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Veepstakes: Tiptoeing across minefields

The Los Angeles Times looks at the minefields both candidates are navigating with their potential VP picks. "Economic conservatives cringe at Mike Huckabee. Conservative evangelicals like Huckabee but wince at Mitt Romney. Gay rights activists are trying to rule out Sam Nunn. The women's movement is wary of several prominent Democrats who support abortion restrictions."

"That's the minefield Barack Obama and John McCain are tiptoeing across as they choose their vice presidential nominees. The goal of each: to find a running mate who adds appeal to the ticket -- while steering around the candidates who would leave key groups angry and ready to abandon the party."

Tim Pawlenty gets the New York Times' front-page treatment. "As is his way, Gov. Tim Pawlenty made a self-deprecating aside on a local radio show this spring during the ceremonial start of the state's beloved fishing season. He praised his wife's willingness to fish with him and to watch hockey games, then added, 'And I jokingly say, "Now, if I could only get her to have sex with me."'" 

"Some Minnesotans cringed. Others, including his wife, Mary, a former judge who met her future husband in law school, said he was just being himself, joker and all. Outside his home state, Mr. Pawlenty is among the least-known of the prospects Senator John McCain is said to be considering as a vice-presidential partner. But those who have followed his political rise here say Mr. Pawlenty's personal story — his direct, everyman appeal to ordinary people — is among his most powerful attributes." 
 
Mitt Romney went to bat for Joey Cheek, a former speedskater and Darfur activist whose visa was denied by Chinese officials. "Romney, who was en route to Beijing yesterday for today's start of the Games, personally intervened in Cheek's case, writing a letter to top Chinese government officials and the Chinese Olympic committee president. 'It's a very serious error on their part,' Romney said in a telephone interview from Washington between flights. 'Joey Cheek is by no means an out-of-control radical. He's a very serious, sober, responsible individual, and his support for human rights certainly can't be in any way a detraction from the Games.'"

More from NBC/NJ's Matthew E. Berger and Carrie Dann…
REPUBLICANS: The folks at Radar link to this archived St. Pete Times piece from 2007, when Florida Gov. Charlie Crist visited the Middle East: "Waiting for Crist on the helipad at the king's residence was Harry Sargeant of Palm Beach County, a fraternity brother of Crist's at Florida State University in the 1970s and a supporter of his gubernatorial campaign last year. Sargeant loaned a corporate jet to Crist's campaign, and Sargeant's family and companies gave $248,000 to the state Republican Party in 2006." 
 
Rep. Eric Cantor's hometown paper points out that the Republican congressman barely made it out of the 2000 primary that eventually won him his House seat. "But for 263 votes, Rep. Eric I. Cantor, R-7th, wouldn't be potentially a heartbeat from the presidency."

DEMOCRATS: A Virginia columnist says that Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine's father-in-law, a former Republican governor of the state, could help with the "Obamacan" movement. "If Mr. Kaine ends up on the Democratic ticket, expect to see a lot of Mr. Holton on the campaign trail, as a prominent "Republican for Obama."

Leon Panetta?

National Journal's Mercurio has this idea: "What if presidential candidates no longer kept their VP searches under lock and key? What if, instead, they opened up the process to intense scrutiny and public debate by voters and the media?"