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John McCain praises Bobby Jindal; does that carry special meaning?

June 4, 2008 |  8:16 pm

Now, that the two major parties' presidential nominees are both presumptive, everyone can start speculating full-time about the vice presidential picks of either Sens. John McCain or Barack Obama.

But Wednesday we may have gotten a peek into the running mate selection process for the Republican pick. McCain and his aides have said little about progress in vetting vice presidential candidates.

Louisiana Gov Bobby Jindal and his wife Supriya, a possible vice presidential running mate for Republican presidential nominee Sen. John mcCain of Arizona

But McCain supporter Charles “Buddy” Roemer, the former Louisiana governor, seemed to relish stirring up trouble for one prospect -- Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal -- a rising Republican star.

With McCain and Jindal within earshot at a town-hall-style meeting in Baton Rouge, Roemer said, perhaps revealingly, “He’s encouraged -- he’s allowed, he’s hinted that his vice president might be in this room,” Roemer said of McCain, his voice rising dramatically.

Soon the 36-year-old Louisiana governor, the U.S.-born son of an immigrant from India, who'd been standing in the wings, bounded....

... on stage to interrupt Roemer midsentence: “I thought I better rush up here before he gets me into more trouble,” Jindal told the audience.

After an introduction from Jindal, McCain praised the young Louisiana governor, who recently spent a weekend with his wife, Supriya, at the McCains’ weekend retreat outside Sedona, Ariz.

McCain credited Jindal with cutting taxes five times in Louisiana, reducing regulations and creating “probably the strongest and most effective ethical and lobbying reforms in the United States of America.”

In a sign of their growing friendship, he even ribbed Jindal about his efforts to woo his wife, who McCain called the “brains of the outfit,” noting she wisely refused Jindal’s first request for a date when they attended high school together in Baton Rouge. 

But one town hall questioner wasn’t letting McCain out the door without at least a word about whether Jindal was a possible No. 2. Why not? he asked McCain.

“I believe that Gov. Jindal is the next generation of leadership, not just of the Republican Party, but of America,” McCain answered.

“What he’s been able to accomplish in his 36 years on earth has been quite remarkable. And it’s a great American success story. So I know he’s earned a place in the future of the Republican Party and our country.”

Which sounds quite nice, doesn't it? Except McCain has been using that exact same line about “earning a place” in the party on other possible veeps, including former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Plus, given the McCain campaign’s sensitivity about its candidate's age, they might not prefer a running mate who's a living reminder in media coverage that those much-praised 36 years on earth are almost exactly half of McCain’s own nearly 72 years on earth.

-- Maeve Reston

Photo Credit: AP

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