A Retreat, Not an Interview
By Jeffrey H. Birnbaum and Juliet Eilperin
A weekend retreat at Sen. John McCain's Sedona, Ariz., ranch sparked a flurry of speculation today that the presumptive GOP nominee was vetting possible running mates, but his top aides quickly quashed the rumors.
Two McCain aides said that McCain and his wife, Cindy, were entertaining a group of prominent Republicans -- including governors Charlie Crist (Fla.) and Bobby Jindal (La.) and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney -- for social, rather than political, reasons.
"The McCains are having nine couples to their place in Sedona for a social weekend," said senior McCain strategist Charles R. Black Jr. "Among them are Governor Crist, Governor Jindal and former governor Romney. It's a purely social weekend and has nothing to do with the vice presidential selection process."
Earlier today, the New York Times reported that the meetings were aimed at helping determine who McCain would chose as his running mate: All three men have been mentioned as possible vice presidential picks this year. McCain's staff has closely held any information about its vice presidential selection process away from public scrutiny.
Another McCain aide, who asked not to be identified, wrote in an e-mail that it would make no sense to use the event for vetting since it would be "kind of a large crowd" if the senator was scrutinizing the guests for their potential running-mate qualities.
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