Keating Denies He's Bush's Pick, as Rumors Abound

By Cheryl K. Chumley | July 7, 2008 | 8:26 PM EDT

( - Speculation abounds that Texas Governor George W Bush is due to announce his choice for vice-president within the next few days, despite campaign organizers who claim the list of potentials remains extensive.

"We haven't released any information" about particular vice-presidential candidates, one Bush for President campaign official said. "The list is still pretty long."

Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating's name surfaced on the Drudge Report website as Bush's "de facto nominee," but spokespersons for both governors denied that report.

"The governor is still in the process of choosing," said Ray Sullivan, another Bush 2000 campaign spokesperson. "He is talking to Dick Cheney regularly and to his closest advisors. People should expect a decision soon . . . either before or during the convention."

Phil Bacharach, deputy press secretary for Keating's office, said the governor had not even spoken with Bush for months.

"It's something we really can't remark on," Bacharach said, in reference to whether there was any indication Keating was at the top of Bush's vice-presidential list. "We're just watching the speculation and media barrage like everyone else.

"Governor Bush has indicated over and over there are only a small handful of people who really know who is on the list," he continued. "[But Keating] has not even spoken to Governor Bush in the past few months."

Keating, in a press conference at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, said he would support any candidate Bush picked - even if that person supported legal abortion - but did not elaborate on his chances for selection.

Keating is serving his second term as governor, and was an FBI agent and prosecutor before being elected to the state House and later the Oklahoma Senate. He was also an assistant secretary of the Treasury and an associate attorney general under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush, respectively.

Keating, however, may not be the state's top offering for Bush, if a CNN July 12 report holds true. Oklahoma Rep. J.C. Watts, according to an Internet interactive game, secured the title by besting retired Gen. Colin Powell, 59 percent to 41 percent.

The game, in which web users chose from 32 potential vice presidential candidates in a series of matchups resembling the NCAA college basketball tournament, began in June. CNN reported that Watts had been expected to place fourth, behind Sen. Connie Mack (R-FL), Sen. Fred Thompson (R-TN), and Keating.