Texas Republicans may have heard at least one member of their 2008 ticket at their recent convention in Houston.
Though John McCain was absent, the speakers included the two former presidential hopefuls who ought to be the finalists when he picks his running mate: Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney.
For all the talk of picking a rising GOP star - like a Bobby Jindal, Tim Pawlenty or Rob Portman - or a wild card like former business executive Carly Fiorina, McCain would be best off choosing someone with proven national experience and political assets.
A national campaign is no Sunday stroll in the park. An inexperienced running mate could create more problems than solutions. And that means starting with his top challengers for the GOP nomination.
Huckabee and Romney have decided assets and would complement McCain's national security background with experience on domestic issues. As former governors, both have executive experience and would provide ideological and geographical balance.
Their primary campaign showings will allow analysts to cite them as qualified to be president, and both have been vetted for potential peccadilloes.
Huckabee, whose campaign soared when religious conservatives gave him a stunning victory in the Iowa caucuses, would serve as a bridge to a wing of the GOP that remains cool to McCain. Though some conservatives criticized his spending record as governor and consider him soft on immigration, he would energize the religious conservatives necessary for a McCain victory.
An appealing campaigner, folksy and low-key, Huckabee fits the public's desire for a less partisan approach. But he sometimes seemed less than knowledgeable on some issues.
Romney was less appealing as a campaigner, perhaps one reason his campaign failed despite his evident intelligence and personal financial advantage. Once a business executive, he has the background on economic issues Mr. McCain lacks and is knowledgeable on health care, another key issue.
An excellent debater, Romney would be a vigorous GOP advocate, on the trail and in the inevitable vice presidential debate. He fits the traditional vice presidential "hit man" image better than Huckabee would.
And while some voters remain reluctant to vote for a Mormon, that may be less of a problem for the No. 2 person on the ticket. Besides, he could help in Western states where Democrats plan a strong bid and in crucial Michigan, where he was born and his father was a popular governor.
McCain and Romney have had a rocky relationship, which some say dates to the Arizona senator's criticism of the way his rival ran the 2002 Winter Olympics. But Romney has vigorously embraced McCain since the primaries.
Any other choice carries risk, since it's impossible to tell how a neophyte will perform in an intense campaign. There's always the possibility of the unexpected, which is one reason presidential nominees spend so much time vetting possible running mates.
For example, Pawlenty already has shown some propensity for making odd comments. He said of his wife: "She loves football; she'll go to hockey games. Now, if I could only get her to have sex with me."
Portman developed a strong reputation in the House and comes from the crucial state of Ohio. But his role as President Bush's budget director and trade representative might hamper McCain's efforts to separate himself from an unpopular president.
Jindal is seen as having a limitless future, but a 37-year-old running mate might undercut GOP efforts to portray 46-year-old Democrat Barack Obama as inexperienced.
Of three GOP women widely mentioned, Fiorina is new to politics, making her a risky choice. Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is little known and inexperienced. And Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, by far the most qualified and experienced of the trio, seems uninterested as she presses what most believe is an undeclared campaign for Texas governor in 2010.
Still, McCain may feel his underdog status requires a gamble, not a safer choice like Romney or Huckabee.