Okay, so Bloomberg’s not running…

Okay, so I got it wrong about Mike Bloomberg. Hizzoner squelched rumors of a White House bid last month, writing in the New York Times that he will suffice to “continue to work to steer the national conversation away from partisanship and toward unity; away from ideology and toward common sense; away from sound bites and toward substance.”

That should just about put an end to Bloomberg’s political career. He’ll be 70 at the next presidential election in 2012, and Rudy Giuliani’s example of a once-popular, high-profile New York mayor who couldn’t mount a serious challenge for the Republican nomination will seriously dissuade Bloomberg from throwing his billions at a campaign in four years.

Predictably, he’s been mentioned as a vice presidential candidate on McCain’s ticket, but I don’t see it happening. His break with the Republican Party was so public, and he’s been so critical of “the system” that it would be hard for him to retrace his footsteps to the party, and it is even more unclear whether or not the party would accept him back if he applied for re-instatement.

Furthermore, McCain doesn’t need Bloomberg as a VP. The two are nearly identical candidates – probably the reason Mike B. stayed out of the race – and McCain needs a little variety to expand his voter base, as well as a way to neutralize Barack Obama’s appeal to black voters or Hilary Clinton’s presumed appeal to women.

Early eyes should focus on JC Watts, a conservative former representative from Oklahoma and the last black Republican to serve in Congress. Watts is a devout Christian and a former church youth leader, and since retiring from the House of Representatives he has demonstrated his commitment to public service, serving on the national board of Boy Scouts of America, the United States Military Academy and more. Apart from his obvious appeal to black voters, he could shore up McCain’s appeal in the Bible Belt

Another potential running mate is Susan Collins, the popular senator from Maine. She’s the perfect age to stage a run for vice president (55), and her moderate voting record has caused some conservatives to label her a RINO (Republican In Name Only).  “Green” groups have praised her concern for environmental issues, her strong support of abortion rights has irked religiously conservative Republicans, and she is known as a voice of moderation amongst Congressional Republicans. More importantly, she has voted against Republican majorities on several occasions, showing she’s committed to doing what she considers to be the right thing, even at the expense of party unity. Here, too, she would not only appeal to many women voters, as well as shore up McCain’s campaign in a critical region of the country – the northeast.

In any event, McCain is sure to wait until after the Democratic ticket is set. With several highly-qualified black and female candidates to choose from, he can comfortably wait to see who his opposition will be, and choose a running mate accordingly.

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