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Fox News, citing RNC sources, now reports that John McCain will not pick a pro-choice running mate:

As speculation grows around who John McCain will select as his vice presidential running mate next week, Republican National Committee officials said Tuesday that McCain is no longer considering former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge.

Several sources at the RNC told FOX News that in the last 36 hours, senior McCain advisers and aides have told RNC officials that McCain “got the message” last week that choosing a running mate who supports abortion rights would not be helpful.

Note that all of Fox’s sources are from the RNC — nobody with the McCain campaign itself. Nevertheless, with this having come from the right’s most trusted news source, the perception will certainly be out there that McCain has thumbed-down the idea of picking a pro-choicer — which means that it would look doubly like a betrayal if he now did.

In other words, as difficult as it was for McCain to pick a pro-choice running mate before, it just became a whole lot more difficult now. That may have been precisely the purpose of the story; it’s sort of the Xiang Yu strategy of burning part of your own fleet in order to achieve a desired end.

As such, it sure looks like Ridge is off the list, as are Lieberman and Meg Whitman.

Nate Silver is the founder and editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight.

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