No Choice for McCain
John McCain is campaigning in Pennsylvania today with former governor and homeland security chief Tom Ridge. This engagement and a recent increase in Ridge’s visibility as a campaign surrogate have inevitably fueled speculation that the former Marine could be on McCain’s shortlist for the vice presidential nomination. Given his position as a pro-choice Republican, Ridge has not previously received a great deal of attention as a potential running mate. I don’t think this current outing with McCain changes that very low probability in any meaningful way.
During a recent appearance on ABC’s This Week, Ridge mentioned that he did not believe McCain had a pro-life litmus test for selecting his running mate. Still, whatever the pro-life McCain’s personal feelings on the matter, I can’t conceive of any circumstance under which he would pick a pro-choice running mate. With social conservatives already wary of McCain on a variety of issues, the furor such a move would cause would do incalculable damage to McCain’s candidacy within his party. In fairness, the Democratic base would be just about as likely to cheer a pro-life vice presidential pick by Barack Obama. While abortion is not typically the number one issue on voters’ minds every four years, it continues to exert a profound influence on the underlying dynamics of the two-party system.

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