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Now, the GOP VP watch: McCain hits Pa. with Tom Ridge

August 8, 2008 |  6:48 am

Republican presidential nominee to be Senator John McCain of Arizona and his friend and possible GOP running mate Tom Ridge, former governor of Pennsylvania and secretary of Homeland Security

Here comes the next chapter in the Republican vice presidential guessing game.

While a fatigued Democratic nominee-to-be Barack Obama relaxes in Hawaii and perhaps allows the country to start recovering from emerging "Obama fatigue," Republican nominee-to-be Sen. John McCain heads back to Pennsylvania next week for the sixth time since early June.

Think it's an important battleground state?

With the presidential spotlight to himself, McCain will spend two days touring the Keystone State with Vietnam War hero, former representative, former governor, former Homeland Security secretary and current McCain pal Tom Ridge.

The 62-year-old Pittsburgh native was an infantry staff sergeant in Vietnam, winning a Bronze Star for Valor and losing hearing in one ear from an explosion. He's reported to be a favorite of the 72-year-old former Vietnam POW for his GOP running mate; Ridge cut taxes every year of two terms as governor, which would please Republican conservatives, but not his pro-choice stance.

Next week's cross-state tour from Erie, which Ridge represented in the House, to Harrisburg, Lancaster and York, fulfills the desires of state party officials for the presumptive Republican nominee to concentrate more on the conservative center of Pennsylvania that's so full of those bitter small-town people who cling to their religions and guns. Do you remember who scored big in that region in the Democratic primary? Hint: She's not in the race anymore.

Polls show Obama leading in Pennsylvania for now, based on his stronghold in the southeast corner including Philadelphia, where McCain has visited frequently, hoping to capture suburban votes. Our colleague Josh Drobnyk has more details over at the Swamp.

-- Andrew Malcolm

Photo credit: Jim Cole / Associated Press