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. The Patriot and not the Anti-American

    I also agree that McCain should choose Mitt Romney. Romney is a very smart man and he's ready to take on the dirty work (criticize Obama). Obama has lots of unfilled question marks and Romney can hit them hard!


    August 11, 2008 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  2. qweenmum

    Huckabee= DEALBREAKER, and will work for Obama campain, inculding donating money, which as a registered republican, I would not do, unless Huck is on the ticket. Pawlenty, I vote 3rd party. Can't and won't support anyone the bigot birdcage endorses or pushes It' time to purge the party of bigots.

    August 11, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  3. geen

    hmm..let me understand this....McCain condemns russia for invading the sovereign country of Georgia but CONDONES and favored escalating the Bush regmies invasion and occupation of the sovereign country of Iraq..go figure...and..WHAT is the common denominator...O-I-L!

    August 11, 2008 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  4. qweenmum

    Ridge, I would vote for. Not because I agree with him, but because he also makes the evang. taliban's heads explode.

    August 11, 2008 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  5. Peter

    I don't know much about Pawlenty but the rest of the guys on the "short list" seem to be more of a detriment than a help.

    Wow, McCain is completely flawed and the #2 guys sound even worse.

    August 11, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  6. Anyone but these 2

    These boards are ridiculous. Every time I try to enter a balanced or unifying message, CNN won't post it. It's all about catfighting. Worthless.

    August 11, 2008 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  7. Wood

    This really is not going to be relevant in a few weeks, since who ever BAM picks will solidify the general election for the Democratic Party..

    (Don't go Hillary, however...)

    August 11, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  8. Doug Ecklund

    For those Obama supportes who are like "Informed Voter" – I'd say Obama and his manicas have Flipped-Flopped on more issues already in the Primaries than Mitt Romney has done – Obama flipping on wearing the American flag, not allowing the American flag on O-Force one, flipping on Drilling, flipping on Proud to be an American – – flipping on who his Mentor is ( who truly hates America )and he wants to be Our President??? pathetic!!

    Mitt Romney is not only the best choice McCain can make for his VP – but can also be one of our Best Presidents – if necessary.

    Never will I vote for Obama!

    August 11, 2008 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  9. pat C.

    message to Mauri....
    if you are not an obama supporter anyway ,why do you care if you don't hear about his VP before we do? i think this is wonderful that obama cares enough for his supporters to give us a peek into what the rest of the world will know minutes later.for you couple of McSame robots ...don't let it bother you that we got it first!!
    it's called good leadership and modern tecnoligy. both are something your candidate shows he lacks in big time.

    August 11, 2008 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  10. Phil

    What kind of pretentious idiot {Obama} announces his VP pick via text message / email? I can't stand this guy more and more each day.

    August 11, 2008 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  11. mark

    to borrow a phrase from dear, old Don Rumsfeld, McSame is a "dead ender", trotting out the same tired strategies that have served this country so well these last 7+ years. I admire his military sacrifices, but we need a completely new direction, not more of the same. B-bye Sen McCain...

    August 11, 2008 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  12. Nick

    Judgement over experience-
    In answer to your first question. Everyone cares. In answer to your second, conservatives don't frequent CNN blogs. If you are implying that a lack of McCain comments on this thread is an indication that the country is overwhelmingly behind Obama, you clearly haven't seen the polls.
    Deb, Allentown, PA-
    "Jindal is too young, not "white" enough for the conservatives" Why do you quote white? White isn't a buzz word or phrased coined by someone. Furthermore, implying that the republican party is largley racist is extremely offesive. This coming from a democrat.
    Informed Voter-
    Your comment is the most annoying on this blog. Why preface your comment with "As an Obama Supporter". This doesn't give you any credibility. This just means that its your first time voting and you are in a bunch of political facebook groups. Thankfully you topped it off with the Flip Flopper reference. The phrase that UNinformed voters use to make themselves sound smart.

    August 11, 2008 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  13. Wisest one of All

    To Judgment over Experience I can answer this question of yours: "Isn't it funny that there are less and less mccain supporters on these blogs and more Obama supporters? Gee, wonder why?????" It is because War Hero McCain supporters are working people with jobs. Hussein Nobama supporters are all handout cases who collect welfare.

    August 11, 2008 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  14. eugene from new york city

    what do you call a democrat voting for mccain ? A hillary Democrat

    August 11, 2008 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  15. mike in MN

    To anyone but these 2.

    You are absolutly right. I got tired of posting thoughtful, fair and hopefull unifying comments. When I post outrageous and divise comments for fun, they get posted. Looks like CNN favors spliting the country apart for more news.

    August 11, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  16. Mark

    Sen. McCain will certainly avoid the sleaze factor if he chooses Ridge over Romney. The problem would then be: What will the very honorable but not very effective Ridge bring to the ticket?

    August 11, 2008 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  17. Michele, Oregon

    A Romney pick ought to send the Latino vote directly to Obama in the same ratios as the African American vote. Rather than 66% he will be getting 90+%. Romney wants to send all illegal immigrants back to where they came from unconditionally as he stated in the debates.

    Latinos are very Catholic as well. As a pro-life Democrat and a Catholic myself, we are proposing legislation to reduce the number of abortions by improving how we support the single mother to make the choice for life. Immigration is also very much at the heart of the Catholic Church's message. McCain on the other hand has a partisan Catholic schooled in Rove, his name is Deal, who is an adviser to McCain and will be trying very hard to make it sound as if Catholics cannot be Catholic and vote for Obama. He DOES NOT represent the Catholic voice, refused to include the Catholic Bishops in his groups (obviously could not include the social justice agenda favoring the Democrats), had an affair with a young student and had to resign from a similar position he held with Bush campaign. So McCain picks him up as a so-called Catholic adviser.

    Latinos for Obama!

    August 11, 2008 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  18. L

    CNN bloggers have no brain. all they do is nit pick and fight and never get into a proper debate about the questions. you only want to attack anything a mccain supporter says but never say anything about the trash that obama supporters spew out.

    back to this question. I will always be hoping to hear John McCain announce Romney as the VP. I bet the obama supporters are scared about this, they know romney is a smart man and has a lot to offer this country in the way of his economic experience.

    August 11, 2008 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  19. anyomous

    your are wasting your time in peensylvania mccain

    August 11, 2008 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  20. anyomous

    mccain will lose in ohio

    August 11, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  21. Maggie Muggins From Selwyn

    It doesn't matter who McCain picks as VP as all possibilities are tarred with the same brush by being Bush/Cheney Conservatives without the exposure.

    The President has to rely on many different advisers on many different issues and if these advisers are flawed like Cheney then so will all the President's decisions. Phil Gramm, George Bush and John McCain all think the economy is in great shape and so it will continue. If you like it vote for it.

    August 11, 2008 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  22. Ex-Republican for Obama

    Republicans are set on a course to murder more of our children. They are pushing for a war with Russia now. McCain freely admits that the war in Iraq and his current pursuit of a war against the former Soviet Union is about Oil.

    McCain = WW III

    Obama = Solutions

    August 11, 2008 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  23. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    It doesn't matter who McCain picks because republicans are looking at 2012. GWB didn't pick McCain as his VP so what makes McCain think he'll jump ranks and become president. Ridiculous is what it is.

    August 11, 2008 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  24. Michelle

    Sarah Palin!

    August 11, 2008 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  25. Val from MA

    Judgement over experience August 11th, 2008 11:36 am ET

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


    You know why? Because McCain's supporters are hard at work, while Obama's youngsters are on vacations from college and have nothing else to do but blog all day long. That's why.

    August 11, 2008 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
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