The McCain VP Race Is On

Republican strategists today applauded the Sunday TV appearances of two likely GOP vice presidential contenders, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford.

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Republican strategists today applauded the Sunday TV appearances of two likely GOP vice presidential contenders, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford.

While both ducked when asked whether they are running for the job, they have been the top picks—along with Mike Huckabee and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist—for weeks. McCain hasn't indicated what he would like for a nominee and top aides don't think that geography plays as much of a role as compatibility with the senator.

One strategist gave high marks to Pawlenty, especially the governor's criticism of Barack Obama on CNN and Fox. "Sanford was strong too," said the GOP insider. Others said it was revealing that the GOP's surrogates have already turned to supporting McCain and criticizing the Democrats while the Democratic candidates are still stuck in campaign mode and the surrogates battling over superdelegates.

"I thought it was telling that the Democratic governors were asked about superdelegates, while the Republicans focused on advocating McCain and attacking Obama," said a GOP strategist.

—Paul Bedard