McCain should choose younger running mate

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    Correction: The following column should have said if Sen. John McCain “can recruit a female running mate, he may pick up votes from those undecided voters who would like to see a diverse ticket, but may be disenchanted with the Democratic Party’s nomination process.” The meaning of the sentence was incorrect due to an editing error.

    John McCain announced Wednesday that he has compiled a list of 20 people he is considering for the No. 2 spot on the Republican ticket, though he is not releasing names.

    While the Arizona senator and likely Republican nominee need not worry about choosing a running mate at this point in the campaign, McCain and his handlers must consider several qualifications when narrowing the list.

    McCain’s vice presidential running mate should be both fiscally and socially conservative. Many Republicans have been turned off by McCain’s moderate (and sometimes left of center) stance on several issues, including tax cuts and immigration. Choosing a running mate with a consistently conservative voting record is key to winning over Republican conservatives.

    His vice presidential candidate should be young. McCain’s age – he will turn 72 on Inauguration Day – can’t be ignored. Although he does appeal to young Republicans, his war-hero persona may not be familiar to many of them – it was simply too long ago.

    McCain could benefit by running with a woman. The Democratic nominee will either be Sens. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., or Barack Obama, D-Ill., who are still battling for every vote. If McCain can recruit a female running mate, he may pick up votes from undecided voters who would like to see a diverse ticket. But he may also become disenchanted with the Democratic Party’s nomination process.

    He needs a running mate who could be president. Again, McCain’s age is a factor here. Should he not be able to fulfill an entire term, his second-in-command should be capable of stepping in and ably leading the nation.

    So, who’s it going to be? At this point, it’s up in the air, but there are a few names that have popped up.

    Minnesota’s governor, Tim Pawlenty, has received plenty of mentions. He has served as co-chairman of McCain’s campaign, and has been lauded as the most conservative Minnesota governor in 80 years, according to a column in The Washington Post. At 47, Pawlenty fits the bill.

    Charlie Crist, governor of Florida, is another name that has come up. He campaigned with McCain in Florida and helped the senator secure the state’s delegates over Rudy Giuliani, who did most of his campaign spending in the Sunshine State. Crist’s campaign for governor was centered on a conservative family-values platform, and at 51, he is also young enough to be on the bill.

    Former Republican rival Mike Huckabee could be on McCain’s list. Huckabee, 52, has a strong reputation as a conservative. He has advocated a border fence, supports the Iraq War, and is socially conservative. As a former Arkansas governor, Huckabee has demonstrated leadership abilities. His extreme views on many social issues and his tenure as a Southern Baptist preacher could work against him, though.

    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is another contender. Rice, 54, is familiar with the inner workings of the White House and has maintained her foothold in world affairs. Her knowledge of foreign policy and her support of anti-terror measures can assure her support among those concerned with national security. Her involvement in the Iraq War, however, could be her undoing.

    Kara Peterson is an advertising/public relations graduate student from Fort Worth.