VP talk was not on the table at McCain retreat: Jindal

May 26th, 2008 - 10:00 am ICT by admin  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, May 26 (IANS) Bobby Jindal, the first Indian-American US governor, says he discussed a number of topics with the Republican presidential hopeful John McCain except the possibility of being his vice presidential running mate. “There was never any explicit talk whatsoever about a short list, about vice president, any of that,” said Jindal, Louisiana governor after spending the weekend with McCain at his Arizona ranch along with a couple of others long rumoured to be likely candidates for the number two spot.

However, the governor did say he had several one on one moments with McCain, who had besides Jindal invited former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, Florida Governor Charlie Crist for what media speculated was an audition of potential running mates.

“It was a wonderful weekend,” Jindal told WWLTV, a Louisiana channel. “John and Cindy were very gracious. Not only did we have a chance to talk to him one on one, as well as in a group, we had a chance to visit with the other senators there, the other business leaders.”

Jindal said he talked with people still needing information on Louisiana’s recovery since the storm, telling them it is a place to invest and that the business climate is changing.

Jindal said he did not know if there would be any further social type weekends like this one, but did say he is planning on seeing McCain again real soon - when Senator McCain stops in Louisiana in two weeks working the campaign trail.

Earlier on Saturday, McCain and wife Cindy took Jindal and the other guests they had invited over to celebrate the Memorial Day weekend for lunch at the nearby hilltop Jerome Grand Hotel.

With reporters setting up camp outside the presumptive nominee’s Sedona ranch to catch a glimpse of the potential running mates, McCain and his high profile guests piled into vans and SUVs for a short drive to the hotel.

Speculation continues to swirl over whether this outing is in fact an audition for potential vice presidential nominees.Both the campaign and the candidate have repeatedly denied it is such gathering, saying it is simply a weekend among friends and a chance for the McCains to thank the guests for their support.

The conservative Washington Times had Saturday editorially endorsed Jindal as the best man for the number two spot. According to The New York Times state Republican leaders across the US have given a tentative nod to Jindal, Crist and Mitt Romney, saying the trio shared several qualities that many Republican officials hoped for in a No. 2 on the ticket.

All are youthful and Washington outsiders, current or former state governors who would offer a balance to the age and 22-year Senate tenure of the 71-year-old McCain, it said.

During lunch, the McCains sat with Senator Sam Brownback and his wife, and Governor Crist and a companion, while the rest of the guests spread out at three other tables.

Dressed in casual weekend gear, the party dined on calamari, steak sandwiches, and burgers at the hotel’s restaurant, The Asylum. The hotel, formerly a hospital, is rumoured to be haunted.

McCain picked up the tab for the group and appeared noticeably irritated by the abundance of press when leaving the restaurant. But that didn’t spoil the meal for the Florida governor, who remarked that lunch was “delicious.”

Senator Joe Lieberman is also visiting the ranch but didn’t appear at the lunch. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and Governior Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota were invited along for the weekend but had scheduling conflicts, CNN said. All the three have also been mentioned among McCain’s possible running mates.

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