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McCain VP: It's Pawlenty!

Will Governor Tim Pawlenty become our nation's next vice president? It's hard to keep track of all the many factors at play. Each week, the VP Pawlenty Meter (TM) provides an odds sheet to ensure you make your best bet.

OK, first a confession: We have no inside dope, so we don't really know for sure that Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty will be chosen by McCain this week. Which means we may very well look just as foolish as the rest of the media when they were prematurely forecasting Obama's pick. But the stars are certainly seeming to line up in his favor.

The first bit of evidence that T-Paw is the chosen one comes in the form of a McCain campaign email sent to Minnesota Republicans yesterday announcing a late-September fundraiser that will feature the Veep. Jonathan Martin at Politco has the scoop:

The e-mail invite touts the "Special Guest" as "The Vice Presidential Nominee."

The event is to be held Sept. 22 at the Hilton Minneapolis.

Major cautionary note/"To Be Sure" line: There is no reason to think that Mitt Romney or somebody else couldn't help raise money for the party ... But nobody would be a draw among Minnesota Republicans more than the Gopher State's own Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

McCain's reaction to Obama's selection of Biden also would seem to favor Pawlenty over Mitt Romney.

Within moments of the announcement, the McCain machine rolled out its line of attack on the Obama/Biden ticket. In addition to suggesting that Hillary got snubbed--an obvious grab for the Hillary supporters who still have wounded feelings--McCain also alleged that choosing Biden was a betrayal of Obama's core principles. Biden is a creature of Washington (as is McCain), which doesn't exactly comport with Barack's message of "Change."

Yet if McCain were to pick Romney, he would be doing exactly what he's accusing Obama of doing: choosing political expediency over loyalty to his own beliefs. Pawlenty has been one of McCain's most ardent supporters and friends, while there's no love lost between McCain and Romney. Siding with an enemy just to get elected doesn't sound like the kind of thing a straight-talkin' maverick would do.

McCain has also released attack ads featuring criticism of Obama from Biden and Hillary during the Democratic primary. Selecting Romney would hand Obama's campaign the same loaded gun. Meanwhile, T-Paw has been nothing but effusive in his praise for McCain from the moment he announced he was running for president.

Pawlenty, whose visit to Pennsylvania might be a trial run for a national campaign, remains tight-lipped about the decision, but he did seem to subtly deep-six Romney and Gov. Tom Ridge's chances in this interview published Sunday:

The way I look at it, Sen. McCain has said his administration including the senior leaders of the administration would share and reflect his priorities and values for the country. If you want any more on that you would have to ask Sen. McCain.

T-Paw is also throwing down the gauntlet and spoiling for a fight with Biden:

Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, long-rumored to be on Sen. John McCain’s short list for vice president, told CNN’s “Late Edition” he isn’t concerned about newly chosen Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware.

Calling Biden “long-winded,” Pawlenty told host Wolf Blitzer, “I think any of the people that Senator McCain is thinking about for vice president will be more than able to hold their own against Senator Biden.” The Republican vice presidential nominee will get his or her chance to face Biden during the vice presidential debate on October 2 in St. Louis, Missouri.

We've been following the veep speculation around T-Paw for quite some time. In our most recent edition of VP Pawlenty Watch, we raised the Meter to Red Alert for the first time in its history. In light of recent information, we are maintaining Red Alert status:

McCain VP: It's Pawlenty!

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