Before you all start throwing tomatoes, there are principled, qualified candidates: Giuliani, Ridge, Lieberman, Kay Bailey Hutchison, to name a few, who are pro-choice. But – and this is a big BUT – McCain has spent 25 years building a pro-life voting record, and his declaration at the Saddleback Forum was a “shot heard ‘round the world”. McCain took a stand, his opponent did not. If he caved now on that issue, Democrats would call him a panderer, Republicans would call him a hypocrite, and – sadly - they’d both be right.
The balloon was floated, before the American public, grassroots leaders, and even Republican governors and bigwigs - and was promptly shot full of more holes than 50-Cent.
Today, LifeNews reports on McCain's Laura Ingraham appearance:
"I will nominate a person to be vice president, my running mate, who shares my principles, my values and my priorities," McCain said to loud applause.
In my eyes, that takes the pro-choice names above off the list.
2. Who are some candidates I should know about?
In case you live in a cave, you remember from the primaries:
- Mitt Romney – former MA governor, experienced businessman, darling of conservative pundits, bitter rivalry with McCain in the primaries
- Mike Huckabee – former Arkansas Governor, former pastor, loved by evangelicals and social conservatives, was the longest-lasting opponent to McCain in the primaries
- Fred Thompson – viewed as the ‘most conservative’ but his campaign lacked passion and clear messaging, claimed on FoxNews he ‘doesn’t want the job’
In May, I shared detailed pieces on these contenders (note updates):
- Charlie Crist – since May has become engaged.
- JC Watts – since May has commented publicly that he would consider a vote for Obama.
- Bobby Jindal – claims repeatedly he has work to do in Louisiana and ‘has the job he wants’
- Sarah Palin - recently faced a tempest-in-a-teapot scandal broken by a political enemy's blog (insert snarky discrediting comment here)
Other recent names to know:
- Tim Pawlenty – Minnesota Governor (Red Guy in Blue State), early McCain supporter, Catholic-turned-Evangelical, more conservative than McCain
- Eric Cantor – only Jewish Congressman in the House of Representatives, more Congressional experience than Obama, conservative and well-liked, from swing state Virginia
- Carly Fiorina - former HP CEO, strong business credentials, has done high-profile stumping for McCain especially among disaffected Hillary voters
3. Wait a minute – haven’t some of these people said they don’t want the job?
Without going into detail, it is fairly routine for people under consideration to pooh-pooh rumors, lest they appear self-aggrandizing. But some, like Bobby Jindal, have been consistent enough that I believe them.
4. What is “being vetted” and why is that significant?
Prospective candidates turn over 'papers' and are subjected to an inspection that would make the cast of CSI blush. Tax returns, professional affiliations, colleagues, potential conflicts of interest, family scandals (*cough*, John Edwards, *cough*), anything that could potentially damage the ticket. A candidate can be coy about being in the running, but if they're not vetted, the likelihood that they will be picked goes down dramatically. Rob Portman, for example, was buzzed about frequently, and is from Ohio where the announcement will allegedly occur, but claimed he had not 'submitted papers' which essentially means he's not on the list.
5. What are the most important things a VP should have?
Good chemistry with McCain. Integrity and backbone. Excitement and enthusiasm for McCain and his key issues. Relatability to regular people. Balance on key issues: the economy, business and leadership, foreign policy. Regional familiarity and popularity. Good public speaking and sound bite delivery ability.
6. What are the most important things a VP should NOT have?
Crazy pastors, hidden mistresses, obnoxious spouses, corrupt finances, fishy business dealings, spotty voting records, enemies. But more importantly, fundamental beliefs that contradict McCain or make him look foolish or hypocritical (see #1 above).
7. So how will this decision be made?
McCain will sit down with a beer and a Ouija Board. No, seriously, a team of ‘vetters’ (see above) have pored over information but ultimately the decision belongs to John McCain. Let’s face it, the ‘electoral calculus’ is nothing more than a lot of people guessing what 300 million Americans want. If you’re going to work 16-18 hours a day, 7 days a week for 4 years with someone, you need to feel good about who they are and what they can do. So honestly, when McCain says he hasn’t decided yet, I do believe him.
8. So who do you think it WILL be?
I have seen ‘clues’ that I consider significant. My McCainNation event featured a DVD highlighting McCain’s personal story, and included a conspicuously long clip of Tim Pawlenty.
Eric Cantor was definitely thoroughly ‘vetted’ by the team, he is from Virginia, and is conspicuous in his absence from the GOP Convention Speaking List.
Bobby Jindal has insisted up one side and down the other that he doesn’t want the job. But he is slated to speak immediately before the ‘player to be named later’ VP Pick on Wednesday night. Odd choice for a man who insists he is not the pick and doesn’t want the job, dontcha think?
9. So who do you think it SHOULD be?
If I were John McCain, I would pick Sarah Palin. Like McCain, Palin has a son in the military, built her career on fighting corruption and wasteful spending, focuses on energy policy, is a 'straight shooter.' Unlike McCain, Palin supports drilling in ANWR, posed for Vogue, and, oh, yes, is a woman. She adds leadership experience, excitement, energy focus, family emphasis (Mom of 5) and would appeal to both conservatives and independent women. The current 'Troopergate' Scandal smells fishy to me (no Alaska pun intended), I will assume McCain's vetters are thorough enough to judge its merit (or lack thereof).
Tim Pawlenty has the right positions and backstory, and would be ranked higher in my eyes except for his annoying pro-Obama comments and general boringness.
Eric Cantor would be a bold, intriguing choice. He offers the credentials conservatives are seeking and, like Obama and Palin, would break a barrier as the first Jewish Vice-President. I didn't know much about him but this is a detailed piece outlining his relationship with McCain and leadership potential.
The ‘usual suspects’ (Huckabee, Romney) would, in my opinion, open old wounds and distract from what McCain himself has to offer. They each have as many enemies as friends, which is why I think a lesser-known candidate is actually less 'risky' than a well-known candidate who is not universally-liked.
10. Why should I care?
Even if you personally don’t care who McCain picks, millions of voters do. I would vote for McCain if he ran with Spongebob. BUT I know dozens of potential McCain supporters who are still waiting for this pick before becoming actual McCain supporters. With 75 days until the election, there is no time to lose, every voice and every vote is needed.
McCain needs a VP who delivers principle, competence, reassurance, and balance. I invite you all to visit the McCain PrayerSpace, or spend a quiet moment in reflection in support of wisdom for Senator McCain.