McCain Meets with Possible Running Mates

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Speculation about a vice-presidential selection heats up as Sen. John McCain, the presumed Republican presidential nominee, meets with potential running mates. Meanwhile, Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama spend the Memorial Day weekend on the road. Renee Montagne talks with Juan Williams.

ROBERT SMITH, Host:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Steve Inskeep is on assignment in Pakistan. I'm Robert Smith.

RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

There was no holiday from politics this Memorial Day weekend. Among the Democrats, Barack Obama gave a commencement address standing in for Ted Kennedy at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. Hillary Clinton campaigned in Puerto Rico where 55 Democratic delegates are at stake.

On the Republican side, John McCain met with possible vice presidential running mates at a barbeque in Arizona. To read the smoke signals from the grill, NPR news analyst Juan Williams joins us now. Good morning.

JUAN WILLIAMS: Good morning, Renee.

MONTAGNE: Let's start at John McCain's ranch in Arizona. Remind us who was there and why John McCain made this get together so public?

WILLIAMS: Well, you know, I think it's really an effort by John McCain to make it clear that his campaign is in full gear and he's looking towards the fall election. So, he was joined this weekend out in Arizona by the governor of Louisiana, young Bobby Jindal, and Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts who ran against McCain in the Republican primary - as well as Charlie Crist, the governor of Florida. And you also had Meg Whitman, the former eBay executive, at the ranch this weekend.

So, all of them were there along with a Washington, D.C. lawyer, A.B. Culvahouse, who's in charge of vetting these vice presidential possibilities. And they're looking at some key issues, Renee. Like, geography. For instance, Charlie Crist from Florida could help bring along Florida, a swing state. You're also looking at youth - Jindal is very young and that would help McCain with the questions about his age.

And then you're looking at people how can help him with domestic issues, in specific the economy, and Mitt Romney, who's been a successful businessman could help on that front.

MONTAGNE: And presumably John McCain was looking at how enjoyable they all would be at a barbeque.

WILLIAMS: Yeah, how they got along. I think, you know what, that's exactly right, meaning it's easy to overlook but the fact is he's looking for someone who is compatible.

MONTAGNE: Let's turn to Democrats, definitely a torched past. Very publicly this weekend from the Kennedys to Barack Obama.

WILLIAMS: You know, it was really striking because Obama was sitting - standing in, I should say, at Wesleyan in Connecticut for Senator Ted Kennedy, who's been ill, and he's really spoke about picking up the Kennedy legacy. He not only spoke, you know, glowingly about Ted Kennedy but about Robert F. Kennedy and spoke about the whole notion of acts of service leading to ripples of hope. And he also spoke about John F. Kennedy.

And it really was not a very political speech in the sense that he wasn't talking about the primaries or the outcomes of this Democratic contest, but one in which he was, I think, plugging into the notion of Camelot and that maybe he was this generation's representative.

MONTAGNE: The big news on the Democratic side is that the Clinton and Obama campaigns are preparing for a meeting of the party's rules and bylaws committee - that's this coming Saturday. Let's talk rules and bylaws.

WILLIAMS: Well, now, this is a - everybody is gearing up. That's the real work of the campaigns this week, because Saturday in Washington you'll have the Democratic Party rules committee getting together. And here the issue is whether or not to seat delegates from Michigan and Florida. And as you recall, Renee, both of those delegations have not been seated so far because they jumped the queue and held their primaries in advance of when the party had approved and the party sanctioned them by not acknowledging their delegates.

So, Senator Clinton is arguing that, you know, people went to the polls and you have to acknowledge them. Senator Obama's team has blocked efforts at having re-votes. But right now it looks as if they're in the mood to say, well, we have to have some kind of accommodation. If Senator Clinton were to get, let's say, the delegates from there, she would reach, I guess, about 111 pledged delegates. But Senator Obama leads by about 190.

So, what you get is that she might get closer but not close enough, Renee, but it would help her to make the argument to the superdelegates that this race is razor close and she deserves the consideration from those superdelegates.

MONTAGNE: Juan, thanks very much.

WILLIAMS: You're welcome, Renee.

MONTAGNE: NPR's Juan Williams.

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