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Breaking: Is John McCain's VP pick suddenly imminent?

July 21, 2008 |  6:03 pm

These are the kinds of kerfuffles that make covering presidential campaigns exciting for the traveling media.

Rumors spread today that Sen. John McCain, the maverick, might go against conventional wisdom and announce his vice presidential pick this week, possibly as early as Tuesday.

The Times' Maeve Reston was on the McCain campaign plane minutes ago as it took off from Buffalo, N.Y. Just before the plane taxied, a groupRepublican presidential nominee to be Senator John McCain  and his possible pick as a vice presidential running mate former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney of reporters rushed the first-class cabin, where the candidate and senior staff usually sit.

There, right in front of that stupid, useless curtain, was the candidate himself. According to Reston, a reporter asked him point-blank whether he was announcing a running mate tomorrow. McCain simply grinned and walked away.

Mark Salter, one of McCain's closest confidants, said he couldn't comment, Reston reported. And press secretary Brooke Buchanan said, "We have no announcements today."

So, in the presidential press world, no denials means it could happen.

Conventional wisdom has been that McCain would save his....

...VP announcement until just before the Republican National Convention, which starts in St. Paul on Sept. 1.

The Friday before, Aug. 29, would be a good time to grab the main headlines away from Barack Obama, who will accept his party's nomination in a football stadium speech the previous night.

But wait a minute. Obama's getting a big media focus this week with his grand tour of the Middle East and Europe. Maybe McCain's strategists have decided this week would be a good time to step on Obama's publicity bandwagon and shift the spotlight back home.

Another advantage to that would be there'd be McCain and his running mate running around the nation the rest of the summer campaigning, a political two-for-one deal that gives the underdog GOP team an extra six weeks of partnered politicking.

The McCain plane is in the air now en route to -- guess where? McCain's favorite primary state of New Hampshire.

Of course, any vice presidential nominee could fly into New Hampshire. But what's already there close by? Hmm, Massachusetts is right next door. And, omg, so is its former Gov. Mitt Romney, who cleared the past primary financial decks last week by making his personal loans actual contributions.

Romney's been campaigning relentlessly for weeks already for McCain and steering his national network of donors to donate generously, as The Ticket noted here the other day.

Also, McCain is in New Orleans Thursday, the same day as the other guy is speaking at das Victoryplatz or whatever it's called in Berlin. And New Orleans is close to Baton Rouge where the young Gov. Bobby Jindal resides.

Then again, the whole thing with the nonanswers could be a perfectly timed feint -- no one in McCain's camp has said anything they'd have to take back -- that would still serve for a day or two to draw some attention back from the freshman Illinois senator on his foreign political field trip. Witness, this item.

Stay on your toes.

-- Andrew Malcolm

Photo credit: Mary Altaffer / Associated Press

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