There's a lull here at CPAC today. It seems the major headline events have all happened. Romney withdrew, McCain made nice, and President Bush spoke. What else is there?
The official agenda is crowded, so there are plenty of things to keep conservative activists occupied. Outside the conference halls however, the chatter has already turned to whom John McCain will select as his vice presidential nominee. The discussion is partially fueled by Pat Toomey's column on the subject, as well as the speculation by people like our own Stephen Hayes and Fred Barnes, and Glenn Reynolds.
First off, there's no confidence that John McCain will focus on selecting a nominee that appeals to conservatives. Most believe that McCain needs to select a conservative if he wants to win, but not all agree that he'll see it that way. Second, most here are discounting the chances of another senator getting the nod. It's hard enough to believe that a Senator is about to be elected to the White House; it hasn't happened in nearly 50 years. The possibility of two getting elected on the same ticket isn't really on anyone's mind.
Beyond that, there's a feeling that the list of possible selections is relatively short. The names bandied about the most are Mark Sanford and Tim Pawlenty, with the occasional mention of Haley Barbour -- all conservative governors with the ability to appeal to fiscal and social conservatives. None of them seems to excite anyone -- at least not yet, but everyone here seems to agree that any one would be acceptable.
The other wild card names that have popped up, and which might get some traction in the weeks and months ahead: former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele, current OMB Director Jim Nussle, former Ohio Congressman Rob Portman (who might bring a critical state into the GOP column), and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin whose relative youth and short tenure in office hurt her chances.
Updated: Numerous readers have emailed to point out the fact that we have misidentified the carcass in the picture:
Jeez! You city slickers. The critter that Sarah Palin is shown with that she just killed is a caribou and not a deer. Caribou and reindeer are just about the same I think. You *might* say that she just shot Donner or Blixen. Oh, my.
City slickers we are.