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John McCain will be the 'decider' of who gets the second slot

May 2, 2008 |  1:30 pm

For those wondering whether an eminence grise such as Warren Christopher or Dick Cheney will soon head John McCain's vice presidential selection committee, the answer is yes and no, depending upon whether you think of McCain as a wise old Washington hand.

"He's the chairman of the selection committee," said Charlie Black, referring to the candidate himself, during a lunch with reporters hRepublican Sen. John McCain at one of his signature town hall meeting' campaign appearances in Denver todayosted by the Christian Science Monitor. Black said no timetables have been set and the staff is uninvolved. "He is thinking about names," Black said. "He's not talking to any of us about that."

McCain has referred to this as being in the "embryonic stage." Said Black: "He'll talk to a great variety of people, as he does on all issues and matters of importance."

Yet Black acknowledged that the choice of a running mate is fraught with meaning for a 71-year-old candidate looking to reassure voters that they will be in good hands if anything should happen to him. "Every nominee wants to make the best possible selection," he said, adding that they all "want to make sure they were picking somebody who could succeed and handle the job."

McCain is no different in wanting to pick the best person.

"There's always a lot of focus on it,'' Black said. "It's the first big decision a nominee makes.''

And remember, George Bush left that committee in the hands of Cheney, who after an exhaustive search, decided he would be Bush's best choice for a running mate.

-- Jill Zuckman

Jill Zuckman writes for the Swamp of the Chicago Tribune's Washington bureau.
AP Photo by Mary Altaffer.