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. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Under consideration......Pretty boy Romney or Tom "warrior" Ridge.........who would I pick.....Paris Hilton......why......because she is "HOT>"

    August 11, 2008 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  2. RSR

    Obama needs to be defeated soundly. Read his Senate Bill (S.2433) He plans to tax Americans $845 Billion Dollars payable to the U.N. so they can give it to anyone (dictators, rouge countries hostile to the USA) all in the name of poverty. Obama has 'locked' this bill to the UN's Millenium Declaration which will 'require' America be subservient to UN doctrines & mandates!!! You better read up on this before you vote. Goggle in...'OBAMA'S GLOBAL POVERTY PLAN' and ask yourself, how will you pay this tax???
    *** Obama will destroy our country ***

    August 11, 2008 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  3. Veteran for Obama

    McCain may be a military veteran but he greatly exaggerates his accomplishments. He is no better than the 4200 plus soldiers who have been killed in Iraq and sacrificed their life at the expense of McCain and Bush and their manipulation of facts in order to go to war. At least McCain survived and is able to walk around and tell lies and dirty jokes like he has been doing. He is sick.

    August 11, 2008 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  4. Debby

    Well the Repub. have a stronger choice than Obama has thats for sure.

    August 11, 2008 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  5. michelle

    Romney is an *arrogant elitist* who could never relate to the hard times americans are going thru
    Good grief MCcain is getting more older looking every day!!!!
    Hes too OLD for POTUS..period!!!!

    August 11, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  6. How does CNN determine who gets posted?

    Is it me or does Romney appear to be giving McCain googoo eyes?

    August 11, 2008 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  7. some guy in New Hampshire

    Romney has no more experience in government than Obama does, so that neutralizes his qualification in that area. He ran a business, but government exists to do things that business can't and don't do and are run to achieve different objectives. So Romney's business experience isn't directly useful either. The fact that someone ran a successful business doesn't translate to a knowledge of how to structure economic policy, so the idea that business success imparts economic wisdom to Romneyis another fallacy. Romney does seem to be a good organizational manager, but presidents and vice presidents don't run organizations; that's what cabinet secretaries and the president's chief of staff do. Presidents and vice presidents run policy - and Romney hasn't shown anything there but an eagerness to say "me too"to whatever the Republican National Committee decides is ideological orthodoxy.

    McCain also would be wise to remember that Romney polled dead last in popularity among all candidates in the primary, Republican or Democrat. There's a reason for that.

    August 11, 2008 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  8. Maria

    I think Romney would be a great addition to the ticket. A hard worker, bright, articulate and successful.

    I still don't get the support for Dems. They believe in killing babies, but don't kill a killer, bigger federal government and less local government, little or no individual responsibility and winking at those who have sexual perversions and treat it as if it's okay. How can anyone take their party seriously? Especially at a time like this with wars in many countries, plagues and natural disasters are prevelent. All they can do is make things worse.

    August 11, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  9. Judgement over experience

    I truly hope he does pick Mitt, the used car salesman than mcsurge will definitely lose.

    August 11, 2008 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  10. Judgement over experience

    I truly hope he does pick Mitt, the used car salesman than mcsurge will definitely lose. Two losers on the same ticket=loser

    August 11, 2008 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  11. former (R) William, New Jersey

    Barack Obama 08! no matter who the VP is...


    Mccain is not ready to lead. He's a puppet. The best the repugs could produce. Please. If Hillary were a repug, the race would be Obama vs. Hillary for president easily.

    Obama 08!

    August 11, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  12. RYnAZ

    Wow Obama supporters not only have bad taste, but they have bad grammer and can't spell either! Way to Go Obama! pshhh.. If we want to have a world we can live in, MCCAIN in 08!!! Arizona's got your back!

    August 11, 2008 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  13. BR

    You lefties are so unbelievable. You think the Messiah is this great man. He is a joke politician and will lose in Nov. Then you will be screaming how racist everyone is. You guys are such tools.

    August 11, 2008 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  14. SIMP

    mike MN

    Are you serious? How in the world can you criticize the democrat party when the last 8 years a dumb rebublician has been running this country? Now we have another dumb republician trying to get in office. You need to count your blessing, because mc old timer won't be the next president.


    August 11, 2008 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  15. Mike - Texas

    To - Judgement over experience

    The main reason that there are fewer and fewer supporters on here for McCain than Obama is that the CNN moderators won't post our comments. We are being sensored by the pro Obama media.

    August 11, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  16. Andy in Charlotte, NC

    Can we please report on what's going on in the world instead of trying to analyze things? Forget all these political analysts...let's actually hear some news stories! I'm so fed up with the media.

    August 11, 2008 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  17. JC

    Condoleezza Rice would be a decent choice for McCain and not because of the fact that she is a woman or black. She would be a good choice because she is well qualified. Who cares about the "black" vote or the "woman" vote. If people are voting solely because of a vice-presidential candidates skin color or gender, they are doing it for all the wrong reasons.

    August 11, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  18. Julie from LA

    Has anyone looked at Romney and McCain side-by-side?

    I don't think McCain wants a VP who makes him look even older and more decrepid. Plus, Romney's strength in economics just makes McCain look dumber (Romney can probably also "go online himself").

    It'll be Pawlenty. "Bland and blander."

    August 11, 2008 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  19. Dave, Illinois

    Ha Ha, "Judgement over Experience", that would be because most McCain supporters work for a living. Now go back to your bong.

    August 11, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  20. Calvin Tampa, FL

    McCain/Romney will be a good ticket for GOP. If Obama is elected, we'll be the laughing stock of the world... Obama's energy policy of inflating tire pressure is a joke. Look at the rest of the world, they are looking for oil, anywhere they can find it. We use more oil than anybody in the world, yet Obama and Pelosi is saying no drilling.... how moronic can they get???? Maybe GOP can get lucky and Obama will pick Pelosi as his running mate....

    August 11, 2008 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  21. Empty suit, empty promises

    I would be thrilled with Condi Rice as it would be great to hear and read the socialists and affirmative action only maggots up in arms as she is just a "token" or was picked just because she is "black" and a "woman".

    Just watching Keith Olbermann, that nice man RayRay Maddow and Chris Matthews etc, etc, etc stuttering and stammering when trying to hammer her would be worth it.

    I think she would and SHOULD get picked, because she is a genius and a good and decent person who would be a great VP candidate who HAPPENS to be black and a woman.

    August 11, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  22. J. Dean, a Republican from Juno Beach, FL


    August 11, 2008 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  23. My Friends, let me tell you

    Im picking my doctor so he is close by.

    August 11, 2008 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  24. qweenmum

    Pawlenty is pushed by the Evangalical 'leadership'. In my book, that's a huge red flag. For my childrens sake, I cannot vote for anyticket endorsed or pushed on us by these bigoted men. My children are of all colorsl, but their faith preclueds them from obtaining higher office. I that fair? is that right? No. Therefore, I am willing to do 4 of Obamanation in exchange for purging the party of those who feel a experience, qualified Mormon is less quaified than a room temp. "evangalical'.

    For my Children, I'll vote 3rd party or for Obama, if any of those supported and endorsed by what I term as the Evangalical Taliban is on the ticket.

    August 11, 2008 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  25. Got news for you

    No one much cares who Obama's VP will be either. Hillary would bring him a win because even though her supporters do not like Obama they would be really votng for her.

    If he does not choose her – he will loose for sure. Frankly, he might even loose with her on the ticket – he is just not a good pick for President. He is the nominee only because of the media and the dem. party, but you cannot control the voters no matter how hard you try – we will not be taken advantage of by the media or the dem. party – we are way to smart for that.

    People know who McCain is – not so with Obama. A Hillary supporter turned McCain supporter!!

    August 11, 2008 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
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