Speculation is swirling today that presumptive GOP presidential nominee John McCain is about to name his choice for vice president — and that choice may well be Mitt Romney.

Veteran Washington, D.C. columnist Bob Novak apparently sparked the latest surge in talk about what's being called the "veepstakes" by posting an item late Monday evening saying sources close to the McCain campaign may be ready to make an announcement.

Novak said the sources "are suggesting he will reveal the name of his vice presidential selection this week while Sen. Barack Obama is getting the headlines on his foreign trip." The Democratic nominee is in Iraq.

The widely read columnist goes on to say, "The name of McCain's running mate has not been disclosed, but Mitt Romney has led the speculation recently." Novak himself reported earlier this year that former top presidential adviser Karl Rove was backing Romney.

The possibility has also been picked up by Fox News, which reported on its website late Monday that McCain "brushed off the question during a plane ride with reporters to New Hampshire, giving only a mischievous grin."

Romney's spokesman, Eric Fehrnstrom, told the Deseret News in an e-mail today, "There's a lot of guessing and speculation going on, but the fact is that Governor Romney expects to be campaigning for John McCain as a supporter and not as a member of the ticket."

Romney has grabbed headlines in recent weeks by campaigning hard for McCain, repeatedly appearing on a number of cable news programs to attack Obama's lack of experience and praise McCain's leadership abilities.

The former leader of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City is seen as bringing a strong business background to the Republican ticket, as well as being able to attract voters in several key swing states. He is also credited with raising millions of dollars for McCain, including helping to bring in some $2 million for the candidate and the GOP here in Utah recently.

Those states include Michigan, where Romney's late father, George, served as governor. Also, Romney is seen as strong in the Intermountain West, because of his membership in the LDS Church.

His Mormon faith, however, has been viewed as a drawback by some, especially among evangelical Christian voters in the south. That was the case during Romney's own unsuccessful bid for the White House this year.

Although Romney fought hard against McCain before dropping out of the race after a disappointing Super Tuesday showing on Feb. 5, the pair appear to have largely set aside their personal differences.

Other candidates that McCain is reportedly considering for the No. 2 spot include Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Florida Gov. Charlie Christ, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and another former contender for the GOP nomination, Mike Huckabee.


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