Report: It's Pawlenty

Jim Geraghty at NRO's Campaign Spot says an "announcement is coming very soon" from the McCain camp about the Veep spot and Jim's source says it's Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty:

A source tells me that Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty is John McCain's choice, and that the announcement is coming very soon. But I checked with the American Legislative Exchange Council, who Pawlenty is scheduled to address Wednesday at 11:30. As far as they know, his speech is still on.

So I urge skepticism. Maybe Pawlenty is the choice, and it's coming later. Or perhaps this was just an overreaction to the news that Pawlenty is going to Iowa Saturday for the state Republican party.

Another possibility is that McCain is floating a trial balloon to gauge reaction. But that isn't done as much anymore - not with the sophistication of polling. Or it could be all a mirage and McCain is nowhere near naming a running mate.

However, I've got a gut feeling that even if it takes a while, McCain will come around to Pawlenty. The reason is that recent polls show Obama's lead in Minnesota crashing from 17 points to around 6. And if Minnesota is in play, it would be a vital "get" for the McCain campaign. Choosing Pawlenty would even give McCain an outside shot at Wisconsin.

Other pluses for Pawlenty are his experience and knowledge of economic issues. He is a popular GOP governor in a blue state - not an easy thing to be.

His downside is obvious; he's not as conservative as the base was hoping for. But McCain has shown a disdain for what the base thinks so far. Why should he start caring now?

Pawlenty would be a safe choice, not an exciting choice. Despite being behind and needing to make a big splash with his running mate selection, McCain might be choosing - using a baseball analogy - to bunt rather than swing away. It's called "playing the percentages" in baseball. But by doing that, McCain loses the opportunity to make a statement about "change" that may have resonated a lot more with the voter.

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