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JoeMentum?

6:55 PM, Aug 19, 2008 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
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Very interesting Politico article from Jonathan Martin, Mike Allen and Alexander Burns. In short, they say that Joe Lieberman is a serious contender to be John McCain's running mate. Their reporting is consistent with everything I've been hearing. My basic take: If McCain were making the decision alone, and without regard to party and politics, he would choose Lieberman. McCain believes the war -- broadly understood -- matters more than anything and Lieberman understands the war and how to win it better than virtually anyone. He is more comfortable with Lieberman than any of the other VP finalists. And Lieberman is definitely interested in the job.

But McCain is not making the decision in a vacuum. And many of his advisers believe Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty is the best pick -- both because he would be acceptable to the Republican base and he is a fresh face who cuts into Barack Obama's "change" message.

When McCain talked to me last week about the possibility that he would choose a pro-choice running mate, he specifically mentioned Tom Ridge. Although Ridge had been under serious consideration in the days leading up to our conversation, I thought it much more likely that McCain was testing a prospective Lieberman pick than a Ridge pick. (I inadvertently left out of that first story one interesting detail: Lieberman was sitting directly in front of me and McCain when we talked about a pro-choice running mate.) The previous day ABC's Jan Crawford Greenburg interviewed Lieberman. Their discussion was fascinating for several reasons, not least of which was Lieberman's comment that he had not spoken with McCain about serving as his runningmate.

A final point: A couple weeks back -- before McCain talked about picking a pro-choice running mate -- one senior McCain adviser told me that it would be a mistake to discount Rudy Giuliani. So I haven't, though I still find that possibility a long-shot.

As the Politico piece makes clear, Lieberman is still under very active consideration and it would not be a big surprise if Lieberman was the pick. Still, if I had to put money on it today, I'd bet on Pawlenty or another pro-life candidate who has not been in the speculative discussion of the past two weeks.