Now that we all know that it’s going to be McCain against Obama in November (all of us except Hillary’s most ardent supporters), the time has come to pick the vice presidential nominees.

That’s right. It’s time for national politics in this corner of U.S. 1 and we are working hard to establish our chops as a political pundit, an analyst, a potential member of the fair and balanced cable news team. Call me uninformed, call me lacking in credentials and experience, and call me on my totally erroneous prediction of a Romney-Clinton campaign just four weeks ago. Just don’t call me late for dinner or for a session in the make-up room. I deserve to look good on camera.

Yes, this is my second foray into national political commentary, and I take the plunge despite the totally wrong guesses I made on January 23. But that is one of the hallmarks of a good political commentator — getting it totally wrong one day must not stop you from taking another shot the next day. On the cable news shows being shameless is not only a good thing, sometimes it’s the only thing.

So, drum roll please, here are the vice presidential nominees.

For McCain: I’m predicting Mitt Romney. Just a week ago, when I first suggested this scenario, a friend of mine who had called the McCain-Obama showdown the same day I was picking Romney-Clinton said no way: No way would McCain bury the hatchet with Romney after their bitter primary battles. Five hours later McCain took the stage with Romney to tell the world how honored he was to receive the former Massachusetts governor’s endorsement.

But, to continue this prediction, these strange fellows will not jump into bed with each other until after McCain’s people have floated an even more dramatic matchup in the media: McCain-Rice, as in Condoleezza Rice, Bush’s secretary of state. With one fell swoop McCain and the Republicans would consider both the black and the woman that the Democrats have been bickering about.

The possibility will be squelched quickly, however. Rice will demur, noting that it’s not the right thing or the right time. McCain will agree, without saying that Rice has a problematic personal life — notably the lack of a personal life that would invite all sorts of speculation in a heated political campaign. And if it doesn’t work with Romney, McCain could turn to another governor: Tom Pawlenty of Minnesota.

For Obama. No, it will not be Hillary. Bill is reason enough. But there’s also the fact that politicians generally mean the opposite of what they say. McCain and Romney flashed their incisors at each other during their California debate prior to Super Tuesday, but ended up with an endorsement hug-in. Obama and Clinton had a love-in at their California debate — don’t believe a word of it.

So Obama looks elsewhere: John Edwards has been there and done that. Former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson would balance the ticket, but he did cozy up with Bill Clinton during the Super Bowl.

Obama, the agent of change, might want someone totally out of the political box, someone who would match McCain tactically in foreign policy. How about Wesley Clark, the retired four-star Army general and Rhodes Scholar who was a candidate in 2004. The fact that Clark was an endorser of Hillary won’t hurt, either; he can be counted on to marshal some support of the Clinton Democrats.

Now for a moment of analysis: How could Hillary have moved so quickly from the anointed shoo-in to the perennial loser, the woman who this week was described by Obama who “periodically” gets “down” when she loses, and then gets the “claws” out against her opponent?

I was pondering that question when I got an E-mail from Roxanne Rivera, creator of a website called nocryinginconstruction.com, a website aimed at women currently working or planning to work in a male-dominated industry. Rivera started her New Mexico-based construction business in 1981 with $1,200 in personal savings, and 20 years later had a $13 million business. Since we had just published our Women in Business issue on contractor Janet Lasley, I decided to listen up to Rivera.

It won’t be easy, says Rivera: If Hillary is stern, she is portrayed as an ice queen. If she shows her sensitive side, she is seen as weak or manipulative. But here’s what a woman candidate needs to do, according to this woman who made it in a man’s world:

Don’t cry. “If you are a woman in a male-dominated industry, you can’t cry,” says Rivera. “It simply raises too many questions."

Hold herself to higher standards. “She should know and keep her boundaries and show infinite grace under pressure,” says Rivera. “She should refrain from ridiculing or bashing other women or men. If she does these things, it will be easier for her to win people over.”

Don’t be afraid to say no. “Women tend to answer every question asked of them because they do not want to be perceived as incompetent or uncooperative,” Rivera says. “Sometimes silence will speak louder than words.”

Don’t try to think like a man. “Hillary shouldn’t try to start thinking like a man in order to figure out how to appeal to more male voters. If she does, they’ll know in a second what is going on and will immediately call her out for being insincere.”

Learn the intricacies of male/female dynamics. “Here’s what I have learned about men and women during my career: I think men benefit more from male/female relationships than women do,” says Rivera. “Men enjoy the nurturance of these relationships and enjoy ‘confiding’ in women. Women are less brutally honest and direct than men.”

That’s only a fraction of the advice offered to the beleaguered Clinton. It got me thinking: It is certainly easier to be a commentator than a candidate, especially a woman candidate.

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