The Daily Caller

The Daily Caller
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, accompanied by Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., speaks to a group of workers at Nationwide Insurance Company, Wednesday Nov. 23, 2011, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Steve Pope) Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, accompanied by Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., speaks to a group of workers at Nationwide Insurance Company, Wednesday Nov. 23, 2011, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Steve Pope)  

GOP senators dish on vice presidential prospects — including their own

The normally loquacious Senate Republican caucus is being uncharacteristically mum about whom they think presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney should pick to play Robin to his Batman.

That is, with one exception: Arizona Sen. John McCain.

“I think there are some very highly qualified people like [Florida Sen. Marco] Rubio and [Ohio Sen. Rob] Portman and [New Hampshire Sen.] Kelly Ayotte and a number of others,” McCain told The Daily Caller before his party’s policy lunch in the Capitol on Tuesday.

“I think he has a pretty good field to choose from.”

McCain said he didn’t think that Romney needed a proverbial “game-changer” pick and wouldn’t comment on whether he thought Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul, whose more isolationist foreign policy is opposed to McCain’s, was a worthy option.

“I think that’s entirely up to Mitt,” McCain said when asked about Paul. “It’s really a decision he has to make.”

But other than the GOP 2008 presidential nominee, every other senator TheDC caught up with before and after the policy lunch demurred on offering suggestions to Romney about whom he should pick to be the GOP VP nominee. (RELATED: Full coverage of the Romney campaign)

Asked to respond to her name being raised as a potential running mate, Ayotte dodged the question from TheDC as she hopped into an elevator off the Senate floor.

“I have to go talk to some school kids and get my picture taken,” she responded.

When TheDC followed up by asking the first-term senator what she would say if the school kids asked her the same question, Ayotte smiled and said, “Bye, guys.”

South Dakota Sen. John Thune, speaking to a gathering of reporters, played it cool when TheDC asked him about his interest in being Romney’s vice presidential pick. “I’m not interested,” he said. “I have a job — a day job I like.”

Asked if he’d say no if asked by Romney to serve, Thune let out a laugh and said, “All I’m going to say is there is a process now that [Romney] and his team are putting into place, and I want to be respectful of that.”

“Like I said,” he added, “I’ve seen a lot of names of people that I think would be really good, really qualified and do a great job. I hope he’ll pick one of them.”

But Thune wouldn’t list specific names. “I don’t want to hurt anybody’s chances by singling anybody out,” he said. “I think everybody’s kind of familiar with that list and they all bring some pretty good attributes.”

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham held court outside the policy lunch, answering questions on a wide range of topics. But he wasn’t particularly interested in talking about who should be Republican vice-presidential nominee.

“He’s not short of people recommending,” Graham said of Romney. “I’ll just stay out of that right now,” he added with a chuckle.

Likewise, other Republican senators refused to get specific about whom they hope Romney will consider to be his running mate.

“I hope he’ll pick the best person,” Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions said in an interview.

“He’s perfectly capable of making that selection on his own,” Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch said. “I’ll be happy with whoever he picks.”

Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson also declined to reveal who he’d like to see picked, telling TheDC of Romney’s choices: “He’s got a really long list of good folks.”

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