George Bush pondered a shrinking list of potential running mates on Saturday as Republicans flocked by the thousands into their hot-and-humid convention city for a week of politics and partying.

Bush, his own nomination set for Wednesday night, was said by one source to have narrowed the list of vice presidential prospects to a half dozen or so names. "I'm not saying whom I'm going to run with," was the vice president's comment in an interview with Cable News Network.The roster was said to include two former rivals for the GOP nomination, Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas and Jack Kemp of New York. Also in the running were Dole's wife, Elizabeth, Sens. Dan Quayle of Indiana, Pete Domenici of New Mexico and Alan Simpson of Wyoming, as well as at least one or two others.

One party source put former Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander on the list.

With Bush in Washington pondering his choices and polishing his acceptance speech, Republicans spent the pre-convention weekend lighting up the social circuit.

There were 500 separate convention-related receptions, breakfasts, luncheons, dinners, brunches and cocktail parties on the docket for the week by rough count, not to mention the tourist attractions that make New Orleans famous.

"We had a few delegates come in. They had their badges on," said Manny Moreland, the doorman at a club in the fabled French Quarter where female impersonators dance nearly naked. "From New York. Good tippers."

A youthful Republican balloon squad worked overtime inflating enough red, white and blue balloons for next week's celebration.

Construction crews put the finishing touches on the Superdome podium where Bush will stand to deliver his acceptance speech next Thursday night.

Police reported that 25 groups had signed up to stage protests in a designated area several blocks from the convention arena. The list ran the gamut from self-proclaimed anarchists to marijuana smokers to advocates from the homeless.