A South Carolina blog claims to have seen the five names on John McCain’s short list for Vice President: Joe Lieberman, Charlie Crist, Tim Pawlenty, Haley Barbour, and Marsha Blackburn.
Blackburn would certainly be a good choice to help consolidate some of the Talk Radio Conservative who claim that they’re going to sit out the election rather than vote for John McCain. The Tennessee Republican congressman is fiscally conservative, strong on illegal immigration, and a supporter of victory in Iraq. She is also a scrappy fighter who came to prominence as a Tennessee State Senator who spearheaded the successful fight to stop a state income tax proposed by a Republican governor, and then emerged successfully from a heated primary over two better-funded candidates to win her first term in Congress in 2002. Blackburn is also a darling of Talk Radio Conservatives and frequent guest on their shows.
The blog claims that the McCain campaign is also considering a “secure the center” strategy which would allegedly put 27 states, instead of the usual 12 to 14, into play for Republicans in November. The leaked memo claims that
. . . the inevitable outcry such a centrist strategy would bring from conservative talking heads like Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh, noting at one point that their “vocal indignation” would actually help attract the more moderate voters McCain is targeting.
Rush Limbaugh agrees, saying just last week that his criticism of McCain helps his strategy of peeling votes away from Democrats disenchanted by the bitter fight on their side:
McCain wants criticism from me. He’s going after Democrats and independents, not conservatives. And if he wants those votes, the best thing that could happen is for me to criticize.
It’s a good strategy–particularly against Barack Obama, who is so far left of center that his nomination would leave America’s political middle completely vulnerable to Republican conquest. But if that is his strategy it probably means that Blackburn won’t be McCain’s veep choice.
John McCain’s advantage in all this is that he doesn’t have to choose which route to take until after the Democratic nominating process has played itself out. If somehow Democrats do manage to make amends by the end of their August convention then McCain will likely choose a traditional “secure the base” strategy, in which case Blackburn is the perfect choice. If however, the bitterness and division still exists in the Democratic Party after a divisive convention, then McCain has a great opportunity for a landslide by capturing the middle. Joe Lieberman and Tim Pawlenty could be better choices under that scenario.