McCain’s Frontrunners

In the finale of my McCain Veepstakes coverage, here’s my list of the top Republican Vice-Presidential nominee picks (again, going from least to most likely, in my opinion):

Mitt Romney (former Governor, Massachusetts). This is going to sound a lot like what I said about Romney yesterday – sure, he’s got economic experience and that would help the McCain campaign. But Romney and McCain aren’t exactly best friends, and the Massachusetts governor has never been popular with the Republican base. I don’t believe McCain/Romney 08 is coming.

Charlie Crist (Governor, Florida). I’ve heard Crist mentioned often as a VP pick, but other than his state I can’t see why. Sure, Florida has a lot of political money to give, it’s been a crucial state in the last two elections, and some feel McCain owes the veep spot to Crist for his endorsement just before the Florida primaries. But Charlie Crist wouldn’t be a good John McCain pick for one big reason: he seems to willing to shift his opinion for what is popular. On abortion and same-sex marriage, Crist is a perceived waffler, trying to make everyone happy by avoiding concrete decisions. John McCain already lacks the true conservative credentials many Republicans were hoping for in their nominee – picking someone as moderate as Crist could be the last straw for some in the party.

Robert Portman (former Congressman, Ohio). I’ve probably got Portman too high on my list, but I can see why he’s been so highly touted – he has a ton of economic experience, he appeals to conservatives, and he could bring Ohio more into McCain’s hands. Portman spent 12 years in the House, and had stints as a trade representative, in the Bush cabinet and at the Office of Management and Business. His economic credentials would help a McCain campaign badly in need of some, and the potential to have Ohio’s 20 electoral votes is tempting. That said, having a running mate from the President’s cabinet would do little to dissuade voters that McCain wouldn’t be a “third Bush term,” as many on the left have said.

Tim Pawlenty (Governor, Minnesota). McCain/Pawlenty is by no means a done deal, but the Minnesota governor is out in front by a considerable margin. Pawlenty would help McCain appeal to the Republican religious base without alienating moderates, and he has the kind of “American Dream” story that would play well in the national media. His shortcomings – such as his lack of a national profile – aren’t too much of an issue (he can play “Washington outsider”), and he could bring his state, Minnesota, more into play this year. Like I said yesterday, these Veepstakes aren’t done yet, but Pawlenty is in a good position.

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