PHOENIX -- John McCain's upcoming Memorial Day weekend getaway with three prominent vice-presidential possibilities has rekindled intrigue about his Republican running mate.
McCain, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, has invited 10 couples to his family's rustic cabin near Sedona.
The guest list includes political allies such as Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, as well as Mitt Romney, his erstwhile White House rival and former Massachusetts governor.
Those three names reliably appear on various vice-presidential lists compiled by political experts and pundits, but McCain campaign insiders insisted that VP screening isn't on the menu at this get-together.
"This is a social weekend, like the McCains do occasionally," said Charlie Black, a senior McCain adviser and strategist who is expected to attend the function. "Among the couples are Charlie Crist, Bobby Jindal, Mitt Romney and their wives. But it's just social and has nothing to do with (the) VP (search) whatsoever, and that's it."
Another McCain aide added: "It's probably pretty hard to do VP vetting when you're manning the grill and barbecue. It's a purely social visit, and the VP-vetting process is not on the agenda whatsoever."
The McCains' Friday-through-Sunday gathering also is expected to include Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; Joe Lieberman, I-Conn.; and Sam Brownback, R-Kan. Business titans Fred Smith of FedEx and Meg Whitman, formerly of eBay, also are expected to attend. McCain has mentioned from the campaign stump that he would like his presidential Cabinet to tap the business world, saying that government bureaucracies could use a dose of private-sector ingenuity and know-how.
Since emerging as the GOP pick for president, McCain has huddled several times at his cabin with senior advisers, top fundraisers and other political friends. In March, McCain treated the traveling media corps to a Sunday afternoon barbecue. McCain also hosted political allies that weekend, including Graham, Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. and former Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas.
McCain has characterized his vice-presidential selection process as in a preliminary stage.
Traditionally, presidential candidates wait until their party's national convention, or close to it, before leaking word of a vice-presidential pick. This year's Republican National Convention is Sept. 1-4 in Minneapolis-St. Paul. The front-loaded 2008 presidential race has prompted speculation that McCain may announce his running mate before then.
Black said the campaign hasn't considered its options yet.
"We have not talked about timing," Black said. "McCain is thinking about the process, but we're really not talking about it."
John McCain has invited a number of politicians and executives to spend the weekend at his cabin in Cornville, Ariz., near Sedona. Among those scheduled to attend:
• Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan.
• Charlie Crist, Florida governor, Republican.
• Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
• Bobby Jindal, Louisiana governor, Republican.
• Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn.
• Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential candidate.
• Fred Smith, chairman, president and chief executive of FedEx.
• Meg Whitman, former president and CEO of eBay.
Dan Nowicki, The Arizona Republic