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Veep Sheet: We Have Timetables!

After John McCain told The Weekly Standard's Steve Hayes last week that he would consider a pro-abortion-rights running mate, most Republicans thought the trial balloon had yielded a clear message: Don't even think about it.

"That balloon is in tatters," a McCain adviser said;.

But McCain apparently has not given up on the idea, and his staff continues to lay groundwork for that possiblity, according to a conversation-driving Rich Lowry "VP Alert" post on National Review's "The Corner":

"NR has learned that the McCain campaign has been calling key state GOP officials around the country the last couple of days and sounding them out about the consequences of a pro-choice VP pick. The campaign is asking about the reaction of conservative grass-roots activists to such a pick and whether a pro-choicer can be sold to them. This is an indication that the McCain campaign is serious about the possibility of a pro-choice VP nominee and that McCain leaving the door open to Tom Ridge last week may not have been merely a friendly nod to a longtime supporter. In this scenario, McCain's emphatic pro-life statements Saturday night and his pledge that he'll run a 'pro-life administration' would have been partly an attempt to reassure conservatives in the event of a pro-choice pick."


Campaign sources tell us that McCain will name his vice president on Aug. 29, the day after Barack Obama accepts the Democratic nomination in Denver.

McCain’s announcement will come in the battleground state of Ohio, where economic issues are crucially important and where McCain has been under attack lately for his role in awarding a contract to foreign shipper DHL.

Does this point to an economic policy wonk? Someone from the business world? An Ohio native?

The New York Times also confirms what everyone with a calendar suspected: Obama’s running mate will be revealed much sooner, before the end of this week.

The identity of the two candidates’ running mates remains a mystery — but here’s what’s going on with some of the top prospects.

As Obama narrows down his list, one guy’s keeping a conspicuously high profile: Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, who’s back from Georgia — with something other than love.

“With his name still buzzing among the vice presidential prognosticators, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. returned tonight from the former Soviet Republic of Georgia talking trash, but his target was not Sen. John McCain or even President Bush,” the Washington Post reports, “It was Russia.”

“Biden’s prominent role in the speculation over Sen. Barack Obama’s choice for running mate stems from his heft in foreign policy, but it also comes from a belief in Democratic circles that Biden will do what the other vice presidential finalists — and to some extent Obama himself — will not do: Fight back hard.”

In other words, Biden’s going about his vice presidential audition — if indeed he’s still under consideration — by doing what he does best: throwing rhetorical punches, talking foreign policy and looking very confident.

If Obama wants a running mate who can look tough on Day One, he could do worse than to have this image circulating.

Another rumored vice presidential finalist, Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, is focused a little closer to home these days, as Virginia hits yet another budgetary snag.

“Gov. Timothy M. Kaine says Virginia’s revenue forecast is bleak and will require more and deeper spending cuts,” the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.

“Kaine isn’t saying where he’ll cut, only that programs spared reductions previously are on the block.”

Not exactly the kind of governing you wnt to do as you’re running for vice president. And by the way, did anyone catch the Times-Dispatch’s report that what Kaine really wants is to run Virginia Commonwealth University?

A longer-shot vice presidential hopeful, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, won a victory in his home state this week as his legislature passed a version of a child care law Richardson hoped to enact in a special legislative session.

According to the Las Cruces Sun-News, legislators are also working with Richardson to expand child health care coverage and tax rebates. Tack that on to Richardson’s foreign policy street cred and you’ve got a pretty good profile for a Democratic vice president. 

Chris Dodd got some love from Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, who calls Dodd his “No. 1 pick” in an interview with the Iowa Independent. Harkin’s also down on Hillary Rodham Clinton’s chances of joining the ticket:

“‘[T]here’s a lot of latent racism and sexism in this country. ... [I]f you have an African-American running and you add a woman on, you add racism and sexism together. That’s a pretty steep hill to climb,’” Harkin said.

Seems like the Iowan wouldn’t be too bullish on Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius or Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill’s odds, either.

Sebelius is keeping up a serious travel schedule, though, stopping in Michigan today to launch Michigan Women for Obama.

One of Barack Obama’s wise men, former Georgia Sen. Sam Nunn, sat down with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution to talk about the other Georgia. Nunn sounded less than sanguine about his chances of joining the ticket.

“‘All I know is what I read in the newspapers,’” Nunn said.

Asked if he had submitted vetting papers, Nunn replied: “‘The only person who’s asking about my assets, my liabilities, the way I’m spending my money, where that money is coming from, primarily, is my wife.’”

So maybe it’s the cabinet for Nunn, instead.

On the GOP side, the man of the hour, former Homeland Security secretary and Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, who made waves on Sunday talking about the prospect of McCain tapping a pro-abortion-rights veep, was far from home on Monday — visiting the National Infantry Museum in Columbus, Ga.

Ridge was tight-lipped about his odds of joining the ticket:

“‘Candidly, there will come a point in time for a final decision,’ Ridge said. ‘At the time, I’ll know what the decision is and I will think about it.’”

Doesn’t sound like Ridge is out of the running.

On the stump in the upper Midwest, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty hammered Obama on energy. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports:

“If elected president, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama would ‘slam the door shut’ on new nuclear generating plants, Pawlenty said.

Pawlenty again refused to discuss whether McCain will pick him as his vice presidential nominee, saying he has learned that every time he discusses that possibility, it leads to speculation.”

What did he think a surrogate stint in potential swing state Wisconsin would do?

Speaking of swing state surrogates, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist has a busy media schedule this week with the approach of Tropical Storm/Hurricane Fay. From the St. Petersburg Times last night:

“He was on CNN this afternoon with Wolf Blitzer, and the buzz is he’s got as many as nine television interviews tentatively set up Tuesday morning ... which includes national and local TV appearances.”

No one wants to play politics with a storm, but this will mark a reemergence for Crist — who’s been oddly quiet since announcing his engagement last month.

Is another Gulf state governor, Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal, getting a cold shoulder? Or is he giving one? Louisianarsquo;s KATC station reports that McCain will be visiting Louisiana today, but this time he and Jindal aren’t meeting up.

“‘Their schedules aren’t going to work this time,’ said Melissa Sellers, Jindal’s press secretary.”

KATC notes that this trip is a rescheduling of McCain’s canceled trip to the Gulf earlier this summer, when the presumptive GOP nominee abruptly backed out of a planned appearance at a Louisiana oil rig.
A few other GOP veep prospects made news in their home states, with Govs. Mark Sanford of South Carolina and Jon Huntsman of Utah, as well as South Dakota Sen. John Thune, were spotted with McCain at the Aspen Institute.