I have long been an advocate, along only it seems with Chuck Todd in this town, of presidential candidates either campaigning in tandem during the primaries with their vice-presidential running mates or at least picking their veeps as soon as they have locked down the nomination. (Todd and I both wrote pieces -- he for the Hotline, me for the Washington Post -- way back in summer 2003 making the fuller case for early running mate selection.) Among the many other failures of John McCain's campaign was the fact that he wasted all that extra time since he wrapped up the nomination in early spring while Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton clawed each other nearly to death for the Democratic nomination.
But then came news last week from Bob Novak suggesting McCain might not wait until the traditional moment, after the Democratic convention in order to generate a post-Denver bump, but instead might boldly pick his running mate now. This week comes speculation from Noam Scheiber at the New Republic that not only may McCain move first, but there are some signals indicating his choice will be Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
Whatever McCain does, the Fix's Chris Cillizza and Todd (who has been saying so for two weeks now) are right: Barack Obama ought to make his pick as soon as possible, before the Olympics open on Aug. 8. Having a running mate provides not just the immediate media boomlet, but constant local and often national campaign coverage of that candidate-as-surrogate, plus his/her spouse from this point forward -- and it never hurts to have a second person raising money, earning free media and bashing your opponent. Besides, the Democratic convention is first, so there's no reason for Obama to hold off until the weekend before the convention as a way to burst any post-RNC boomlet. So, other than the time to finish fully vetting and doing the background checks, why wait?