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Picking a No. 2 in the glare of the Internet age

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The beauty of all the talk is there no way to disprove any of the theories, at least until the actual selections are announced. The candidates themselves may not know which way they're leaning, at this point. Those with a window into their thinking aren't talking, and those who talk probably don't have a clue.

But out of the chaos a certain order has emerged. And the old rule – that being seen as lobbying for the veep nod will guarantee you're not chosen – may be dead. Exhibit A is Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts who proved to be Senator McCain's toughest competitor for the Republican nomination. Soon after dropping out of the race, Mr. Romney was all over television touting his interest in being McCain's running mate – despite the senator's ill-disguised disdain for the wealthy and well-coiffed ex-governor.

Romney then cooled the overt groveling, and after many weeks of raising money for McCain and touting his virtues on cable TV, is now seen as a leading contender to join the GOP ticket. To McCain insiders, who stress the importance of the senator's personal comfort level with his potential No. 2, the choice isn't a slam dunk. But they don't rule it out.

"It still seems like an unlikely pick, if only because of the importance McCain puts on those types of personal feelings," says Dan Schnur, who ran communications for McCain in his 2000 presidential race and is not active in the current race. "But for all the talk, Romney certainly brings a lot of political benefits to the ticket, which could force McCain to reconsider how important that type of personal chemistry is to him."

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