McCain May Act Soon on VP Pick

As Barack Obama delivered a high-profile speech in Berlin, Republican rival John McCain lunched on bratwurst in a German restaurant in Ohio. Video by AP
By Michael D. Shear and Robert Barnes
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, July 25, 2008

Anxious to counter the blanket media coverage that has followed Sen. Barack Obama on his overseas journey, Sen. John McCain is weighing whether to announce his running mate in the coming weeks before the spotlight shifts to China and the opening of the Olympic Games next month.

"He's in a position to make [the decision] on short notice if he wanted to," said Charles R. Black Jr., one of McCain's top political advisers.

Two top aides to the presumptive Republican nominee said the decision is likely to be announced after Obama returns from Europe on Sunday and before the Beijing Olympics begin Aug. 8. They said the campaign fears that unanticipated events coming out of China -- whether in the form of athletic accomplishments or human rights protests -- could deflect attention from the announcement if it were made during the Games.

The Olympics conclude the day before the Democratic nominating convention opens in Denver, and the GOP convention begins in Minneapolis-St. Paul just four days after the Democratic gathering ends.

Aides to the most likely candidates to join McCain on the ticket, meanwhile, offered terse "no comment" replies when asked whether they have been asked to provide documents that the campaign can use to vet backgrounds.

The list of likely contenders includes former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former U.S. budget director Rob Portman and former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge.

Asked several questions about the selection process, Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom repeatedly declined to comment. Representatives for Portman, Jindal and Pawlenty also would not say whether they have provided documents to McCain aides.

Ridge, a close friend of McCain's, said in an interview that he has had no conversations with the senator or his staff about being a running mate.

"I have not. I can only be interested if John is," Ridge said Tuesday. "I'm not lobbying for it. I'm not seeking it."

Ridge, who was first elected to Congress in 1982, at the same time McCain came to Washington, bonded with the Arizona Republican as a fellow Vietnam War veteran. He has been considered as a potential running mate before, providing vetting documents during the 2000 campaign to Richard B. Cheney, who was handling the selection process for then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush.

In the end, it was Cheney who was chosen.

This year, McCain has tapped Arthur B. Culvahouse Jr., chairman of the Washington law firm O'Melveny & Meyers and a counsel to President Ronald Reagan, to oversee the selection of a running mate. Culvahouse has declined requests to comment, and McCain has been circumspect on the topic.

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