Cantor for VP?

If John McCain really wants to squash any ‘bounce’ that Barack Obama receives from his Middle East trip, then he’ll actually announce his vice presidential selection this week. But if all he wants to do is throw up some dust while saving his announcement for later (which Jim Geraghty suggests is what’s happening), he couldn’t do a much better job than he’s doing now.

In the last few days we’ve seen stories that McCain is preparing to announce his vice presidential selection, followed almost immediately by other reports to the contrary. Recently, sources have said that the pick is Mitt Romney. There’s word of an event in Louisiana after McCain meets with Jindal (although Jindal says he hasn’t even confirmed that McCain is coming to Louisiana). McCain himself offers effusive words of praise for Tim Pawlenty, at the same time that Pawlenty is busy at McCain’s headquarters. And today comes word that McCain seems to be quite friendly with Eric Cantor:

Start the chattering: Word out of the Hamptons set from this weekend is that Rep. Eric I. Cantor (R-Va.), a young fiscal conservative in the House leadership who has been a champion fundraiser for the McCain campaign, had a private LUNCH WITH SENATOR McCAIN while they were in New York to raise money over the weekend, joined by the congressman’s wife, Diana. At one point, McCain and Cantor were seen laughing and passing a cell phone back and forth. It’s not a BBQ in SEDONA, but it has people scratching their heads.Also, Big Apple Playbookers tattle that CANTOR HAS BEEN ASKED TO HEAD UP A NEW YORK CITY FUNDRAISER FOR McCAIN WITH SENATOR LIEBERMAN. Date TBA.

Joel Mowbray writes today on the strengths that Cantor would bring to the ticket:

The Virginia Republican is a stalwart conservative, and he happens to be the only Jewish GOP member in the U.S. House. Working in his favor, he’s got a smooth delivery and a soft, but distinct Southern accent. With boyish good looks and the requisite attractive family, he exudes wholesomeness. Not to be discounted, either, is that he is quite close to McCain personally. At a mega-dollar fundraiser in the posh Hamptons this past weekend, for example, Cantor was one of the few “friends” who didn’t buy his way in.Plenty of insiders see Cantor as one of the best faces in the GOP. In a recent National Journal anonymous poll of three dozen Republican congressmen and senators, Cantor received the second-highest number of votes — behind only Mitt Romney — for whom they would like as McCain’s veep pick. When Bush spoke in Israel this May, the influential Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention told several members of the American delegation that he would like to see Cantor as vice president.

Apart from boosting McCain among conservatives and with Jewish voters, Cantor would also help lock Virginia up for the GOP — a not inconsequential benefit. So is he really a contender, or is this just a head fake?