In the much-hyped search for John McCain's vice presidential candidate, former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge often surfaced as a possibility.
The two entered Congress together in 1982. McCain called Ridge a "beloved friend" and "one of the ideal Americans that I have ever known" in a recent Wilkes-Barre, Pa., appearance. And the Republican presidential candidate could use the former Pennsylvania governor's help turning the Keystone State into a red state.
But conservatives scoffed at the notion that McCain, already viewed with suspicion in some conservative circles, would choose a running mate who supports abortion rights. And McCain hinted Monday, perhaps unintentionally, that Ridge might not be on his short list.
During a visit to a General Electric plant in Erie, Pa., with Ridge in earshot, McCain was asked what he would do in his first 90 days in office. He replied, "Call Tom Ridge to Washington from whatever vacation he's taking and get him to work."
On the first day of his two-day Pennsylvania swing, McCain also couldn't resist mentioning Barack Obama's controversial comment at a Bay Area fundraiser this year that some voters in Pennsylvania and elsewhere cling to guns and religion in troubled times.
Telling the Erie audience that he would be a frequent visitor, McCain said he planned to travel town to town "to tell people that we know they love the 2nd Amendment and cherish their religion because they believe in America, because they believe in the strength and greatness of America."
-- Seema Mehta and Maeve Reston