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Running with McCain: Who It Won’t Be

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Choosing a Presidential running mate is always a tough thing. Choosing a running mate when you’re the oldest non-incumbent presidential candidate in American history? Well, that’s a whole other kettle of fish. Very old fish.

Age is just one of the factors in play to determine who gets the nod for Republican Vice Presidential nominee. The field is pretty wide open in terms of helping the senior senator from Arizona balance his ticket—everyone from former primary opponents to political up-and-comers to complete dark-horse surprises in waiting. But who shouldn’t pack their track shoes, because they won’t even get to the starting block in this race? Here’s a short list.

1. Mitt Romney. The Massachusetts governor made it as far as he did in the race in part because he looks vaguely like Lyle Waggoner. And really, if you were worried about your age, would you want to continually stand next to a guy that looks like Major Steve Trevor from Wonder Woman? Of course not. Side-by-side with Mitt Romney, John McCain looks more like Vizzini from The Princess Bride than anything remotely resembling a President of the United States. On the plus side, though, Romney does carry the entire Strategic Petroleum Reserve in his hair, which is pretty darn convenient.

2. Strom Thurmond. On the other hand, finding a running mate that’s actually older than McCain might be a help. Barring the logical mis-step of choosing someone to be a heartbeat from the presidency when their own ticker might be closer to a time bomb than a Tag Heuer, putting someone in the Veep chair who makes McCain look young by comparison isn’t a bad strategy. Seeing as how Strom Thurmond retired from the Senate in 2003 at the age of 100, he’s got a shot. The fact that he died later that same year, however, works against him to some degree.

3. Sarah Palin. Alaska’s governor might at first blush seem like a natural choice. Being a woman, she works against the feminist bias that a Hillary Clinton ticket might draw. Being relatively young, she might be able to bring to bear some of the youth support that Barack Obama currently enjoys. Being a former contestant for Miss Alaska, she brings the beauty pageant vote that McCain so sorely lacks. What ultimately works against Governor Palin is her stance on polar bears—not so much that she’s currently suing the US Department of the Interior to have them removed from the threatened species list because it threatens oil and gas exploration, but because of her campaign slogan based on that issue: “Sarah Palin: Who Gives a Flying Fuck about Polar Bears?”

4. Joe Lieberman. Choosing Lieberman as your running mate has proven in the very recent past to be a ticket to oblivion. (Okay, oblivion plus an Oscar and a Nobel Peace Prize, but still.) That said, Joe Lieberman has long been an ally of McCain, and has proven himself to be quite the team player, so long as it’s the Bush team. No longer a Democrat, not quite a Republican, Lieberman would at least give the illusion of aisle-crossing. Problem is, that’s not McCain’s problem these days—McCain’s already seen as too much of a centrist. And besides, remember what Mr. Miyagi said: “Walk left side, safe. Walk right side, safe. Walk middle? Kwisshhhhh. Just like grape.” Just like grape, Mr. Lieberman. Just like grape.

5. Hillary Clinton. I dunno. I just got a feeling about this one. -- Teague Bohlen


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