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'The Last Cookie On The Plate'

By Bill Schneider/CNN [Buchanan]

WASHINGTON (April 16) -- Washington lives on lists -- the White House state dinner list, the who-flies-on-Air-Force-One list, Nixon's enemies list.

As soon as Sen. Robert Dole (R-Kan.) secured enough delegates for the GOP presidential nomination, he became the keeper of the hottest list around -- the mental list of people he's considering as possible running mates.

Dole hasn't dropped many clues yet, but that hasn't stopped the speculation. Who's In? Who's out? Who's up? Who's down? We've got all the names that have been mentioned. And a few that are unmentionable. Let's take a look and to make it easier, we'll sort them by category:

The Losers

These guys fell by the wayside during the GOP primaries and then they hope to get put on the ticket. It's sort of a consolation prize. It happened to George Bush In 1980. Phil Gramm, Steve Forbes, Dick Lugar and Lamar Alexander hope it'll happen to them.

Don't count on it.

What about Pat Buchanan? He won New Hampshire, but nothing else. Will Dole put Buchanan on the ticket, sort of to heal the wounds in the party? Buchanan has said some tough things about Dole.

Get outta here.

[Engler] The Battleground Governors

Anyone in a big state could help. Lyndon Johnson delivered Texas for the Democrats in 1960. The possibilities include Michigan's John Engler, Ohio's George Voinovich, Wisconsin's Tommy Thompson and Pennsylvania's Tom Ridge. And they're all Catholics! That could help with a block of swing voters. What about Illinois' Jim Edgar? A Protestant.

And Florida, that's a battleground state. But there's no Republican governor. Jeb Bush lost. Still, he's a good name and someone active in party politics. Another good name -- Florida Sen. Connie Mack III. It sounds like baseball.

But two senators on the ticket? It worked for Kennedy and Johnson. McGovern and Eagleton, on the other hand, didn't last a month.

[Bush]

Another governor: George W. Bush of Texas. But it's not a battleground.

Dole can't ignore California, with its mega-votes and 54 electoral votes. Gov. Pete Wilson broke his promise to the voters not to run for president and Californians are still mad at him. That won't work.

How about other California Republicans? There's Attorney General Dan Lungren, Congressman Chris Cox and former Gov. George Deukmejian? But are they that desperate?

[Bennet] The Base-Builders

One strategy would be to pick someone to fire up the conservatives. Say, virtue-man Bill Bennett. Or Virginia Gov. George Allen. Or House Whip Tom DeLay. Or Missouri Sen. John Ashcroft. Excite the right worked for Barry Goldwater, didn't it, when he picked Bill Miller? Well, actually, no.

[Merril] The Payback Candidates

These are people who helped Dole and he could return the favor. How about New Hampshire Gov. Steve Merrill? He's available. There's only one problem: Dole lost New Hampshire.

But Dole won South Carolina and that turned his campaign around. The Palmetto possibilities include former Gov. Carroll Campbell and current Gov. David Beasley. And what about Sen. Strom Thurmond? He'd make Dole look like a youngster.

[D'Amato]

And how about New York? Sen. Alfonse D'Amato delivered, muscling most of the other candidates off the ballot. Who's D'Amato's man? Gov. George Pataki.

But then again, you can take gratitude too far. Why not just make one of them party chairman? Bush did that with Lee Atwater. Walter Mondale tried to do that with Bert Lance.

The Freshmen

House Republican freshmen already have given Dole their list. The suggestions from their ranks include David McIntosh of Indiana, Sue Myrick of North Carolina and Steve Largent of Oklahoma. Largent's a football hero. And how about J.C. Watts of Oklahoma -- an African-American football hero.

Dole's choice for vice president is more important than any nominee's has ever been. Why? Because if he wins, Dole would be older than any new president has ever been.

The freshmen also put John Kasich of Ohio on their list. He represents good generational balance and he comes from a large state. Kasich, the Budget Committee chairman, is attractive and energetic and could be a serious possibility.

[Whitman] The Women

Like most Republicans, Dole's got problems with women voters. One way to counteract the gender gap might be to put a woman on the ticket.

How about Kay Bailey Hutchison, former Labor Secretary Lynn Martin or former Humanities Endowment chair Lynn Cheney?

Or Rep. Susan Molinari (R-N.Y.), who's married to the House GOP Campaign Committee chairman and due to have a baby this year? Now there's a pregnant possibility, a blessed campaign event.

At the top of every list of women is New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman. It's an important state, but Whitman supports abortion rights and thus is unacceptable to many in the GOP. She's also said she doesn't want the job.

The Outreachers

There's only one Republican who's acceptable to conservatives but also appeals to Democrats and independents: Former Housing Secretary Jack Kemp. But he's kind of quirky. What was the deal with that last-minute Forbes endorsement? He looks doubtful.

Does Dole want to reach out to Perot voters? He could try by choosing former Sen. Warren Rudman. Rudman is great on the federal deficit, but then, nobody ever got elected promising pain and sacrifice.

A Candidate With Stature

How about former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney. He's a world statesman, tested in the Persian Gulf War and clearly qualified. But does he have much voter appeal?

A Candidate With Character

Sen. John McCain could be powerful choice. He's a former Vietnam prisoner of war and what a team that would make -- Dole and McCain, two generations, two veterans, two wars, two war heroes. And six years in a P.O.W. camp may be good training for a vice president.

[Powell] A Superhero Candidate

. There's only one name on this list: Retired Gen. Colin Powell. Two words: If only.

So there's the list -- 40 names. Are there any more? Maybe.

When Bush picked Dan Quayle in 1988, he tested the theory that Americans don't vote for vice president. It worked for Bush. But it won't work for Dole.

People say the vice presidency is like the last cookie on the plate. Nobody ever wants It. But somebody always takes It. This story originally appeared on "Inside Politics."

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