May 24, 2008 — -- On a holiday weekend of backyard barbeques, there is one shindig where the guest list is getting particular attention.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is hosting three prominent Republicans at his Arizona ranch -- former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal -- prompting many to ask: Is his guest list really a list of potential running mates?
Actually, it's strictly social -- or so McCain says.
"It's just having a group of friends for Memorial Day weekend to visit us and enjoy one of the most beautiful places in America," McCain said Friday.
But that did not stop speculation that McCain is starting to focus on a running mate.
To some, the most intriguing guest is Louisiana's 36-year-old Indian-American Gov. Jindal.
"I think they have to look for a diverse candidate for vice president, which brings up somebody like Bobby Jindal, or maybe a woman -- somebody that brings diversity to the ticket," said ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd, former chief strategist for George Bush's 2004 campaign.
Political consultants say diversity on the ticket might help McCain against his likely opponent, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., who is African-American.
Crist is considered a long shot even though McCain owes him for a crucial endorsement.
And with hard feelings possibly still remaining from a bitter primary battle with McCain, Romney seemed to downplay his vice presidential chances.
"I don't think there's much likelihood that I'm on that list," Romney said Friday on Bloomberg News' "Political Capital With Al Hunt."
McCain has said he has narrowed his search for a running mate to about 20 people.