Predicting whom a particular candidate will take as Vice-President is always difficult because so many factors play into it. Do both candidates get along? Is the presidential nominee looking to carry a particular state, region, or demographic group, is he looking to solidify his base, or is he just trying to add strength across the board in a general election? In the case of Mr. “Maverick,” it’s even tougher than normal to predict whom he might choose. Logic says that he should take a rock-ribbed conservative to try to shore up relations with his own party, but there’s no way to predict at this point if McCain will go that way.
Still, here are a few guesses at potential names McCain may consider,
Haley Barbour: Barbour is very conservative, a former Republican National Committee chairman, and the governor of Mississippi. He also attracted nationwide attention by doing a phenomenal job in the aftermath of Katrina, even as the incompetents in charge in New Orleans botched the job. On the other hand, Mississippi is not exactly a swing state, he has been involved in some race-based controversies, and he probably wouldn’t add much to the ticket outside of the South.
Marsha Blackburn: The TN Congresswoman is attractive, has a superb personality, and has a 97% lifetime ACU rating. She would be a fantastic choice if McCain wanted to reach out to conservative voters and women voters at the same time. Of course, Blackburn has only been in office since 2002, but that still makes her more experienced than Barack Obama. How seriously McCain would look at Blackburn is hard to say, but at first glance, she would appear to be an excellent choice for Veep.
Tom Coburn: Coburn is a rock-ribbed conservative with particularly outstanding credentials on illegal immigration and fiscal conservatism. Moreover, he has endorsed McCain and worked with him many times on issues of fiscal conservatism. However, he’s not that charismatic and Oklahoma isn’t exactly expected to be a battleground state in 2008. That means he may not add enough to the ticket overall to be seriously considered.
Charlie Crist: Florida has been a key swing state in the last two elections and for that reason, Crist, who is the extremely popular governor of that state, would probably be considered. However, Crist has only been governor since 2006 and that, along with his limited appeal outside of Florida, will probably knock him out of the running.
Jim DeMint: DeMint is relatively young, feisty, is a decent speaker, and is extremely well liked by conservatives. He would be a good choice to shore up McCain’s right side. However, DeMint has yet to finish his first term in the Senate, which may keep him from getting serious consideration as Veep (He has already spent 3 terms in the House though).
Elizabeth Dole: Liddy is a little long in the tooth to be Veep, but she has actually accomplished more in her life than Hillary Clinton and would definitely have the gravitas to beat her up and take the women’s vote from Hill if she gets the nomination.
Rudy Giuliani: Ideologically, Rudy would seem to be a better match for McCain than some of the other candidates being discussed and he could campaign for McCain in the purple swing states, but having a pro-abortion moderate with a messy private life probably wouldn’t do much to paper over McCain’s problems with conservatives.
Mike Huckabee: Huckabee is dogged, charismatic, and seems to be well liked by evangelicals, but most of the same conservatives who don’t like McCain also don’t like Huckabee. So, it’s hard to imagine his adding much to the ticket aside from the sheer force of his personality. Yet and still, If Huck can stay in the race long enough and perform well enough, he may be able to force McCain to give him a VP slot in return for getting out.
Duncan Hunter: My former employer is a very conservative, experienced Republican who served in the armed forces and has enormous credibility on border issues, so he could give the ticket a boost there and help out McCain with the base. However, he didn’t do very well in the primaries, so how much of an asset he would be as Vice-President is an open question.
Kay Bailey Hutchison: She has a reputation for not being particularly conservative on life and immigration issues, although her lifetime ACU rating is a sterling 90.4%. On the other hand, she is more accomplished than Hillary and could help McCain reach out to the women’s vote.
Joe Lieberman: Picking McCain’s friend Joe Lieberman, an independent with strong foreign policy credentials, but who is weak everywhere else from a conservative point of view, would do even more damage to McCain with conservatives while burnishing his appeal to independents. Given how much trouble McCain is having with winning over conservatives, selecting Lieberman would be a particularly bad move, but you know, we are talking about “Maverick” John McCain here.
Sarah Palin: She’s the extremely popular, very attractive, very young governor of Alaska. She’s appealing and fairly conservative, but she’s a little too inexperienced for the job since she’s only been governor of Alaska since 2006.
Tim Pawlenty: Pawlenty is the governor of Minnesota, which could be a key swing state in 2008. He’s also relatively young, conservative, and endorsed McCain early on. You have to think that Pawlenty will be one of the candidates who gets a really hard look from McCain.
Mike Pence: The relatively young Indiana Congressman is a favorite with conservatives even though he is a little squishy on illegal immigration. However, although he is a good guy, he comes across as a little bit too much of a policy wonk to be an ideal choice.
Rick Perry: Texas is an important state for Republicans and Perry, who is fiscally and socially conservative, might get a looksie for that reason. The flip side of that is that McCain shouldn’t need Perry’s help to carry Texas, his weak record on immigration would be aggravating to a lot of conservatives, and he probably wouldn’t add much to the campaign nationally.
Rob Portman: Portman is a former Director of the Office of Management and Budget, a former United States Trade Representative, and he spent a decade in Congress in the key state of Ohio. He’s also a long time friend of John McCain. However, it’s doubtful whether he could reassure conservatives or swing Ohio, so it’s hard to see that he would add a lot to the ticket, despite how often his name seems to come up for the job.
Colin Powell: Powell is very moderate, a little too old to be Veep, and wouldn’t do much to excite the Republican base. However, he’s also very popular with the American people, is considerably more accomplished than Obama, and would steal a lot of Obambi’s thunder if he turns out to be the nominee.
Condi Rice: On the upside, after being Secretary of State, Condi is certainly qualified to be Vice-President and she would undercut Obama or Hillary’s “change” appeal if she’s the Veep. On the other hand, she’s very closely connected to Bush, has never run for public office before, very little is known about her domestic views, and she has turned in a less than stellar performance as Secretary of State.
Tom Ridge: Ridge is a longtime friend of McCain who spent a decade in the House, was governor of Pennsylvania, and the first United States Secretary of Homeland Security. On the other hand, he doesn’t have a reputation as a staunch conservative, he’s closely connected with Bush, and it’s doubtful that he could carry Pennsylvania. That means he would add very little to the ticket.
Mitt Romney: Although there seemed to be a surge of enthusiasm for Romney late in the game, it was more “anti-McCain” than pro-Romney and with that in mind, Romney wouldn’t seem to be a great addition as the VP. Plus, as an added bonus, McCain and Romney don’t seem to like each other very much. So, it’s hard to see McCain offering Romney the job.
Mark Sanford: The governor of South Carolina is under 50, very conservative, particularly very fiscally conservative, and could help insure that McCain holds the South. On the other hand, he has low name recognition and hopefully, McCain isn’t going to need much help holding the South.
Fred Thompson: “The Fred” would seem, at first glance, to be an intriguing pick. He generated genuine enthusiasm from the base, he’s good friends with John McCain, and he didn’t criticize McCain very often. But, he also didn’t set the world on fire when he was on the campaign trail, he ran a campaign that was way off to McCain’s right, and he’s another very old looking guy. Plus, would he really want to give up Law and Order to get back on the campaign trail for months?
John Thune: He’s a young, extremely conservative senator from South Dakota, who spent 3 terms in the House and then knocked off Tom Daschle in the 2004 election. He also campaigned hard for John McCain. His upside would be that McCain could use him as an ambassador to conservatives, but otherwise, he might not be of much help since South Dakota isn’t exactly going to be a swing state in the election.
JC Watts: He is a former football star who was also the last black Republican to serve in Congress. Additionally, Watts is well liked by conservatives and was the man who coined the phrase “race-hustling poverty pimps.” However, he does have some baggage and has been out of Congress for a few years now.
PS: Personally, if I were McCain, the three candidates I’d take a hard look at first out of this batch would be Marsha Blackburn, Tim Pawlenty, and Jim DeMint.
PS #2: Just in case you’re wondering, I left off…
* Bobby Jindal because he’s too young.
* Mel Martinez because he was born in Cuba and thus is ineligible to be President.
* Jeb Bush, because there’s no way McCain would even consider another Bush.
* Michael Steele because he hasn’t won a big election.
* Christie Todd Whitman, because she would be the weakest female pick on this list by far.
* Richard Burr, because I am not sure what he would add to the ticket that others couldn’t provide more of.
* Phil Gramm, because I think he’s much more likely to be chosen as Secretary of the Treasury than Veep.
* Newt Gingrich, because I think he would have too much baggage.
* David Petraeus & Tommy Franks, because they would add little to the ticket of a man like McCain, who has military experience.
PS #3: I added in Rick Perry and John Thune after the post originally came out.
Also see Polling Right-Of-Center Bloggers On Who’s Most Likely To Be McCain’s VP Pick (August 27, 2008)
The Hot VP Rumor Of The Moment: Sarah Palin (August 29, 2008)