When it comes to senators hoping to make history with their presidential bids, Hillary Rodham Clinton (who would be the first woman to be president) and Barack Obama (who would be the first black president) are not the only ones. John McCain, 71, is hoping to become the oldest candidate ever elected to a first term in the White House.
The quest to win the presidency at an age when he would be too old to be a commercial airline pilot or even a judge in some states has already led Mr. McCain to adopt a more grueling campaign schedule, and a more vigorous style, than several of his younger rivals. Now that Mr. McCain is the presumptive Republican nominee, political analysts say, his age will most likely factor into his selection of a running mate.
Some suggested Mr. McCain might want to tap a younger running mate to balance the ticket, particularly if he were to face a young opponent like Mr. Obama, 46. Others said his age would simply heighten his need to choose somebody whom voters would feel comfortable with as president should anything happen to him. (Not to be morbid, but eight vice presidents have succeeded presidents who died in office.)
Mr. McCain said in a recent interview that he had not even settled on how the vice presidential selection process would work, let alone whom it might select, but added, "We all know that the highest priority is someone who can take your place."
The potential import of Mr. McCain's choice of a running mate has prompted a political parlor game of who would be the best fit for the ticket. Quite a few of the names being bandied about are those of politicians in their 40s and 50s, including Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, 47; Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida, 51, whose well-timed endorsement helped Mr. McCain win the crucial swing-state's primary; Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina, 47; and Rob Portman, 52, a former Ohio congressman and director of the Office of Management and Budget