McCain’s Veepstakes Survivor: 9 Couples, 3 Contenders, 1 Weekend

By Ed O'Keefe

May 21, 2008 6:46pm

ABC News’ Ron Claiborne and Bret Hovell Report: Three elected officials widely rumored to be under consideration for the Republican vice presidential nomination will spend part of their Memorial Day weekend at the McCain compound in Sedona, Arizona, according to a campaign official.

Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Gov. Charlie Christ of Florida, and former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts have all been invited to spend some leisure time with presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

McCain campaign senior advisor Charlie Black insists the gathering is purely social.

"It has nothing whatsoever to do with the vice presidential selection process," Black said, dismissing speculation that it is a running mate audition by noting that would be "pretty awkward" to have all of the contenders together at the same time.

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McCain frequently invites friends and elected officials to the property he owns with his wife Cindy two hours north of Phoenix. Black said nine couples in all were invited this weekend, including one other elected official whom he declined to identify.

One veepstakes contender did comment on what could be called McCain’s edition of ‘Veepstakes Survivor’.

"Governor Bobby Jindal and First Lady Supriya Jindal are going to Arizona for the Memorial Day weekend to spend time with Senator John McCain and Cindy McCain at their ranch," Jindal spokesperson Melissa Sellers said in a statement released to the press. "The Governor has met with the Senator many times before and discussed the challenges facing the Gulf Coast region as communities continue to rebuild. The Governor looks forward to joining Senator McCain and his other guests this weekend, and he values this as another opportunity to meet with a national leader, and the potential next President of the United States, to discuss issues important to the future growth of Louisiana."

As Sens. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., continue their battle for the Democratic nomination, the Arizona Senator is taking three days off from his public campaign schedule for the holiday weekend.  McCain will be back on the trail Monday in New Mexico and Colorado.

ABC News’ Kate McCarthy contributed to this report.

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