Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. said Thursday that no matter who John McCain chooses as his running mate, the GOP presidential ticket will be good for Utah. McCain is expected to announce his pick this morning in Ohio.
Huntsman, a longtime supporter of McCain, said during a taping of his monthly press conference on KUED Ch. 7 that he had "no unique insights" into whom the Arizona senator will tap as vice president.
The governor later declined to handicap the so-called "veepstakes," reportedly between Salt Lake City's 2002
Winter Olympics leader Mitt Romney, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge and Independent Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman.
The wait should be over at 9 a.m. MST today, when it's anticipated that McCain will name his running mate at a rally in Dayton, Ohio. The rally will launch a weekend of campaigning prior to Monday's start of the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn.
News reports suggested Romney, Pawlenty, Ridge and Lieberman will appear together with McCain in Dayton for the announcement, possibly to help keep the selection secret.
Romney, who quit his own race for the White House in February, and Ridge are reportedly also attending another rally with McCain in western Pennsylvania. Romney is set to appear with McCain yet again, this time with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, at a Sunday rally in a baseball stadium just outside St. Louis.
McCain staffers, however, have cautioned reporters not to read too much into who is accompanying the candidate on the campaign trail. Some reports said that McCain was still considering a woman for the No. 2 spot on the ticket.
Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, told the Deseret News editorial board Thursday that if McCain is smart, Romney will be his vice-presidential pick.
"All of the reliable indicators say that he will be," Bennett said. "But when you're dealing with John McCain, you can never be sure."
Bennett said Romney's strengths would fill in all of the holes in McCain's resume because Romney, who amassed a personal fortune, has a solid business background while McCain "by his own admission does not know much about economics."
Plus, Bennett said, Romney's "youth and vitality" would bring energy to the GOP ticket.
While there was plenty of friction between Romney and McCain during the primary, Bennett said the pair "have kissed and made up." Still, he said, there are McCain staffers who see Romney as making McCain "look old and grumpy by comparison."
"If McCain picks Romney, it will be a demonstration of his maturity as a politician to recognize that whatever the various problems, you picked the guy who can do you the most good," Bennett said.
Huntsman said McCain's vice presidential choice "is a very personal decision for him and I think it's one where chemistry really will matter in the end.