Many of the current strategy discussions are centered on not falling into the traps McCain did: looking wobbly as a leader and weak on the economy in the final weeks of the campaign. The private discussions include ruling out any vice presidential possibilities who could be seen as even remotely risky or unprepared; wrapping the entire campaign around economic issues, knowing this topic alone will swing undecided voters in the final days; and, slowly but steadily, building up Romney as a safe and competent alternative to President Barack Obama.

McCain, according to Romney advisers, blew it on all three scores. And of the three, the most conscious effort by Romney’s team to do things differently will be in the V.P. selection process. One Republican official familiar with the campaign’s thinking said it will be designed to produce a pick who is safe and, by design, unexciting – a deliberate anti-Palin. The prized pick, said this official: an “incredibly boring white guy.”…

Other names will be floated but, under the campaign’s current theory of the case, are long shots: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is said by insiders to want it the most and also to annoy some aides with his aggressiveness; Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who is not being as seriously considered as popularly believed because aides don’t see him as experienced enough or appropriately vetted. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez are also seen as too untested and lacking the national experience that would assure officials at Romney headquarters in Boston that they weren’t walking into another Palin problem.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has a strong vibe with Romney, who is said to like the idea of running with a younger, more exciting conservative. But Ryan would be such a lightning rod for the left that he could violate the most basic requirement for a running mate: Do no harm, a chief reason many Romney aides are less enthusiastic about him than the boss is, people in the campaign said.