Wisdom: Don't expect GOP VP pick soon, but Dems sooner than later

Wiser heads have prevailed in the John McCain campaign in terms of strategic timing for the announcement of McCain’s running mate, according to Politico.  Over the last couple of weeks, rumors have floated that McCain would announce his decision early in order to gain media attention during a Barack Obama lovefest.  Now, though, the campaign has decided to follow conventional strategy, in the most literal sense:

John McCain‘s extended circle is divided on whether he should announce his running mate in the immediate days ahead—but the Republican is more likely to wait for Barack Obama to announce his choice first, according to advisers.

While McCain’s aides are tight-lipped about revealing anything related to what has so far been a leak-free process, some of his advisers state a clear preference for not firing the valuable political bullet too soon.

By waiting to make a major announcement in the window after Obama’s much-anticipated acceptance speech August 28 at Invesco Field and before he receives his party’s nomination the following week, for example, McCain would be able to quickly shift the focus of the race following the Democratic convention.

Both candidates only get one shot at the media attention their selection of running mates will bring.  Timing is critical to succeeding in starving the opponent of oxygen when needed most.  The McCain team thought that it might make sense to announce it while Obama traveled abroad, fearful that the fawning media attention Obama received would boost him out of sight.  However, not only did Obama’s edge quickly dissipate, Obama wound up in worse position afterwards than when he left for Europe and the war zones.

The timing for McCain is much more obvious than with Obama.  Thanks to a strange decision by the DNC, Obama only has three days to enjoy the media afterglow before he gets forgotten in the coverage of the Republican convention.  If McCain announces the VP choice the morning after Obama’s acceptance speech, he will not only own the weekend cycle leading into the convention but cut short the free media exposure of Obama after the convention.

For Obama, the VP announcement could come any time.  In fact, with his slide in the polls threatening to make 2008 look like 1972 and the McGovern campaign, it might make sense to announce this week.  If he doesn’t pick Hillary, it gives her supporters more time to “get over it” than if it happens at the convention.  The Democrats don’t want drama in Denver — they want a Unityfest, and to get there, they need to end the speculation quickly.

Democrats need a momentum shift now, not later.  Don’t be surprised if Obama announces it this week.