Monday, May 26, 2008

McCain's Memorial Day Weekend Guests

Sen. John McCain has been spending the Memorial Day weekend at his Arizona ranch -- with three potential running mates.

His guests for the weekend were Mitt Romney, Bobby Jindal and Charlie Crist.

All three have been mentioned as prospects for the vice presidency. I don't think any of them fit the bill.

And no clues were forthcoming from the gathering, which apparently wrapped up on Sunday.

"The McCain campaign was tight-lipped about the agenda for the weekend, which aides described as purely social," reports Michael Falcone in the New York Times.

  • It isn't necessary for the candidates on the ticket to get along, but in McCain's case, I think it's pretty important.

    There have been rumblings in the media about problems the senator has with anger management. And it was pretty clear during the Republican campaign that he and Romney don't get along.

    So, although Romney has the economic credentials that McCain lacks -- as well as the ready support of many social conservatives who have been lukewarm to McCain's candidacy and ample financial backing -- I don't think he's right for the spot.

    I just can't see McCain and Romney forging a strong working relationship.

  • Jindal provides the youth (he'll be 37 in about two weeks) to contrast with McCain's age (72 before the GOP convention).

    But the flip side to Jindal's youth is the absence of experience. Jindal was elected to two terms in the House of Representatives before being elected governor of Louisiana last year.

    He's off to a strong start in his efforts to reform the state's government -- but that's a long-term project.

    Jindal's been in office for, what, half an hour?

    He can afford to put any national ambitions he may have on the back burner until he has some solid accomplishments to add to his résumé.

  • Crist (pictured above) is a contradictory sort.

    His support for McCain apparently helped the Arizona senator seal the deal in the Florida primary, which led to Rudy Giuliani's withdrawal from the race in late January.

    And we all learned how vital Florida's support can be during the recount in 2000.

    But, if McCain is going to give serious consideration to Crist as a running mate, he needs to clear the air of the persistent rumors about Crist's sexual orientation.

    As I understand it, there has been talk about Crist being gay for quite awhile.

    Talk that has been reported in journalistic circles.

    Sexual orientation may not work against Crist in state politics, but rumors that he is gay won't help McCain win over the social conservatives who have resisted him, even after clinching the nomination.
    Here's a partial list of some of the sources of things that have been written on the subject of Crist's sexuality:

  1. Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, March 2008.

  2. Orlando Sentinel, February 2008.

  3. Broward-Palm Beach New Times, October 2006.

  4. Online Journal, October 2006.

  5. Orlando Weekly, September 2006.

  6. St. Petersburg Times, January 2005.

I've heard a number of intriguing possibilities brought up, and the three men who spent the weekend with McCain haven't been included on hot prospect lists very often.

The most frequently mentioned names that I've heard are people like Condoleezza Rice, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Joe Lieberman.

I think Rice is too intimately connected to the Bush administration's policies. Pawlenty has said he is committed to his work as governor. And, although Lieberman has been a strong supporter of McCain's presidential bid, the only issue on which the two men seem to share the same opinion is the war.

McCain doesn't need another "Me, too!" voice in support of the Iraq War.

Personally, I still think J.C. Watts is McCain's best choice -- for a number of reasons.

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