The GOP Veepstakes

What's George W. Bush to do about a running mate?

The two most popular choices – Colin Powell and John McCain – insist they're not interested in the job. And even if they changed their minds, both men could be found guilty of the ultimate vice presidential faux pas: overshadowing their boss.

Bush says he wants a partner who's qualified to be president and who he's compatible with personally and philosophically.

That would seem to rule out two popular, moderate East Coast governors, Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania and Christie Todd Whitman of New Jersey, whose pro-abortion rights views run counter to Bush's own.

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Would the Texas governor, who hasn't made abortion a central concern in his campaign, dare to buck the party platform for the sake of expanding the GOP's tent on the always controversial abortion issue? He might – but that runs the risk of alienating conservative voters and perhaps driving some of them into the waiting arms of the Reform Party's right-wing firebrand, Pat Buchanan.

That leaves a wide-open field, mostly governors and senators, for Bush to choose from. Here they are:

Richard Cheney
Advisor to George W. Bush and CEO of Texas-based Halliburton Company, 59. Former Secretary of Defense under George Bush. Served five terms in Congress for Wyoming. Former White house chief of staff under Gerald Ford.

Pro: Involved in White house politics for over 30 years. Well-versed in foreign affairs and defense issues. Has served in the George Bush administration.
Con: Health problems. Not charismatic.

William Cohen
Secretary of Defense, 59. Former three-term Republican senator from Maine. Also served three terms in the House of Representatives. Co-authored a novel with former Colorado Senator Gary Hart.

Pro: International stature. Well-versed in foreign affairs and defense issues. Has served in the Clinton-Gore administration.
Con: From a small state. Not charismatic. Has served in the Clinton-Gore administration.

Elizabeth Dole
Former Secretary of Labor and Secretary of Transportation, 63. Served as president of the Red Cross from 1991 to 1999. Candidate for Republican presidential nomination until last October.

Pro: Female. Believes the GOP should be inclusive on abortion issue, but still has good ties to the Christian right.
Con: Ran a disappointing presidential campaign. From North Carolina but thought of as a Washington insider.

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Governor of Michigan, 51. Enacted a tough welfare reform bill in Michigan and cut state taxes. Heads up Bush's Michigan campaign organization.

Pro: Catholic. Strong welfare reformer and tax-cutter. Championed charter schools and increased education spending. From an important electoral state.
Con: Played key role in Bush's primary defeat in Michigan. Deferred from the draft because he was overweight. Career politician. Considered mean-spirited by some for attempts at cutting welfare. Ended aid to the arts. Not a dynamic campaigner. Had a messy divorce from his first wife.

Bill Frist
U.S. senator from Tennessee, 48. A former surgeon and director of the Vanderbilt Medical Center Heart-Lung Transplant Program. Helped draft and pass legislation establishing health-care portability and creating a patients' bill of rights.

Pro: Citizen politician. Supports term limits. From Gore's home state of Tennessee, which may be in play.
Con: Not a major leader in the Senate. While in medical school, he used cats obtained from a shelter for experiments.

Chuck Hagel
U.S. Senator from Nebraska, 53. Headed five private sector firms from 1983-1995. Former deputy administrator of the Veterans Administration.

Pro: Well respected on foreign policy. Self-made millionaire. Volunteered for service in Vietnam and won two Purple Hearts.
Con: Served as national co-chair for John McCain's presidential campaign. Loyalty to Bush may be questioned. From a small, solidly Republican state.

John Kasich
U.S. congressman from Ohio, 47. Chairman of House Budget Committee. Briefly a candidate for GOP presidential nomination, before dropping out and endorsing Bush. Announced last July that he would not run for reelection in 2000.

Pro: Deficit hawk. Good campaigner and debater. Supported President Clinton's assault weapons ban and 1994 crime bill. Son of a mailman and has appeal to blue-collar voters. Considered by Majority Leader Trent Lott to be the best GOP candidate for vice president.
Con: Close ties to Newt Gingrich. Career politician.

Frank Keating
Governor of Oklahoma, 56. Held various positions with Departments of Justice, Treasury and HUD. Also a former state senator, state representative and FBI agent.

Pro: Catholic. Strong law enforcement record. Hailed for relief and rescue efforts after Oklahoma City bombing. Passed largest tax cut in Oklahoma history and cut welfare by 58 percent. Works comfortably with Democrats.
Con: From a small, solidly Republican state in Gov. Bush's home region.

Richard Lugar
U.S. Senator from Indiana, 67. Still runs family farm. Former mayor of Indianapolis. Ran for president in 1996. Currently the number two Republican on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee where he often openly disagrees with GOP Chair Jesse Helms.

Pro: Foreign policy expert. Reputation for integrity. Served in the Navy. Rhodes scholar. Partially responsible for 1996 Freedom to Farm Act. Known for stubborn conviction.
Con: Not a new face. His moderation can make him appear lackluster.

John McCain
U.S. senator from Arizona, 63. Bush's main rival for the GOP nomination until he suspended his candidacy in March. Currently chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee. Highly decorated Naval aviator and former P.O.W. in Vietnam. Has repeatedly expressed disinterest in the vice-presidential post, describing its duties as "attending the funerals of obscure foreign leaders and inquiring daily about the president's health."

Pro: Large, devoted following. Known reformer with an independent streak. War hero. Good campaigner. Knows foreign policy. Integrity.
Con: Often nasty primary battles with Bush. Known for his temper and disagreements with party leaders. From small, solidly Republican state. Angered Christian conservatives with "Agents of Intolerance" speech. Says he's not interested.

George Pataki
Governor of New York, 54. Won national attention by defeating three-term Democratic Gov. Mario Cuomo in 1994. Former member of the New York State Senate and Assembly, and mayor of Peekskill, N.Y. Bush's New York state campaign chairman.

Pro: From nation's second largest state. Might make a Senate win harder for Hillary Clinton. Catholic. Grandson of immigrants. Signed the death penalty into law. Pro-choice but opposes late-term abortions.
Con: Quiet, languid speaking style. Might not be strong enough to ensure a New York win for Bush.

Colin Powell
Retired Army General and former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 62. Currently serves as chairman of America's Promise, a national nonprofit dedicated to youth development. Commanded U.S. troops during Gulf War; assistant for national security affairs under President Reagan. Declined to run for president in 1995 despite well-organized movement to draft him.

Pro: Reputation for integrity. Exceptional military record. Would be first African-American on ticket of either party.
Con: Conservatives strongly oppose his views on affirmative action and abortion. Says he's not interested in holding elected office but would consider a Cabinet appointment.

Tom Ridge
Governor of Pennsylvania, 54. Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1983. Served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam. Moderate on numerous issues, including the environment and abortion rights.

Pro: From a key state. Catholic. Strong fund-raiser. Pro-choice but opposes so-called partial birth abortions. Distinguished military record. Friend of Bush's for 20 years. Known as a welfare and eduction reformer, tax-cutter and tough crime-fighter.
Con: Pro-choice stance may not be acceptable to Christian conservatives.

Fred Thompson
U.S. Senator from Tennessee, 57. Chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, which investigated Clinton-Gore fund-raising practices. Served as Counsel to the Senate Intelligence, Foreign Relations and Watergate Committees. An occasional actor, Thompson has appeared in over 20 movies, including In the Line of Fire, Hunt for Red October and Die Hard 2.

Pro: Strong reform advocate. Magnetic personality, good speaker. Has been willing to cast unpopular votes. Worked his way through school, with young children.
Con: Originally supported John McCain; loyalty to Bush may be questioned. Unimpressive legislative record.

Tommy Thompson
Governor of Wisconsin, 58. Best known for his welfare reform efforts, cutting the welfare rolls from over 100,000 families a decade ago to 9,000 in 1999. Flirted with the idea of running for president but decided in March of 1999 that he had little chance of winning.

Pro: From a key Midwestern state. Known welfare reformer and tax cutter. Catholic. Strong supporter of charter schools and vouchers. Known for diligence, good political instincts and common touch. Has pushed through several large environmental proposals.
Con: From a small (though swing) state. Not a strong national campaigner. as passed over by Bob Dole in 1996.

George Voinovich
U.S. Senator from Ohio, 63. Former governor of Ohio and mayor of Cleveland.

Pro: Catholic. From a key electoral state. Known welfare and Medicaid reformer. Raised in an ethnic, industrial area. Works well with Democrats. Opposes abortion but recognizes Roe v. Wade.
Con: Raised taxes as governor. Career politician.

Christine Todd Whitman
Governor of New Jersey, 53. Lost by only three percentage points to incumbent Sen. Bill Bradley in 1993. As governor, she cut taxes and passed tough crime legislation. Moderate on social issues like abortion and affirmative action.

Pro: Female. From a key swing state. Has a reputation as a tax-cutter and welfare reformer.
Con: 1997 veto of ban on late-term abortions could anger Christian conservatives. Recently unearthed photo shows her frisking a black man while on patrol with New Jersey state troopers.