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Veepstakes: Let the Speculation Begin!

The news that former senator John Edwards (N.C.) and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) huddled for 20 minutes or so following Monday night's debate in South Carolina stoked speculation that perhaps the duo were discussing the potential of sharing a national ticket together.

Neither campaign offered any explanation for the gathering -- further driving the rumor mill. (Edwards, himself, did some work today to quiet the talk of a Clinton/Edwards ticket, decrying the "squabbling" between Clinton and Obama in last night's debate and adding: "I'm John Edwards and I represent the grown-up wing of the Democratic party.")

Let the veepstakes begin!

There is no more entertaining parlor game in Washington in the spring and early summer than who each nominee will name as their running mate. In the end, the speculation is almost always wrong, but that doesn't stop it from happening every four years.

In the Sunday Fix, which runs in the Post newspaper, we ran through some of the top vice presidential possibilities for Republicans and Democrats.

Here's a quick sketch on the people we floated over the weekend -- and even a few folks we left out (and heard about it from their supporters).

DEMOCRATS

John Edwards: The former senator from North Carolina has done it once, so most people think he won't do it
again. If Edwards stays in through the convention, as he has pledged to do, he could well be a kingmaker and in a position to negotiate himself a spot on the ticket.

Tim Kaine: The popular Virginia governor was one of the first to endorse Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) Kaine comes from a swing state, is term-limited out of his job in 2009 and will be looking for the next step.

Wesley Clark: Clark, who ran for president in 2004, has been one of the most valuable surrogates of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.). Clark has strong military credentials and might even be able to help deliver Arkansas, his home state, in a general election.

Tom Daschle: He and his political inner circle are extremely close to Obama. Daschle would help Obama address
questions about experience, and his Plains State populism could resonate well in the Rust Belt.

Evan Bayh: The senator from Indiana is clearly angling for the No. 2 slot, with his early endorsement and strong advocacy for Clinton. He has shown he can win in a red state, and his executive experience -- two terms as governor -- is an asset.

Kathleen Sebelius: The two-term Kansas governor is a rising star nationally and is coming off a successful stint as
chairman of the Democratic Governors Association. Don't forget that Obama has a soft spot for the Sunflower State; it's where his mother called home.

Tom Vilsack: Going into the Iowa caucuses, Vilsack was the leader in the clubhouse for vice president if Clinton were to win the nomination. Her third-place finish there hurt, but Vilsack's two terms as governor of the Midwestern swing state keep him in the mix.

Ted Strickland: The hue and cry from Strickland supporters after his omission from the Sunday Fix convinced us that there is still a significant lobby out there on behalf of the Ohio governor. If the Buckeye State is again ground zero in the race for the White House, it's hard to imagine the popular governor of the state not being included on the short list should Clinton win the nomination. That said, Strickland did himself no favors by badmouthing the Iowa caucuses just days before the vote.

Brian Schweitzer: The governor of Montana is among the most colorful politicians in the country and is also the face of Democrats' resurgence in the Mountain West. Schweitzer has proven to be an innovator on the campaign trail (he was the first candidate in the country to take seniors to Canada to buy cheap prescription drugs when he challenged Sen. Conrad Burns in 2000) and in the governor's office. His service as vice-chairman of the DGA should keep him on the minds of the chattering class in the coming months.

REPUBLICANS

Mike Huckabee: In the days after Sen. John McCain's win in New Hampshire, Huckabee seemed to be making a blatant play for the second slot on the ticket. His strength among social conservatives
would likely allay the doubts some carry about McCain.

Sonny Perdue: While the rest of the country was going south for Republicans in 2006, Perdue was cruising to a second term as governor of Georgia.

John Thune: The handsome first-term senator from South Dakota became a national GOP hero when he knocked off Daschle in 2004. Thune, who has endorsed McCain, is a darling of social conservative voters and his youth -- he is 47 -- might offset voters' concerns about electing a septuagenarian as president.

Mark Sanford: The governor of South Carolina is the rare Republican politician who can appeal to both fiscal and social conservatives. His renegade tendencies have rubbed many in his party the wrong way

Tim Pawlenty: Two terms as governor of a Midwestern swing state (Minnesota) provide a compelling argument for Pawlenty. Given their problems in the Northeast and Southwest in recent election cycles, Republicans must find a way with him to stay competitive in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio in November.

Rob Portman: Portman, a former congressman, has long been a favorite dark-horse pick of the chattering class. He is from Ohio, perhaps the swing state in a general election, and has experience in budget and trade matters in the Bush administration.

By Chris Cillizza  |  January 22, 2008; 1:35 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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