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Vice president buzz swirls around McCain

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  • McCain on Tuesday: Will "announce when we are ready to announce"
  • Bobby Jindal-McCain meeting planned for Wednesday fuels speculation
  • Reports: McCain camp may announce this week to coincide with Obama trip
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(CNN) -- Amid speculation that Sen. John McCain will announce his vice presidential running mate this week, the Arizona senator avoided answering any questions on a timetable for the decision Tuesday.

John McCain is considering naming a vice presidential candidate this week according to some campaign sources.

John McCain is considering naming a vice presidential candidate this week according to some campaign sources.

At a news conference in Epping, New Hampshire, McCain was asked whether this was a good week to pick a running mate. Laughing, he responded, "thanks, no. We have the same answer as we've always had. We'll ... announce when we are ready to announce. ... We'll let you know when we have an announcement."

Adding fuel to speculation is a planned Wednesday meeting between McCain and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. Some analysts say the Arizona senator is seriously considering the 37-year-old Republican for his running mate.

News of the meeting, first reported by the Washington Post, comes amid reports that the McCain campaign was considering naming the vice presidential candidate this week in an effort to steal the media spotlight from Sen. Barack Obama's trip overseas. Video Watch more on the vice presidential speculation »

Sources close to the Republican presidential candidate have indicated that scenario is one of several possibilities recently discussed.

Speculation swirled around Jindal this summer when he was one of a handful of politicians McCain invited to his Sedona, Arizona, ranch. The long weekend was described as purely social, though former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist were also in attendance.

Jindal is considered a boy wonder of sorts in the Republican Party and has been lauded by several conservatives wary of McCain, including talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh.

But the decision would undercut one of the Arizona senator's chief arguments against Obama: his relative lack of experience. Jindal is nearly 10 years younger than Obama.

Jindal has remained mum on whether he is interested in or being formally vetted for the vice presidency.

Meanwhile, veepstakes speculation swung into full gear this week after sources in the McCain campaign confirmed to CNN's Dana Bash and Gloria Borger that there have been recent discussions high in the campaign about the possibility of naming a running mate this week.

One source says "no decision has been made" by the candidate. Another says that some within the campaign are arguing to hold off until Obama has named his decision "so there is an opportunity to counter-program."

In any case, a campaign source adds, this does mean the choice has been "narrowed" in McCain's mind to the point where he could, if he were so inclined, spring a decision this week.

The prospect of a McCain vice presidential announcement this week, first reported by Bob Novak on the Human Events Web site, would obviously change the subject from Obama's trip to the Middle East and Europe.

On Tuesday, Novak told Fox News that his report about McCain announcing his running mate this week may have been "a dodge" by the campaign to grab some headlines.

The conservative columnist went on to say that he received the tip from a "very senior McCain aide" and that the campaign "suggested I put it out" so he posted something online. Now he says he's been told by "certain people" he may have been used. If that's the case, it's "pretty reprehensible," Novak said.

Meanwhile, some of McCain's own advisers admit that just leaking the possibility of a vice president selection could take some of the attention away from Obama.

A senior adviser said the report is a "head fake" meant to distract attention from Obama's headline-grabbing overseas trip.

But when pressed, this adviser said that was their public explanation because they did not want to give the impression the campaign was undisciplined: "Because someone is an idiot, so we have to explain it as a tactic."

One GOP strategist says it would be a mistake to name a vice president pick this week. Another Republican source involved in top-level McCain campaign meetings -- including senior level discussions of the vice president search process -- told CNN's John King, "it'll be closer to the convention and after Obama picks his."


Still, this source says "everything" has been discussed, from naming a running mate early to waiting until the convention in order to give the GOP convention drama after the Democratic convention in Denver, Colorado.

Other sources say the "leading" plan has McCain naming his running mate after the Democratic convention.

CNN political producers Ed Hornick and Alexander Mooney, along with Time's Mark Halperin, contributed to this report.

All About John McCainBobby JindalMitt RomneyCharlie Crist

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