In a surprise to many Republican insiders, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is at the top of the vice presidential prospect list for John McCain. But lack of personal chemistry could derail the pick.

Romney as favorite is the hot buzz in Republican circles, and top party advisers said the case is compelling.

Campaign insiders say McCain plans to name his running mate very shortly after Barack Obama does, as part of what one campaign planner called a bounce-mitigation strategy.

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