Washington Babylon — February 27, 2008, 2:04 pm

Tom Ridge for McCain’s Veep?

Last week, the Washington Post’s “In the Loop” column asked readers to predict who John McCain and Barack Obama would pick as their vice presidential nominees. The Obama contest is still open (and of course, Hillary Clinton still has an outside chance at winning the nomination), but the Post today published the list of picks for McCain’s veep.

Top choices include Michael Bloomberg, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and Condoleezza Rice. Also tapped were Democrat Joseph Lieberman and, for obvious reasons, two top Republicans from Florida, Governor Charlie Crist and Senator Mel Martinez.

Here’s a name that didn’t come up in the Post’s poll, but which I heard a smart Democrat mention last night, and which was seconded as a strong choice by a Republican I spoke with this morning: Tom Ridge, the former Pennsylvania Governor and President George W. Bush’s first Office of Homeland Security Advisor. Ridge is close to McCain and was announced as one of his presidential campaign’s national co-chairman back in February of 2007.

Ridge is a decorated Vietnam War veteran, and hence plays to McCain’s preferred image as a national security hawk and solid commander-in-chief (the G.O.P. will seek to portray the Democratic nominee, particularly if it’s Obama, as inexperienced and untested during turbulent times. Finally, Florida is obviously a critical state, but so is Pennsylvania–which John Kerry won by a narrow margin in 2004.

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