Analysis: Candidates' Potential Running Mates
STEVE INSKEEP, host:
As it happens, Americans are also wondering who will soon take over their battles against economic trouble, terrorism and other problems. For Barack Obama and John McCain, the presidential candidates, the next step is to choose running mates. Let's get some analysis this Monday morning from NPR's Don Gonyea, who is covering the presidential campaign. Don, good morning.
DON GONYEA: Good morning.
INSKEEP: Okay. We don't know who they want to pick, but is there any sign that they know who they're going to pick?
GONYEA: I honestly can say, Steve, that they have not given us any real indication that they have finally made up their minds. Certainly, you know, we get the sense that Senator McCain wants to go second in this one. Of course, his convention comes second, so why wouldn't you bat last if you have a chance to bat last?
But Senator Obama has been in Hawaii on vacation for the past week. He's back on the campaign stump over the weekend, but we do not have any firm indication that he has indeed made up his mind.
INSKEEP: Well, let's study the clues that we do have. He's visiting New Mexico, he's visiting Virginia in the coming days, and each of those states has somebody who's been mentioned as a vice presidential possibility.
GONYEA: That's right. Governor Bill Richardson, New Mexico, Governor Tim Kaine, Virginia. And you know, there's not much else we can do but try to read the tea leaves here. I guess the one thing we do know for sure is that Michael Phelps is too young...
INSKEEP: We should also mention...
GONYEA: ...were in Indiana a couple of weeks ago and there we as Senator Evan Bayh and everybody thought, ah, this is the day, Bayh's the guy. And guess what, no announcement. Does it mean Bayh's not on the list anymore? No, but that wasn't his day. Likewise, we were in Ohio and a lot of people were saying, well, there's Governor Ted Strickland, says he's not interested, but he might make an interesting number two as well. So we have to, you know, know that it's going to happen soon, 'cause the convention starts a week from today. But I think we should also be prepared for the possibility of a real surprise.
INSKEEP: So any state Barack Obama goes to, somebody in that state automatically becomes a potential running mate. We've got that clear.
GONYEA: That's pretty much it.
INSKEEP: And what about on John McCain's side?
GONYEA: Kind of the same there. You know, one name that has come up of late on Senator McCain's short list is former Governor Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania. But again, Tom Ridge is someone who has supported abortion rights and while he's the kind of guy who's always mentioned as an attractive number two for a Republican - he of course is from Pennsylvania, a state Democrats have carried as of late, that Republicans feel if they could steal it, that alone could be enough to win the election for them. But somebody like Ridge would pose serious problems for conservatives, an area within McCain's base that he's had to work really hard to shore up. So it's kind of the same story on that side.
INSKEEP: Don Gonyea, let's stay on abortion for a moment because over the weekend both these candidates turned up at the church of Rick Warren, a pastor of a mega-church, best-selling author, widely-known evangelical. What did he ask them on that topic?
GONYEA: Each candidate had something different to prove here. You know, with Senator Obama, he has been talking about the role of religion in his life, which he feels is an important thing for a Democrat to do, to cut into that evangelical base and the religious base that has trended towards Republicans. Senator McCain, again, trying to shore up support among conservatives; he was asked about abortion, he was asked by Reverend Warren: at what point is a baby entitled to human rights? Senator McCain didn't hesitate. He answered at the moment of conception - to huge cheers.
Senator Obama, it was different. He started by saying - this is a quote: "One thing that I'm absolutely convinced of is that there is a moral and ethical element to this issue." But then he went on to say that he is pro-choice, that he believes in Roe vs. Wade. He said he comes to that conclusion not because he's pro-abortion, but because he doesn't think women make these decisions casually. So you know, Senator McCain had the answer that this audience wanted to hear. But it doesn't mean that there weren't plenty of areas where Senator Obama was very warmly cheered, warmly received at the event over the weekend.
INSKEEP: Don, thanks very much.
GONYEA: Thank you.
INSKEEP: Analysis on this Monday morning from NPR's Don Gonyea.