Sunday, July 23, 2000

Odds on Keating as Bush running mate

        Very soon, we will know who George W. Bush's running mate will be; he is holed up in Austin right this moment cogitating about it.

        What follows is a handicapping of the most talked-about potential running mates, all ready to take their places in history next to Levi P. Morton and J. Danforth Quayle.

        This exercise is not for the purposes of gambling, mind you. Gambling is wrong. You will never get a plaque in Cooperstown. So don't do it.

        Unless, that is, you find a live one near the water cooler at work who wants to take Donald Trump and points.

        So, for educational purposes only, here goes:

        John McCain: 50-1.this is probably the best choice politically for Mr. Bush, but highly unlikely.

        Mr. McCain is a live wire, a free agent, a loose cannon who does not take stage di rection well.

        John McCain didn't buckle under for his North Vietnamese captors 30 years ago; it's unlikely he would kowtow to Mr. Texas Air National Guard now.

        Colin Powell: 80-1.It's clear that what the retired general would really like is to be secretary of state. It is just as clear that he is smart enough to realize he would be a candidate for that job in both administrations.

        John Kasich: 12-1. With youth, vitality and an encyclopedic knowledge of the federal government, the Columbus-area congressman seems a natural.

        But, like Mr. McCain, Mr. Kasich suffers from HDD — Humility Deficit Disorder. He would have a hard time staying in the back with his seat belt securely fastened.

        Elizabeth Dole: 20-1.She has been begging for it ever since dropping out of the presidential race, but every indication is that the choice will be a safe one; Dubya won't be making any history this time around.

        Chuck Hagel: 8-1. The Nebraska senator backed Mr. McCain for the GOP nomination, but was quick to jump on board the Bush campaign when the McCain campaign sank. A Vietnam vet, he could divert the attention of those who wonder why the presidential candidate felt he had to stay and defend Texas from air attack.

        Tom Ridge: 12-1.In early summer, the Pennsylvania governor was the hottest thing going, but his chances faded with the idea that his pro-choice opinions might upset the GOP base.

        Richard Cheney: 3-1.I found it curious that on Friday Mr. Cheney, who heads the Bush veep search team, scurried back to his home state of Wyoming to re-establish his voting status there. He had been voting in Texas, and the constitution prevents a state's electoral college members from casting ballots for presidential and vice presidential candidates from their own state. We don't think Mr. Bush wants to give up Texas' 32 electoral votes.

        Frank Keating: 2-1.Safe, reliable, popular among conservative and moderate Republicans alike. Catholic. Solid anti-abortion. High marks for his handling of the Oklahoma City bombing tragedy.

        And just bland enough not to attract attention away from the headline act.

        The perfect Bushie.

        Howard Wilkinson covers politics. He can be reached at 768-8388 or via e-mail at


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