I feel pretty confident that John McCain will announce his pick for Vice President shortly – maybe tomorrow, maybe not – timed to distract as much attention from Barack Obama’s speech at the Democratic Convention as possible. But whether he does that or waits till it’s his week, I don’t put much stock in this.

Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s long-shot prospect for vice president is getting a push from conservative and other pundits in the lead-up to next week’s Republican National Convention.

The latest flurry of speculation online and on cable television constitutes at least a third or fourth wave of chatter about Hutchison, whose name surfaces occasionally as a possible Republican vice-presidential candidate.

Hutchison, a delegate to next week’s convention, will address the gathering in Minneapolis-St. Paul on the subject of energy independence on Sept. 3, her office announced Tuesday.

The speaker slot would seem to douse the veep-talk, but no one would say for sure. A spokesman for Hutchison declined to comment, and the McCain campaign did not return a call about McCain’s colleague from Texas.

“She is female, which addresses the novelty of the opposition; she is smart and well-respected; she is knowledgeable on key issues, especially domestic policy,” said Bruce Buchanan, a University of Texas at Austin government professor. “I still think it’s going to be Mitt Romney.”


The short odds for McCain’s vice-presidential picks include Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former White House budget official Rob Portman of Ohio and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

“The conservatives could probably stomach (Hutchison) a lot better than a Tom Ridge or Joe Lieberman,” said University of Houston political scientist Richard Murray. “She is a woman and their strategy seems to be to go for disaffected Clinton voters. But I would say this is more like the Chet Edwards boomlet — it raises the profile, there is no downside to being mentioned, but Hutchison at this point looks like a last-minute ploy, not a considered judgment.”

I think Dr. Murray has it right, but you never know. On the other hand, it would be funny to see Rick Perry campaign for a ticket that contains probably at best his third choice for President, and his biggest in-state rival. Would he manage to refrain from gloating about how he psyched her out of the Governor’s race yet again? We may never know, but I get a grin just thinking about it.

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