jindal.jpgVeepstakes wise, John McCain’s biggest decision may be whether to pick a social moderate who would appeal to swing voters but alienate the Christian Right–a Charlie Crist or Tom Ridge–or someone who would clearly excite the Christian Right, a Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, or Bobby Jindal. Of the second category, God-o-Meter thinks Jindal might be McCain’s most likely choice.
While Huckabee would get McCain evangelical voters, he wouldn’t get other kinds of voters that McCain wants for his big-tent vision of Republicanism. Mitt Romney’s a hit with Religious Right leaders, but rank-and-file religious conservatives are still wary of him, both because of his past social liberalism and (unfortunately, in God-o-Meter eyes) his Mormon faith.
Jindal, meanwhile is a Christian Right golden boy but doesn’t wear it on his sleeve. He’s a lot like George W. Bush in that way. And his penchant for campaigning as an economic conservative first and foremost–unlike, say Huckabee–means his style would mesh nicely with McCain’s.
The Wall Street Journal captures this possible McCain/Jindal gel in its portrait of them campaigning together in Louisiana:

Gov. Jindal has succeeded in the state at gaining the backing of social conservatives and pro-business fiscal hawks, while appealing to moderate suburbanites — the formula many Republicans believe Sen. McCain must achieve to win the presidency.
Gov. Jindal has done it partly by making clear he personally embraces social conservative orthodoxies such as opposition to abortion and gay marriage — but soft-pedaling them in public. While running for governor in 2007 (he narrowly lost an earlier bid for the office in 2003), he rarely raised such hot-button issues on the stump. Instead, he campaigned largely on free-market themes such as cutting taxes to stimulate growth, and a populist pledge, honed from his days as a state and federal technocrat, to solve problems. Gov. Jindal, a double major in public policy and biology at Brown University, who passed up acceptances at both law school and medical school to be a Rhodes Scholar, won the election running away.
But that strategy may be hard to pull off in the glare of a national candidacy when his views on issues such as abortion and religion in schools would certainly be meticulously examined. The Louisiana governor, who converted to Catholicism from Hinduism in college, is against abortion in nearly all circumstances and supports teaching “intelligent design” in public schools. As a congressman, he voted to build a fence at the Mexico border.

There’s one other Jindal-like possibility for McCain: Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, another social conservative who’s not as up front about it as Huckabee and not as hard to believe about it as Romney. God-o-Meter puts its money on McCain picking Jindal or Pawlenty. Unless, of course, he really does plan to write off the Christian Right in this election. Then he’ll pick Crist.


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