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Cantor's VP Shot? Long, Observers Say


Call it a buzz kill.

The National Journal, The Washington Post, the Richmond Times-Dispatch and a flurry of bloggers all have made recent mentions of Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Henrico, as a possible Republican vice-presidential nominee. When it comes to handicapping, operatives and experts remain skeptical of his chances.

"I would say it is very to extremely unlikely," University of Virginia political science professor Larry Sabato writes in an e-mail.

Supporters argue that his demographic profile contrasts well with Sen. John McCainA.,ª™s, the all-but-official GOP presidential nominee. At 44, Cantor is much younger than the 71-year-old, and his position as the only Jewish Republican in the House could bring diversity to the ticket.

The National Journal calls him "young, charismatic, conservative, strong on domestic policy, and a favorite of the Religious Right." Those traits arenA.,ª™t enough, according to Sabato.

"McCain is already doing reasonably well among Jewish Americans," he writes. "He doesnA.,ª™t need Cantor." As for McCain A.,ª?VbCrLf "soon to be 72" A.,ª?VbCrLf Sabato believes he "must pick someone who automatically passes the presidential test. Cantor does not."

State Delegate Manoli Loupassi, R-Richmond, has similar reservations and envisions someone with executive experience, such as Mitt Romney, as a more natural fit.

"I think Eric is a great congressman and a really good man," Loupassi says. "It would be very surprising" if he was chosen, he adds. "IA.,ª™m not sure how well he would be known nationally."

Cantor, the minority deputy whip, has a powerful party leadership position and a fundraising machine. His seat, which includes parts of Richmond and the counties of Chesterfield, Henrico, Hanover and Goochland, is viewed as safe, but Loupassi says his name recognition doesnA.,ª™t run much beyond the boundaries of his district.

Although Virginia hasnA.,ª™t voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1964 A.,ª?VbCrLf the year after Cantor was born A.,ª?VbCrLf the state looks increasingly ready to break that streak, says Daniel J. Palazzolo, a professor of political science at the University of Richmond.

"There are upsides. I do think Virginia is definitely a battleground state," Palazzolo says. CantorA.,ª™s "been a big supporter of McCain, got out front pretty early."

Still, he says, "thatA.,ª™s a long shot."

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