In selecting a Vice Presidential running mate, a simple rule applies: First, do no harm. No one will vote FOR you because of your running mate. But they might vote AGAINST you because of your number two.
Don't choose somebody who compounds a weakness. John McCain is seen by some as too old for the job. So he should not choose former Senator Phil Gramm. "Grumpy Old Men" was a hit. "Grumpy Old Party"? Not so much.
On the other hand, critics say Barack Obama is heavy on showmanship - a rock star, yes, but lacking in experience. Which is why he should not tap Jon Non Jovi. There are other ways to appeal to white working class voters.
Don't choose someone who might want to undermine or hurt you in any way … which is why Obama should not choose Jesse Jackson. Ouch.
Whatever you do, do not alienate your base. Obama should not choose Republican Chuck Hagel since he's, well, from the opposing party. McCain should resist the charms of Democrat-turned-Independent Joe Lieberman.
McCain's task is trickier on this score. He needs to distance himself from President Bush, which is why he should nix brother Jeb from his list. But he can't be seen as rejecting the Bush name altogether … which is why Billy Bush could be an option.
Don't choose somebody who tries to do your job, a Vice President Buttinsky. Obama should not ask Hillary Clinton to join the ticket … unless he wants a knock on the Oval Office door every five minutes. First it's Hillary "checking in," then it's Bill "dropping by to say 'Hi,'" then it's Hillary with a State of the Union rewrite, then it's Bill back to say "Hi" again …
Most importantly, don't choose somebody whose name is going to sound funny with yours. This is why Obama should not choose Arizona's Governor Janet Napolitano: Obama-Napolitano sounds too much like a coffee drink ("I'll take a venti Obama Napolitano with soy, thanks") or like a Rosemary Clooney song ("O-ba-ma, O-ba-ma Na-po-li-taaaaaa-no!").
Likewise, McCain cannot choose Rep. Mary Fallin of Oklahoma. "McCain-Fallin" … and he can't get up! At that point you're just throwing the game.
So who should they choose? Someone energetic, loyal and uncontroversial. Try Match.com. But insist on seeing a picture. You'll be seen together a lot …
… well, at least before November.