LATE THIS WEEK An announcement on Thursday or Friday would have some of the same benefits. And it would overlap with only the last few days of the Olympic Games, most likely giving it heavier news media attention.

By coming at the end of the week, it would also serve as a setup for the Sunday news talk shows and the next week ahead. First impressions are critical, as Dan Quayle proved. A late Friday announcement would give journalists little time to investigate before the shows.

Of course, that process of examination would begin in earnest the following week. Reporters would have plenty of time to dig through the background of the vice-presidential selection in the weeks before the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., which starts Aug. 27.

That is one of the downsides to an earlier announcement. By the time the convention rolls around, the vice-presidential pick has already been picked over. That lessens the excitement going into the convention.