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. Tony

    I hope McCain picks Romney as his V.P. choice. It just proves how two-faced McCain really is.

    August 11, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  2. therealist

    It doesn't matter, HATE is all the left knows..

    August 11, 2008 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  3. Cindy

    Condi Rice seems to be a fan of Obama... she's not going to block him for McCain, even if she is a Republican.

    Oh and Mr. Wolfson.. cry me a river. The political process is full of twists and turns. Yes, had news been spread earlier, there would be a different outcome. Had Barack not been hit on the head by that rock, the outcome would be different. Had Monica not been an intern... you get my drift. Let it go, man.

    August 11, 2008 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  4. M. Winners, Mesa, AZ

    Don't forget people, if by some freak of nature McLame get elected whom ever he picks as Veep is going to end up as POTUS. The Veep pick will be the real Prez.
    Without question McLame is old, having memory problems, stamina problems (takes weekends off remember?) and has ailments that are being kept from the press that will certainly cripple if not kill him during his term.

    August 11, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  5. democracynow2008

    John McCain lacks alot more then a VP that understands economics he lacks the ability to understand what the real issues are that concern Americans thats why he will lose in November.

    August 11, 2008 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  6. My Friends, let me tell you

    I will start the draft the day after I get elected so everyone gets to have some fun.

    August 11, 2008 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  7. JImmy in California

    Like John McCain, I have no idea who will be his VP selection. I am, however, confident he will get it into the smoke signals as soon as he gets enough fire wood.

    August 11, 2008 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  8. My Friends, let me tell you

    Phil Gramm is not an oil man,didnt invent the Enron loophole,and wont take the rest of your paycheck when I am elected.He will wait at least one week.

    August 11, 2008 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  9. TX for OBAMA

    I hope we outsource our Presidential Election every 4 years. Let some smart people in China and India figure out who our President should be for us. We sure seem to be doing a terrible job of it, and I am sick of being led by these Idiots that the majority of us have found for us.
    Look at this Election so far – There is no business McCain should even be this close.

    OBAMA ‘08

    August 11, 2008 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  10. Penn

    Mitt Rom. would have the number one office. He will not sit back and watch McCain blunder his way through............

    McCain choose your VP carefully!

    August 11, 2008 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  11. Yankee Air Pirate

    Romney probably but it won't mean too much.McCain will smoke the Magic Mulatto in November.

    August 11, 2008 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  12. Peggy - TX

    Mike – Texas

    If you are being censored, then why are your comments being displayed often?

    I find that only about 1 in 3 of mine make it in.

    Maybe they do not bother to comment, becasue Most Republicans are not capable of independent throught or analysis, else they would wake up and stop voting agaist their self interest.

    August 11, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  13. MoveOn

    Romney would be an excellent choice, especially compared to the "Lie and Deny" strategy of Democrats – proof being Billy Clinton and Johnny Edwards. Mitt is a polar – opposite: honest, solid family values, high integrity and honesty.
    I'd vote for him in a heartbeat!

    McCain/Romney – Trust Restored 2008

    August 11, 2008 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  14. Emma, San Jose, CA

    Mitt Romney as potential President. No way. Likewise Ridge. Jindal said no. Pawlenty – if Obama is too inexperienced to be President, so is Pawlenty.

    August 11, 2008 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  15. Ray

    Romney is the right choice. His track record of success (Bain, Olympics, Governor) stacks the deck in McCain's favor. Obama's lack of experience a huge problem that Dems are turning a blinde eye to. But they will come to realize this in Nov.

    August 11, 2008 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  16. chris

    I would definitely vote for mccain if they picked ridge as a VP candidate...but would not be sure if the team would beat obama...

    August 11, 2008 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  17. Rocky

    Romney is the clear choice, he can help win Michigan and also help out west.

    August 11, 2008 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  18. minorities rule

    Obama has to pick a white female to be VP, but he should announce the candidate as status quo and not alienate potential voters by informing 'his' people via text -people who already are going to vote for him. Clinton would make it a good ticket...

    August 11, 2008 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  19. Carolina

    McCain should pick Lieberman. That way he would pull in the Jewish votes in Florida and the thing is wrapped up.
    And Independents love Lieberman and they are the ones who will decide this election.

    August 11, 2008 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  20. Nikki


    August 11, 2008 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  21. Willow, from Iowa

    We know Lieberman won't get it, he donated a whole bunch of money to the democratic national committee awhile back. I imagine it will be Mitt Romney, the bad used car salesman guy. He would back up anybody in hopes of being President someday. If you watch Lieberman and Crist standing beside McCain while he gives his speech, they are very careful watching for gaffes. How terrible it must be to be the person expected to save the candidate from himself.

    August 11, 2008 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  22. Mac Stax

    Who cares who he picks – the real choice for Republican voters this year is BARR.

    Don't throw your vote away on McCain – he is just pretending to be on the conservative band wagon.

    Let's right him in if we have to.... BARR, BARR, BARR!

    August 11, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  23. Retired Veteran from New York City, NY

    McCain-Mitt Roomney, I'm hoping for this tiicket. It will be a landslide for Obama like Ronald Reagan did to Jimmy Carter 1980.

    That guy Romney is very aggressive in negativity and frankly with his Religious, Momon Status, he could probably deliver couple of States with low Electoral College Votes to McCain. The Christian Conservative Base will certainly not vote for McCain while the Democratic Base will energize to vote for Obama, it' will be interesting.

    Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity will have something to run their mouths about. I vote for the McCain-Mitt Romney Ticket, it will be a great one. Do it McCain!

    August 11, 2008 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  24. Pat in Cali

    Romney = Antichrist

    McShame/Romney = USA third world nation

    August 11, 2008 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  25. ginny bell

    PUT HILL.....AS YOUR VEEP.......

    August 11, 2008 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6