the buzz is inevitably building about whom the Republican presidential candidate will select as his running mate.

If chemistry winds up being a key factor for McCain, Ridge has to be high on the so-called short list of veep possibilities - and the fact that Pennsylvania is such a critical swing state doesn't hurt. Plus, as a moderate Republican, picking Ridge could help give McCain even more street cred with independent voters as he tries to re-build the maverick image that faded a bit as he grew closer to President Bush in recent years.

But on the other hand, choosing Ridge could alienate social conservatives because of the former governor's long support for abortion rights. Given the reactions I gathered on my recent trip to another key battleground, Ohio, Republican rank-and-file voters want a conservative to fill out McCain's ticket and help get the party's base to the polls.

Their overwhelming favorite is Romney - not Ridge.

While I was in Lima, Ohio, last week I decided to ask Republican voters waiting on line for a McCain town hall meeting what they think, in order to gauge their passion.

The overwhelming favorite, no question, was former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. More than a dozen Republicans told me Romney would be McCain's best choice, especially with the economy emerging as issue number one on the campaign trail. "McCain's no businessman," said Sherry Key, adding of Romney: "I think he's good at economics and that's what John McCain needs. It's the only thing he's lacking."

Roberta Leach said Romney would excite economic conservatives in particular. "He can run a business, he can run the country," she said.

Another Republican woman, Chris McNamara, said that Romney is also a "little more conservative on family values" than McCain.

Romney backer Diane Hager told me that in such a close election with Democrat Barack Obama, she's worried that if McCain does not pick a conservative it will hurt him in November. "I think if he doesn't pick a conservative running mate he's going to have some conservatives that stay home and don't vote and that would be a real big mistake," she said.

Interestingly, several voters I spoke to knew very little about another person on McCain's short list, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. "I don't know much about him, it's a new name," said Sue Kayser, who told me she's backing Romney. "People aren't going to vote for an unknown."

In fairness to Pawlenty, however, he has been on the national stage for a shorter time than Romney and did not run for president himself so it makes sense that he has less name I.D. And it's worth noting that many voters told me they would consider Pawlenty carefully and could be swayed to support him - but they said McCain would have to do a much more aggressive job of selling the governor to Republican voters than he would have to with Romney.

And there's another wild card in the mix: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. McCain supporter John Hiles told me he likes that Rice could pull female and African-American votes from Obama, as well as the Secretary's national security credentials. "She's capable of leading this country," he said.

Of course, that experience came under an unpopular President whom McCain is trying to split himself from these days. In addition, Rice keeps saying she does not want the VP job. So the overwhelming consensus I found in that one important part of Ohio was Romney.

Unlike his close relationship with Ridge, McCain has had some frosty dealings with Romney. Still, back in 1960, two presidential candidates - John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson - didn't have much use for each other after a brutal Democratic primary campaign. Their partnership worked out pretty well because Kennedy and Johnson agreed on at least one thing: They both wanted to win.

Filed under: John McCain
soundoff (131 Responses)
  1. Griff

    You can bet, it a Lady...

    August 11, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  2. Judgement over experience

    Who cares??? Isn't it funny that there are less and less mccain supporters on these blogs and more Obama supporters? Gee, wonder why?????

    August 11, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  3. Susan

    No matter who he picks, that person can kiis his political career goodbye! OBAMA 08!!!

    August 11, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  4. Mauri

    Thank Goodness - John McCain WON'T be announcing his VP choice via texting. After all, whomever is elected is presumably the President and Vice President of ALL the people - not limited to individual supporters. In other words, if we don't support Obama, we'll have to wait to learn who is running as the Democratic VP. Not a good thing.

    August 11, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  5. Walt, Belton,TX

    Extreme right-wing conservatives will not get John McCain elected. The moderate, mature conservatives will. We don't trust Romney, we don't like Romney, we'll stay home if Romney is the VP nominee!

    August 11, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  6. Kevin

    I think Mccain should pick his first wife, Carol, to make up for the extra marital affairs he had on her. Oh wait, nobody is supposed to talk about that!

    August 11, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  7. NoMcSame

    Putin. If you can't beat him join him. McSurge may need him to make peace so that our thin troops that are spread out all over the world don't have to go and help fight against the commies. MSurge is yellow and will not use his surge method on Putin and the boys. No Guts no Glory.

    August 11, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  8. mike in MN

    Who ever McCain will choose for his VP, they will be 5 times more qualified to be President then Obama.
    I can't believe Obama is the best the Democrats can come up with. On second thought, Gore, Kerry/Edwards. OK Obama makes sense now. They just don't have much to choose from.

    McCain in 08!!!

    August 11, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |

    And this is news???

    August 11, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  10. Luis

    McCain/Romney vs Obama and anyone is a victory for GOP.

    Down with the Socialist agenda of Obama and his merry band of anti-American clowns (Michelle, Ayers, Wright, Pfleger and on and on)

    Vote McCain or join the insane

    August 11, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  11. Jann, Denver CO

    You people are crazy if you think Condoleezza Rice can pull African American votes from Obama. This is not about color for African Amercians; its about the economy, education and health care. Condoleezza is part of the failed Bush Administration and therefore is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

    Because McShame has no personality he has no choice but to choose Romney whether he likes it or not. In the end who McLame chooses will not matter because he will lose anyway.

    August 11, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  12. Joe Kiloz

    1. Pawlenty 2. Romney 3. Bloomberg One opinion based on McCain's past track record of being independent minded along with constantly doing what is the right thing for the country, above political needs.

    August 11, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  13. kim hussein taylor portland, oregon

    with the bumbling joke that mccain's campaign has been, picking ridge--a key figure in the FAILURES of the bush/cheney white house--makes perfect sense!

    "...Rice could pull female and African-American votes from Obama"--that is a JOKE, women and african americans are not that stupid, thank you very much. we are all very aware of the fact that condi is just another old, white male when it comes to politics and policies! condi has really let us down!!!

    August 11, 2008 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  14. Informed Voter

    As an Obama Supporter .. Romney is his best choice .... he brings in the economic experience/conservatives he is lacking .. but Romney has one large flaw . . He is on the biggest Flip Flopper .. he would replace Mc Cain

    Heard Lie-berman was on his short list???? .. LOL

    August 11, 2008 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  15. Sacto Joe

    WHO CARES who his VP choice is – unless people figure he'll drop dead halfway into his term....

    August 11, 2008 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  16. Rich in Indy

    McCain needs someone with economics to shore up his campaign. Obama needs someone with everything to prove that he has enough experience to be elected.

    August 11, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  17. Rudy NYC

    Wow, what an election year. Both major parties have candidates with issues, and their popular choice for VP as well.

    Obama loses on the experience card. Clinton for VP is popular but also a liability in the general election. Undecideds and independents will not vote for her because of her name and her husband.

    McCain loses on everything except war card. Romney for VP is popular, but also a liability. He comes across as exactly what this country does not want, another Bush. Undecideds and independents will not vote for him.

    Obama and McCain have nearly identical problems choosing a VP.

    August 11, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  18. Sherry, Atlanta

    Allow me to say, Ms. Key...John McCain is MISSING MORE THAN ECONOMIC'S, MCCAIN LACKS "JUDGEMENT"

    August 11, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  19. aaa

    both of this crooks look really good. Mccain and that Block of ice Romney. republican crooks!!!!!!!!!!!!

    August 11, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  20. Eric in Ca

    WHO CARES – what McCain picks as VP?!
    We had one President (Regan) develop Alzheimer after leaving office, we don't need one (McCain) going in with Alzheimer!
    The future is NOW! Obama!

    Historic vs. PreHistoric!

    August 11, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  21. Matt

    Romney would be my choice.

    However, then we would have to listen to all the fear mongering from the leftists about how Romney is going to make everybody Mormon.

    Ignorance knows no bounds in the democrat party.

    McCain/ Romney for a REAL change to move America Forward!!!!

    August 11, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  22. DR. YES

    who cares who he picks.he'll never be president.too many lobbyists.he sounds like he wants to bash russia for doing the same thing we did in iraq,[only on a much larger scale].bush's deception in iraq,and mccain's support of it, has made the world less stable.we may be dealing with the consequences of this for some time to come.

    August 11, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  23. Ian

    "Who cares??? Isn't it funny that there are less and less mccain supporters on these blogs and more Obama supporters? Gee, wonder why?????"

    That's probably a result of CNN moderators not letting pro-McCain comments through. I doubt if this one will see the light of day as I would venture to say that less than 25% of my comments ever get posted. Meanwhile, crap like "Obama is the Messiah!" gets posted with regularity.

    If you can't see CNN's lips firmly attached to Obama's rear end, then you're blind.

    August 11, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  24. Henry Miller, Cary, NC

    As a former Republican, the one and only way McCain gets my vote is if he can convince Ron Paul to be his VP. Failing that, I expect I'll vote for Barr.

    August 11, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  25. WHAT THE...?

    Maybe he should pick that no-name mayor of Podunk, N.J.

    August 11, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
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