With John McCain sliding into the Republican presidential nomination, many are wondering who the senior Arizona senator will choose as his vice president. McCain has a wide field of candidates to choose from, and his final decision may ultimately depend on which Democrat he finds himself running against in November. Speculation is wide, but I’ve narrowed down who I believe does and doesn’t have a good chance to be McCain’s right-hand man.

Condoleezza Rice: Just when you thought you’d seen the end of the Bush administration, pundits claim Condi might secure the nomination. She brings excellent experience, having served as both secretary of state and national security advisor to President Bush. What’s more, she has wide appeal as the first black woman to serve as secretary of state. However, when asked whether or not she would accept the Republican nomination as VP, she said she has never seen herself running for an elected office in the United States. While this doesn’t completely rule her out, it is more than likely that Condi will return to teach at Stanford when she leaves the White House.

Sarah Palin: This foxy Alaskan governor is a hot contender for VP. Many consider her the Republican alternative to Hillary Clinton, bringing a down-to-earth, personal style to politics. Like McCain, she is considered a “maverick,” largely opposing big business and money ties. Since she is the first woman and youngest governor in Alaskan history, she brings an appeal that could draw the youth vote away from Barack Obama, while also chipping away at Hillary’s strong female following. Palin is a life-long member of the National Rifle Association and is staunchly pro-life. She also continues efforts to lower greenhouse gas emissions in her state. She is in favor of democratically deciding whether to create a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, though she has been receptive to gay issues. For example, she vetoed a bill that would have prevented the state of Alaska from granting benefits to gay state employees and their partners. Her tough personality would be an asset to any political campaign, especially McCain’s. Her only drawback is that she lacks any strong experience in international political affairs.

Tim Pawlenty: This Minnesota governor is rumored to be at the top of John McCain’s list for potential running mates and has become more vocal in his support for the presidential hopeful. However, he promised his constituents in 2006 he would never seek national office if he won a second term, but many Republicans are hoping he reconsiders. Pawlenty remains firm in his commitment to maintain a balanced budget without raising taxes and reformed state education requirements, while also favoring a 24-hour waiting period on abortions. His strongest appeal is his commitment to a complete immigration reform plan, countering McCain’s support of guest worker visas. This contrast could bring in many voters unsure of McCain’s conservative credentials, while proving to be just moderate enough to compliment the Arizona senator. Pawlenty’s career has also been shrouded in controversy, as many have questioned his department head appointments. His appointment to transportation commissioner openly commented that she never reads bridge inspection reports and does not have a college degree. She is considered largely to blame for Minnesota’s I-35 Mississippi River Bridge collapse in 2007, which claimed 13 lives and injured at least 100 others.

Kay Bailey Hutchison: This 64-year-old senator is immensely popular in her home state of Texas. Serving since 1993, she has consistently beat opponents in every reelection. Her strong conservative voting record on abortion and her support for dismantling a handgun ban in the District of Columbia make her very appealing. In addition, she has received more campaign contributions from oil and gas corporations than any other member of Congress and voted against removing funding from renewable and solar energy. However, she later said she supports the development of alternative fuel sources. She was selected by TheWhiteHouseProject.org as one of the top eight female politicians who could potentially take the presidency in 2008. However, she quickly dashed Republicans’ hopes for a VP run on ABC, stating she has no intention of running for vice president, instead focusing her sights on the Texas governorship in 2010.

Analysts have also speculated McCain could look to Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana. At the comparatively young age of 36, he is our nation’s youngest person and first Indian-American to hold a governorship. In addition, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist are also potentials. While there is no way to predict who will win the coveted vice presidency, McCain’s choice will bring an interesting addition to his campaign.