Posted by Brad @ 12:57 pm on July 28th 2008

Veep Watch

At this point, media speculation about the VP short lists pretty much amount to a reporter talking to some campaign flak who rattles off some names of potentials, and that getting widely passed on as some kind of “official short list”. But for what it’s worth, this one claims the search for McCain is down to six:

* Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty;
* Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell;
* Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney;
* Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin;
* U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn; and
* Former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge.

With the addendum that Pawlenty and Romney are the odds on favorites.

I think we can strike Powell off the list. Note, he’s on a fair few Obama short lists as well, and I think is more the “dream pick” than somebody they’ve actually been in serious talks with. If McCain were to get him, that would be huge, of course, but I don’t know how likely that actually is. Worth noting that Powell has been mentioned on the VP shortlists of every Presidential candidate Republican or Democrat since 1996.

So too with Lieberman. A good name to float, one that would shake things up significantly, and frankly I buy that McCain would personally consider that as an ideal pairing for him (both in terms of the campaign and in terms of an actual McCain Presidency). I also think Lieberman would take it (in a heartbeat). But frankly, I just don’t know that McCain has the balls.

That leaves Ridge, Palin, Pawlenty, and Romney.

Romney we discussed here. Ridge and Pawlenty would both be pretty milquetoast by-the-books choices. Of all of them, only Palin would qualify for my “Go Big or Go Home” strategy (Powell and Lieberman certainly would). And if it’s not clear by now, she’s far and away my preferred candidate. I’m a little surprised, frankly, to see her hanging on the shortlist this deep, and the fact that she is indicates to me that the McCain campaign are really giving that one serious consideration, moreso than just her being on a list of names being spitballed.

Finally, three names are conspicuous for their absence. Bobby Jindal, Charlie Crist, and Carly Fiorina.

Fiorina has been a real possibility, I think, as sort of a settling point (in the way Cheney was). I still think she’s a real threat for a cabinet post. But, once her name started getting regularly bandied around, I think enough of the real analysts came to the conclusion (for good reasons) that she wouldn’t fly well that McCain’s team may have been convinced. She’s still a surprisingly powerful insider, and is more or less permanently on McCain’s Cool List, which bodes well for her future if he wins. But I buy she’s more or less been passed over for VP. Palin appears to have usurped her in this niche (little-known-but-highly-impressive-woman).

Crist is interesting, because while I still contend that he’s more or less unpickable (for reasons outlined in the hyperlink on his name above), I would have thought that, with his recent surprise marriage and the fact that Florida appears to be precariously close to a total tossup (something that McCain cannot afford to have happen), that he’d have been shuffled back into the deck, persistent sexuality rumors and weirdo fake tan be damned.

Jindal, as I’ve outlined, looks to have been passed over. He would have been a real real interesting choice, but frankly I’m not sorry to see him go, and I also think the “don’t rob us of our next generation star; let him stay on the vine” talk from the chattering NRO-ish class may have been a factor.

My own guess? I don’t trust that particular shortlist any more than I trust others, but I think the Top Three appears to be shaping up as Romney, Pawlenty, and Palin. Three choices that fill very different niches, and what it comes down to may well be what kind of campaign McCain wants to run.

If a potentially winning campaign is something he’s at all interested in, I’ve put in my vote. And for the record, of the three, Palin is the only one that would make me take a serious second look at the possibility of voting for McCain.


  1. Lieberman is a left wing ideologue on nearly every issue save the war. He would be a very odd choice as VP. He’d piss off the anti-war vote (more), probably not appease the GOP base because he’s a bleeding heart northeast liberal and would offer no succession path.

    Powell or Palin would be absolutely brilliant choices. Powell would be the coup of the century. He deftly avoided the stench of the Bush administration and remains immensely popular. A McCain/Powell ticket would be very interesting to say the least. He offers nothing on the domestic front, but he enjoys great popularity amongst the people of America to this day.

    I’m with you guys around here; Palin offers a future proof, exciting choice. C’mon John, pick her. Take the chance. Take the risk.

    Comment by Cameron — 7/28/2008 @ 1:17 pm

  2. Ridge would be an odd choice. Unless he was tapped to be the Duct Tape Czar.

    Comment by James — 7/28/2008 @ 1:54 pm

  3. I think we’re ignoring the main disqualifier for Palin:

    Regimes to protect Stellar Sea Lions must be based on sound science not personal agendas

    Nowhere in the Constitution does it give the federal government the right to decide who may or may not protect Stellar Sea Lions, regardless of their motive. I am personally appalled at this example of government overreach and federal micromanagement.

    And make no mistake: I WILL kill Stellar Sea Lions, and damn the man who tries to stop me.

    Comment by Rojas — 7/28/2008 @ 2:03 pm

  4. Hmmm.

    I actually went out and did some research on the aforementioned Sea Lions, and discovered that they are in fact “Steller” not “Stellar”. It is, I suppose, comforting that this particular species of marine mammal did not come from the stars, but a bit odd that a candidate would misspell the name of the species that she apparently considers important enough to list on her website.

    A subsequent visit to the Palin website from which the document was taken revealed that the spelling had been corrected there. What HASN’T been corrected is a bewildering array of spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors throughout the document. Stuff like “lightening rod” and use of the possessive “Alaskan’s” where the plural was intended. High-school level stuff.

    Admittedly, we all make mistakes of this sort here and there in our writing. Particularly Brad. But I’d like to think that an incipient candidate for Vice President of the United States would be able to, at minimum, hire a proofreader.

    Republican VP candidates can’t afford public misspellings–if only because of who they’ll be compared to.

    Comment by Rojas — 7/28/2008 @ 2:16 pm

  5. Keep in mind the first link you provided was from a draft Palin site, not her actual one. It’s possible that it was retyped, not copy and pasted over and thus the error was not Palin’s.

    As I was browsing your second link, I saw the subject header “GASLINE” and had to think twice about whether it was some horrible misspelling of gasoline or some sort of gas carrying line issue. Thankfully it was the latter.

    Comment by Cameron — 7/28/2008 @ 2:23 pm

  6. It’s Alaska for crying out loud. Do you guys have any idea how hard it is to type with mittens on?

    Comment by James — 7/28/2008 @ 2:38 pm

  7. Romney we discussed here. Ridge and Pawlenty would both be pretty milquetoast by-the-books choices.

    Ridge would be a big deal because of the abortion thing. Indeed, I saw McCain sort of rule Ridge out when Chris Matthews was on that college debate tour thing over that issue, so it’d be a sign that he really doesn’t want to enthuse the base (which might be wise, given that there’s not much chance that he can enthuse the base of his own accord; he needs Obama to do that for him).

    Comment by Adam — 7/28/2008 @ 3:30 pm

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