Sunday, February 17, 2008

Who Will McCain Choose As His Running Mate: The Charmer Or The Quarterback?

The debate surrounding McCain's likely choices for a running mate has been drawing a lot of speculation on the right in recent days. There have been a lot of interesting, and in some cases even exciting, names thrown out there as possibilities. Early on there was talk about Romney or Huckabee filling the slot but McCain really doesn't like Mitt and that acrimony, combined with their divergent policies, would be more than enough to make for an awkward campaign. On the other hand, Huck shares some of McCain's more centrist convictions but would do little to nothing to satisfy the socially and fiscally conservative base that simply cannot be left behind for this election to yield a Republican to the White House.

Although a lot of other names have been proposed for the slot, two in particular jumped out at me as the most probable choices. These are Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and former Oklahoma congressman J.C. Watts.

Vin Weber outlines why we might be seeing Pawlenty's name of the ticket in a Jonathan Martin article at Politico:

“First of all, his age is attractive,” Weber says, hinting at the nearly quarter-century difference between his fellow Minnesotan and the 71-year-old McCain. “Second, he’s from outside Washington. Third, he represents a battleground part of the country. And he has a nice balance of, on one hand being totally acceptable to conservative wing of the party, especially to social conservatives, but at the same time sharing a couple of key maverick strains of thought with McCain.”

Although you hate to bring it up, the age factor will probably be a central issue in the federal campaign. McCain is not a young man and Pawlenty's youth, coupled with his social conservatism and his strong stance on immigration, may go a long way towards convincing some of the Ann Coulter "I'd vote for Hillary before McCain" social conservatives to fall in line to keep the Democratic candidate out of office.

The article continues:

Declining to say how she got wind of the story, Taylor lavished praise on Pawlenty. "By far, he's the strongest candidate" to serve as McCain's running mate, she said.

"He's a conservative, rock-n-roll Republican and is counterintuitive to the party stereotype that we're old and rich,” says Taylor, who recalled visiting St. Paul and finding the governor jamming in his office to recording artist Bruce Springsteen. “He's young and blue-collar."

And, Taylor said, in a potential race against the 46-year-old Barack Obama, Pawlenty would be "as good as our party has for that [match-up].


“Politically, he’s pretty skilled, no question about it,” says Moe, who lost in a three-way gubernatorial race to Pawlenty in 2002. “He’s a bright guy and very charming, no question about it.”

Another name being tossed around is that of J.C. Watts, best known in Canada as the former quarterback and Grey Cup MVP for the CFL's Ottawa Rough Riders. The possibility of Watts as the Mav's running mate was mentioned over at the Halls of Macademia earlier today. The arguments for Watts filling the veep slot are strong.

The National Post elaborates:

Mr. Watts used to be considered a rising star in the party, and delivered a highly praised speech on character at the 1996 Republican national convention. He was selected to deliver his party's response to president Bill Clinton's State of the Union Address in 1997, and addressed the nation after Mr. Clinton's impeachment in 1998.

Now he is a multi-millionaire, running a variety of businesses, including selling John Deere tractors in Texas, offering companies strategies for business development, communications and public affairs, and lobbying government for small businesses, Fortune 500 companies, trade groups and historically black colleges and universities.

An outspoken conservative who once worked as a youth minister and associate pastor with the Southern Baptist Church, Mr. Watts has a congressional record sponsoring tax incentives for businesses in low-income areas. He also helped write U.S. President George W. Bush's "faith-based initiative," which was a key domestic part of his "compassionate conservatism.


The 51-year-old has courted controversy in the past by chastising some black Democrats and civil-rights leaders as "race-hustling poverty pimps."

Like Mr. McCain, he has not hesitated to speak his mind and criticize his own party's leaders."

Watts has been the source of quite a bit of controversy in his day and so would also bring a few of the maverick qualities - as well as the youth - that McCain will likely be looking for in a running mate.

A lot of other, less likely, names are getting attention too, including Condi Rice and, ridiculously, Joe Lieberman. All considered, Watts and Pawlenty seem to be in prime position for the slot. Only time will tell.

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