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Thursday, August 14, 2008  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Every week updates the map of the electoral college. Here’s the most recent map which puts Obama with 298 EVs and McCain with 240:

The weak Obama states are: Colorado, Nevada, New Hampshire, and Ohio, which represent 38 electoral votes. Move those four states into McCain’s column, and he becomes the president.

Given that the swirl around the Ridge story from yesterday continued at this morning, this is the map tokeep in mind when considering Senator McCain’s choice.

The vice presidential nominee most likely to impact those four states most likely to shift towards McCain from Obama is Mitt Romney, who won three of the four GOP contests in them. Romney’s vacation home is in New Hampshire. His ties to the mountain west from the years he spent guiding the 2002 Winter Olympics as well as the sizeable LDS communities in Nevada and Colorado argue for his selection. Romney’s primary help to the ticket would be in Michigan, where he was of course born and raised and where his father and mother are still remembered warmly, but Romney’s ability to talk convincingly about the auto industry and economic revival generally would also help across the border in the Buckeye State.

The next most likely battlegrounds include Michigan, but the other “moderate Obama” states that McCain could target include Iowa, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin –states which Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty could help in. Secreatry Ridge could help in PA of course, and remains very popular there as I confirmed on my trip there over the past three days, but not enough t make the Keystone State a lock for McCain, and the cost to the overall effort of a pro-choice nominee would be significant.

Both Romney and Pawlenty have been in knock-down political battles before and are thoroughly vetted by the sort of political combat that brings everything to the surface. Both could help raise money for the party machinery, though Romney gets the edge over Pawlenty there because of the vast nature of his network. Both have traveled abroad extensively and both have long management experience that will contrast sharply with Obama’s almost non-existent resume. Both have debated able opponents and done well, though Romney again has a lot of experience in the high stakes national debate that will dominate three or four days of the election cycle this fall.

McCain can indeed win the presidency with an excellent campaign in the fall, the first major decision of which will be the veep selection. Since it is obvious that he truly wants to be president, and because the risk to the country is so large from his losing, I expect McCain will pick one of these two men and probably Romney on the Monday after the Democrats leave Denver.

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