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. FLA Voter

    I REALLY hope it isn't Romney!!!

    I would take Hillary over him any day!!!

    Select Condi Rice...and IT IS OVER!!!

    August 11, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  2. dkroll

    I am hope for Condi Rice. I think she would be great on the ticket.

    August 11, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  3. DJ

    Boring Romney of course. Who else would you select for a boring candidate? He's got to keep up his reputation. He's a boring candidate, with a boring barbie doll wife, who'll pick a boring VP. End of story. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

    His convention will be the biggest snoozefest, after the most exciting convention in this country's history.

    If I was John, I'd join the circus for a couple of months, maybe sticking his head in a lion's mouth would bring attention to his boring campaign.

    August 11, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  4. sue calgary

    Who cares? He's the losing team.. If it did matter probably Romney, in the land of the blind the one-eyed man is King!

    August 11, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  5. Jordan, NJ

    Just one more name for the "Also Ran" column. We're waiting with baited breaths–NOT.

    August 11, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  6. Shari, NY

    Mr. McCain's VP should have an advanced degree in Economics among other attribures. Also there is an urgent need for someone who is familiar geography with emphasis on break away countries. Czechoslovakia comprises two separate nations: SLOVAKIA and the CZECH REPUBLIC.

    August 11, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |

    What???? America has a Vice President???
    Do we have one now?

    I don't think I've seen one of those lately.

    August 11, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  8. FL4Obama

    After McCain stooped to a level of blasphemous discourse in a presidential campaign, I really do not care about his VP pick any longer. That's unfortunate for a politician I used to support in 2000. It seems the more staff McCain hired from Bush/Rove, the less respectful his campaign tactics became. It's disappointing.

    August 11, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  9. Amanda, MD

    His medical records were more exciting than his pick for VP. The reason he is leading his party is because his party is regrouping. So he's a placeholder until they can get their A Team together.


    August 11, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  10. McCain Arrives at Failed Diplomatic Meeting in Scooter

    It's a tricky area for McCain. Can't pick someone that in comparison will make McCain look ancient, ill-qualified, undiplomatic, less vigorous, or a weak choice. Maybe McCain should give Dan Quayle a call..

    August 11, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  11. Filipina

    Who cares about Romney or Ridge, McSurge same ole same ole......Yes We Can!!!!

    August 11, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  12. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    When are you all going to show the clip about McCain saying at a townhall meeting earlier this year "……. and we will never have to go to war for oil again……."

    Please show that cliip over and over. We got all of Obama's stuff over and over for months. Georgia has pipelines going thru it – that's why the repukes are so interested. Oil Oil Oil Oil Oil Oil

    Fair and balanced should mean fair in ALL ways.

    Obama '08

    August 11, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  13. Mike Dallas

    Since Obama is announcing his VP choice by texting and emails, I would suggest that McCrypt and Crew set up a 24/7 watch on the corrals at their local pony express offices, just in case they wish to respond with the Republican's VP choice.

    August 11, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  14. JD

    Obama's going to set up 1-900 numbers so America can vote for their favorite VP choices! Just like on "American Idol"! Isn't he just fabu??

    August 11, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  15. Tom B.

    Hopefully the people of this country will come to their senses and realize that Obama is not the best choice. He was absolutely the least qualified candidate of the Democrats. McCain is a decorated veteran with many years of experience. Obama is an unknown.

    August 11, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  16. LLMTruth

    Whoever it is, I hope they have the strength to prop his tired, senseless butt up. If it happens to be anyone from the Dubya administration, it would be like the kiss of death. He already caved in to party pressure with, shoot you in the face, Cheney speaking at the republican convention. Birds of feather do flock together.

    If it is good ole boy Tom Ridge that would just be further prove that McBrianless is just a stooge for the Dubya administration. And to be honest, the way the guys gray matter has been failing him more and more each day I wouldn't be surprised if Georgie and his croonies picked his running mate for him. He already has one of his croonies running his campaign; the same guy that insulted his adopted daughter by dragging her through the mud in his 2000 bid for the nonminaton.

    And now that I think of it, you can't use my daughter to further your ambitions in whatever you're trying to accomplish. Not without a knock-down – dragged-out fight. That would show a serious lack of spine. In other words, cowardly. Besides, he already admitted he was a coward when he pandered on the confederate flag issue.

    If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck.

    Go ahead CNN and censor this if you want, who cares?

    August 11, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  17. Denise Groves

    i don't care, really. i suppose he should pick a walking, living, lively, breathing person, to contrast himself

    August 11, 2008 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  18. California Gold

    Who cares. McCain would be the President. That is dangerous: a man who can't remember the difference between Sunni and Shiite, can't remember if he voted on legislation or not and when reminded of his vote he laughs off his poor memory, cheated on his wife, can't remember that Czechoslovakia is no longer a country, and jokes about rape.

    August 11, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  19. John Hussein Karsten

    Hillary "the whinner" Clinton!!!!

    August 11, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  20. v.a.

    does anybody else find romney's stares creepy?

    August 11, 2008 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  21. dennis from chicago

    it is simple send me your E MAIL ADDRESS and when i lose i will sell them for 50 cents THEN i can quit the SENATE and be a millionaire buy cocaine and be happy........ CHANGE WE CAN COUNT ON///// i vote ROMNEY or CHRIS.....GO MC CAIN ALL THE WAY TO THE WHITE HOUSE///

    August 11, 2008 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  22. Brenda of Saginaw ,Michigan

    Well, maybe it will be that guy who worships his underwear. (Romney)

    August 11, 2008 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  23. ProudToBeDemocrat

    Who cares I can not wait for this old man to disapear like Hillary. Sick at looking this pailed white old man.

    August 11, 2008 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  24. Brian

    Romney = dealbreaker
    Ridge = dealbreaker

    If McCain does not choose a solid conservative, both on social and economic issues, the Republican base will sit on their hands as Obama gets elected. Personally, Huckabee is my first choice for VP, but it seems the media and establishment Republicans have branded him as an economic liability, which is ridiculous because he turned a huge deficit into a huge surplus in Arkansas without raising taxes and resurrected the state's economy. Thus McCain should pick Pawlenty, Sanford or some other solid conservative like them.

    August 11, 2008 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  25. Deb, Allentown, PA

    There are numerous issues with many of the people on McCain's purported VP list.

    Romney is all hair and no heart. His Mormon background will alienate the Christian Conservatives.

    As mentioned in the article, Ridge's pro-choice stance will hurt McCain's appeal to conservative voters. His less-than-successful stint as head of Homeland Security won't help.

    Jindal is too young, not "white" enough for the conservatives, and his exorcism experience makes him too far out there.

    Lieberman just donated over $100,000 to the DSCC so he could keep his seat on a committee. Diehard repubs will HATE that.

    Griff, you said a woman? Who?

    Rice has potential, but she's going to represent Bush's failed foreign policies and it will be tough to distance herself.

    Palin had possibilities but she's gotten herself into a very sticky situation with the brother-in-law firing issue.

    I dare McCain to pick Carly Fiorina. It is incomprehensible that her name could even be on any short list – fired from her position at HP after pillaging the company and sending numerous jobs overseas, no government experience, etc. That would be a match made in heaven for Obama supporters.

    BTW, where were the CNN moderators this weekend??? Even McCain worked this weekend.

    August 11, 2008 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
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