Even though we are six or seven weeks away from Sen. Barack Obama or Sen. John McCain naming their running mates, the buzz over the potential candidates is hot and heavy in Washington. And every week, sometimes every day, insiders swear to us that they know who's on top. So, as we get the new names or sure bets, we'll deliver them.
Today's top names have been in this mix before and are back because, after considering fresher faces, the campaigns appear to be heading back to those on their original lists. Topping the Democratic list is Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh, a onetime presidential wannabe. An Obama insider suggested that Bayh is a sure-footed former governor who presents a picture-perfect family and political pedigree. He will also assure moderate Midwest Democrats that the ticket isn't too radical. Two Virginians are also on the Obama top list: Gov. Tim Kaine and Sen. Jim Webb. The reasoning: Obama thinks he can win Virginia, a purple state with a rich military history that McCain's team thinks McCain should easily win. Webb is a former Navy secretary and Vietnam War vet, so he gives Obama military cred. But Kaine and Obama have "chemistry," and the governor is well liked in the state.
On the GOP side, one name captured the buzz: Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. While the Capitol Hill focus is on former Bush aide and Rep. Rob Portman, the thinking is that McCain wants somebody with no ties to Bush, who looks younger and has good state executive credentials.
And let's add a new poll provided to Whispers from the marketing firm Affinnova. Their "Optimize '08" poll asked 2,000 registered likely voters who they wanted as the running mates. Seems most Americans like former Secretary of State Colin Powell on top of either ticket. After him, Democrats chose, in order, Al Gore, former Rep. Dick Gephardt, Sen. Hillary Clinton, and former Sen. John Edwards. On the Republican side, the second choice after Powell was Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, followed by Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, and Rudy Giuliani.