There has been a lot of speculation about who McCain will, and should, choose as a running mate. Condi Rice has been mentioned. So has Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota. Romney has been suggested, as has Mike Huckabee. Mark Sanford of South Carolina has been brought up, as has Senator DeMint of the same state.
Frank Keating is articulate, likeable and conservative. Unlike McCain, however, Keating is a conservative with no real question marks by his conservatism. He has, however, proven independent. When he headed the investigation of the Catholic sex abuse scandals, Keating, a devout Catholic, did not hesitate at all to take on the Church. This sort of independence would appeal to McCain. The fact that Keating supported McCain early will not hurt his chances either. The sympathetic coverage Keating has gotten from the national media since the Murrah Bombing will only add to his appeal.
How about Mel Martinez? (I can almost hear my conservative friends groaning.) If the only issue on the table was immigration, then I might have serious reservations about Martinez. But his rating by the American Conservative Union in 2005 (the last reported year at its website) was 100 percent and his lifetime rating is 96 percent. Only five other members of the Senate have lifetime ratings that conservative. Martinez would deliver Florida and, along with McCain's popularity among Hispanics, would prove a powerful pull for the Hispanic vote.
Michael Steele is a very attractive candidate, a black conservative who might help carry states like Pennsylvania and Delaware, as well as hold states like West Virginia. His commitment to conservative principles and the Republican Party is unquestioned, particularly considering that he is from Maryland, one of the most liberal states in the union.
Rick Santorum would be another genuine conservative who could help in the Northeast, particularly Pennsylvania. Although Santorum has been a critic of Senator McCain, that very opposition may reassure conservatives if he is placed on the ticket. Santorum is attractive, articulate and a good campaigner.
Duncan Hunter is probably the Republican that conservatives would put in the White House if they could. A Vietnam War veteran whose son is a Marine in Afghanistan, Hunter's positions on social issues has been as clearly conservative as his position on national security issues. Having two distinguished Vietnam vets on the same ticket would make it extremely difficult for Democrats to try to run against a quagmire in Iraq (especially considering that Hunter's son is on the front lines of combat.)
Tom Coburn is the most conservative member of the Senate. He actively opposes earmarks and his record on social conservatism is beyond question. Coburn's political history is also impressive: He took a three term pledge when first elected to Congress in 1994, and he kept it. When Coburn was elected to the Senate in 2004, he did so without compromising any of his principles. He is a senator with a perfect conservative voting record who has also endorsed McCain - that is a perfect link between the conservative base and McCain.
Those six candidates would all add to the ticket. All are genuine conservatives (yes, including Martinez) and none have skeletons in their closet. All are good campaigners who look impressive in front of the camera.
My first choice would be someone else. John Kasich has the same reputation for independence as John McCain. The two men have the same sort of "straight talk" reputation. Kasich also has been a successful host of a television news program. He comes across on television as extremely sincere. Kasich has been a consistent conservative across the board. At 55, he is young enough to run for president after McCain and to serve two terms in office, even while possessing right now enough experience in government to be president.
Kasich is extremely popular in his home state of Ohio. Given the mess that Republicans in Ohio state government made, Kasich is probably the only Republican in America who could actually deliver Ohio to the Republican column. Given the Rasmussen Electoral College state by state polls, Ohio is the lynchpin of the election. Right now it is "leans Democrat" although McCain leads Obama in Ohio (Kasich would expand that lead.) McCain also leads Obama in the other big swing state of Florida. If Republicans carry Ohio and Florida, and carry the "toss up" states of Missouri, Virginia, Colorado and Nevada then the election is won. I have always liked Kasich. I would like him best in the White House.