The way I see it, there are essentially three potential lists of potential GOP "veep" picks. Here they are (in no particular order):
1. Media picks: This includes folks who -- in my estimation -- have little chance of being picked, but generate lots of talk: McCain buddy Lindsay Graham, Democrat Senator for McCain Joe Lieberman, Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, and ex. CEO Carla Fiorina. For various reasons, these folks are not likely to be picked. (Lieberman is a Dem, Hucakabee made a costly gun gaffe regarding Barack Obama at an NRA meeting, Fiorina has never been elected to anything, etc.) -- but they are still fun to talk about!
2. Conservative picks: This list includes: Alaska governor Sarah Palin, Lousiana governor Bobby Jindal, South Carolina governor Mark Sanford -- and possibly former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor. My guess is that any of these folks would generate excitement among most conservatives.
3. GOP/McCain "Insiders" picks: Florida governor Charlie Crist, Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, Ambassador Rob Portman, South Dakota senator John Thune, and former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge. McCain might be tempted to pick some of these folks (Pawlenty, Crist, etc.) out of loyalty for helping him win the nomination. Others would be picked based on their ability to "deliver" an important state (Ridge in PA and Portman in OH). Generally speaking, these picks are solid "Republican" picks, but not exciting "conservative" picks.
A couple of observations ...
- Most of the folks on list 1 would be on list 3 -- if they had a chance of being picked.
- Mitt Romney is the only candidate who could arguably fit in with all three lists: The media likes to speculate about him, he has a decent number of conservative backers, and -- despite running aggressively against him in the primary -- he has made strides toward becoming a McCain "insider." For this reason, I would argue he has the greatest chance of being picked.
- I would be excited if he picked anyone on list 2 -- and underwhelmed if he picked anyone (save for maybe Thune) off of list 3.
... Lastly, how did I do? Did I leave anyone important off the list? Do you disagree with any of the classifications?