I don’t know what’s more alarming, the fact that they’re so dim to public sentiment about the war that they’d consider putting one of its architects on the ticket or the fact that they think Texas might be in play next year and need him as an insurance policy. Surely also-rans like Brownback and Hunter aren’t so far in denial about their chances that they’d be thinking about running mates, so it’s got to be three of these five: Rudy, Romney, McCain, Fred, and Huckabee. Probably the first three, just because they’re suspect for one reason or another among conservatives and could use some of Franks’s deep red state appeal. That’ll shore up the gimme states, but in the battlegrounds the Iraq association could be toxic — unless the nominees are already planning to shift away from the war and want Franks on board for when they do to act as a military shield and insulate them from criticism among the base.

It’s not a completely horrendous idea for Mitt but Rudy and McCain are both so hawkish that running with a general would make a lot of independents leery about militarization. Not sure what they’re thinking here.

Meanwhile, Politico says Fred! Fred… has about three weeks after he declares to make a go of it financially. If he can’t and he’s still scrounging for cash come October 1 with the first primaries possibly just 10-12 weeks away, he’s on life support. He’s already making friends in New Hampshire, in fact, by ducking the September 5 Fox debate:

New Hampshire Republican Chairman Fergus Cullen said he is “disappointed” that Fred Thompson will apparently not appear a party-sponsored debate next week…

“I think they are making a tactical mistake and a strategic mistake by not participating in the debate. I hope they change their mind and if they do we will rearrange the stage,” Cullen said. “I am reminded of 1999 when Governor Bush skipped the Dartmouth debate in October. They sent some message about the imperial campaign. I think the Bush campaign would trace their unraveling in New Hampshire with their decision to blow off that debate.”

Bush did okay in the end. But then, he was working with pros.