[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/08/11/art.ridge.mccain.jpg caption="McCain and Gov. Ridge took part in a National Security roundtable in January."]
ERIE, Pennsylvania (CNN) – Tom Ridge might be a long-shot in the vice presidential sweepstakes, but John McCain certainly holds him in high esteem.
The presumptive GOP nominee, who refuses to discuss the vetting process for potential running mates, heaped praise on his friend and adviser on Monday in Ridge’s hometown of Erie, Pennsylvania.
At one point, a GE employee at a brief town hall meeting here asked McCain what his plans would be for his first 90 days in office.
“Call Tom Ridge to Washington from whatever vacation he is taking and get him to work,” McCain answered, to much applause.
Selecting Ridge, a Catholic and former two-term governor of Pennsylvania, could boost McCain’s chances in this swing state. But Ridge also supports abortion rights, a factor that would likely turn off segments of the Republican base.
McCain said he was “honored” to know Ridge, “who had every opportunity after he graduated from Harvard not to go to Vietnam. He could have found a doctor that would have a given a cert that he bad a bad knee. But instead he went and decided to serve his country during the Vietnam War.
“He came back here to Erie and he decided to be a prosecutor, and then he decided to seek a role, a seat in congress and then of course as governor,” McCain continued. That’s the kind of people this part of America produces. I’m proud to be in his company.”