One in, one out

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Speculating about who Senators McCain and Obama will pick as running mates is one of the few summer joys for those of us trapped in muggy Washington. So far this week, the score is one in and one out of the vice presidential fray.

On Monday, Virginia Senator Jim Webb issued a statement saying he had, “communicated to Senator Obama and his presidential campaign my firm intention to remain in the United States Senate, where I believe I am best equipped to serve the people of Virginia and this country.”

Meanwhile, at a Monitor breakfast with reporters on Monday former Hewlett Packard Board Chairman Carly Fiorina did nothing to dampen speculation that she is interested in being Senator McCain’s running mate. When asked if a former corporate official could be an appropriate vice presidential pick she said, “I think there are things that government can borrow and learn from business.”

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Ms. Fiorina “couldn't be any more plain about her vice presidential ambitions without taking out an ad,” Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank said in his piece about the breakfast.

Senator Webb was considered attractive as a vice presidential nominee because his resume is strong where Obama’s is weak: on national security issues, notes Los Angeles Times congressional correspondent Janet Hook.  The first term senator, elected in 2006, served as President Reagan’s Navy Secretary and is a decorated Vietnam War veteran from a state Senator Obama intends to contest.

Webb took himself out of consideration after being asked to provide Obama’s vice presidential vetting team with information and documents, according to reporting by theatlantic.com’s Marc Ambinder.  Being asked for documents is a sign a vice presidential candidate is under serious consideration.  The leaders of Obama’s vetting team are Caroline Kennedy and Eric Holder, deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration.

As MSNBC’s “First Read” observes, Webb is the second prominent Democrat to make a Sherman-esque statement regarding being picked as Obama’s VP.  Popular Ohio governor Ted Strickland – a Hillary Clinton supporter – was the first potential running mate to opt out of the vice presidential sweepstakes.  One Virginia elected official who remains on Obama’s list is Governor Tim Kaine.

Under the headline “Risky Business” Post humorist Milbank had fun with Fiorina’s health care policy observation that, “There are many health insurance plans that will cover Viagra but won't cover birth-control medication.”  Still, the Post column noted that Fiorina’s “attributes are many: a woman who could appeal to disaffected Hillary Clinton supporters; a corporate hotshot to balance the "economy-is-not-my-strong-suit" McCain; and an outsider untainted by President Bush, Washington and politics.”

The Stanford and MIT grad is certainly image savvy.  With gasoline prices a major political issue, Fiorina rolled up to front door of the St Regis Hotel for breakfast not in the black SUV favored by many top officials but in a campaign staffer’s subcompact.

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