Even if John McCain's presidential campaign falters Governor Tim Pawlenty may still end up on the GOP ticket. That's the word from analysts who say Pawlenty's star isn't necessarily hitched to McCain's fate.
McCain's campaign has endured a major staff shakeup in the past week, with three more announcing their departure on Monday. In addition to that, he appears to be strapped for cash. Some pundits have already counted McCain out of the running saying he's failed to connect to the conservative Republican base.
"McCain is right to the base on the war, but the base never liked McCain-Feingold and thinks McCain has been disingenuous on other issues," Republican analyst Sarah Janecek told KARE 11 Monday.
But Janecek says don't count Pawlenty out of the 2008 Veepstakes.
"Tim Pawlenty would have to be very high on Rudy Giuliani’s list," Janecek said.
"Rudy Giuliani is a moderate and he’s from New York. Somebody with Midwest values, conservative values like Tim Pawlenty, would be perfect for Giuliani."
Hamline University political expert Dave Schultz agreed Pawlenty remains on the short list of prospects if for no other reason the geography of the upper midwest battleground states.
Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa together make a block of 27 electoral votes creating a swing zone some have nicknamed Minn-Wis-Wa. The Republican National Convention's selection of Saint Paul positions the party well to market the ultimate nominees in those Mississippi Valley states.
All the McCain-Pawlenty talk has been fueled by the amount of quality time the two have spent together in the past year. The Arizona senator campaigned for the Minnesota Governor, and the governor has become McCain's highest profile volunteer.
Pawlenty has repeatedly downplayed his VP potential, saying he's focused on being the state's chief executive. McCain, for his part, has called such speculation "premature" this early in the game.
"I view Governor Pawlenty as the next generation Republican National leadership," McCain explained during a June 21 stop in St Paul.
"And I’m honored to have his friendship and his support."
And, Schultz added, the sooner McCain exits the race the easier it would be for other presidential hopefuls to tap into Pawlenty's potential for balancing the ticket.
Janecek said Pawlenty hasn't damaged his standing with other presidential wannabes, and yet he can't hitch his wagon to anyone else at this point.
"Tim can’t leave until McCain is out," she told KARE 11.
And, while most pundits don't allow themselves to be distracted by the alignment of letters in words, there's something this reporter can't help noticing.
The letters G-O-V are short for governor. And G-O-P is the acronym for Grand Old Party. You take the GO out of GOV, and the GO out of GOP, and you're left with only two letters: V and P. As in VP.
(Copyright 2007 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)