After winning their party’s nomination, but before giving their formal acceptance speech at the convention, there is one major job that must be completed – the selection of a running mate. And, according to more than one source, the McCain campaign has finally started this process. While I won’t pretend to have inside knowledge of the McCain campaign, there are generally a few criteria for choosing a VP:
Ideological balance – This isn’t always the case, but sometimes a Conservative or moderate nominee will choose a VP of the opposite view to make the ticket appeal to the widest possible audience. In the case of McCain, this would mean a Conservative VP.
Party Unity – This is similar to #1, but is aimed more at solidifying support from the nominee’s own party first. Generall this comes in the form of a ticket composed of the first-place and second-place finishers in the primary. This is the Reagan-Bush ticket, and in this case, would lead to Romney, or, depending on which delegate count you use, Huckabee being place on the ticket.
Experience / Knowledge of Issues – We saw this with President Bush, who selected Cheney to help add some foreign policy experience to the ticket. In some cases, a nominee will choose a VP who is strong on issues were they are weak. For McCain, this would probably mean a running mate with experience on economic matter or even social issues (where McCain’s record is basically Conservative, but his enthusiasm is limited).
Regional Balance – Priority number one for any politican is winning, and for a Presidential candidate that means getting to 270 electoral votes. Its not unusual for nominee’s to take into this fact into account when choosing a VP, picking a candidate from a different region who can, once again, increase the appeal of the ticket to the most people.
In addition to those criteria, McCain may also take into consideration the age of a candidate, their ability to raise funds, their popularity with the base, and/or their ability to be the Republican nominee in four years, in the event McCain decides to step down at that time – as many believe he will.
At this point, I’m not going to speculate about the names on the list, though I think there five or six people who a