With Mitt Romney now the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, speculation has turned to who will be joining him on the GOP ticket.
Some area residents are watching with interest, saying the selection could influence how they vote in November. Others aren't concerned and say they've either made up their mind or won't be swayed by Romney's choice of a running mate.
Republican Debbie Roberts, 45, of Marietta, expects to vote for Romney.
"It would have to be a really disastrous pick" to change her mind, she said.
Marietta resident Pam Grady, 53, described herself as a "die-hard Democrat" but said she's undecided about her vote for president. An appealing choice of running mate by Romney could sway her to choose him over President Barack Obama, but she said none of the names on a list of potential contenders jumped out at her.
Of the dozen or so that have been mentioned, she said Sen. Rob Portman would be her pick.
Potential Romney running mates?
Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire.
Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida.
Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey.
Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana.
Gov. Mary Fallin of Oklahoma.
Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina.
Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana.
Gov. Susana Martinez of New Mexico.
Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia.
Tim Pawlenty, former governor of Minnesota.
Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio.
Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. secretary of state.
Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.
Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
Rick Santorum, former Pennsylvania senator.
Source: Times research
"Because he's an Ohioan, and I think he would know our needs as a state," she said.
Portman, a first-term senator who previously served in the House of Representatives and as director of the Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush, is believed to be one of the favorites to become Romney's running mate. Portman has indicated in recent interviews that he's not seeking another office, but he didn't say he wouldn't run if asked.
Belpre Township resident Keith Allen, 31, likes Portman but questions whether he has enough name recognition to be on the ticket.
A Libertarian, Allen said he plans to vote for Romney but still believes the choice of running mate is an important one.
"I think it speaks broadly to the type of administration he's going to have," he said. "I'd like to see someone that's definitely interested in economic policy, kind of your (Wisconsin Rep.) Paul Ryan-type ... that offers some solutions."
Allen said his first choice would be someone like Congressman Rand Paul of Kentucky, but he doesn't think he'll be in the running because he doesn't dance around questions and talks too straight for the campaign trail.
Marietta resident Manuel Rubio, 68, said he'd like to see Romney tap Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, another frontrunner according to pundits, for the job.
"He's a true conservative, and he's going to bring to the ticket the Hispanic vote," said Manuel Rubio, no relation to the freshman senator.
Another possibility could be Rick Santorum, Romney's chief rival for the nomination before he bowed out in April. He hasn't completely ruled it out, and Glen Newman, founder of the Marietta OH 9-12 Project and supporter of the former Pennsylvania senator, would like to see it.
"I think that would be a fabulous idea," he said.
Newman said Romney's selection of a running mate could make a difference to undecided voters moreso than "the folks who are committed to anyone but Obama," a group of which he is a member.
Parkersburg resident Michael Williams, 22, said he supported Newt Gingrich, who is expected to officially bow out of the race today, for the GOP nomination. Before he decides whether to vote for Romney, he wants to do some research, and the running mate choice could be part of the decision-making process.
"It could help us, and it could hurt his chances," Williams said.
It's not going to be a factor at all for Newport resident Steve Eddy, 42.
"Because honestly, the whole presidential thing, they're just going to lie and tell you what they think you want to hear," he said. "When they get elected, they'll do what they want."
Eddy said he feels that way regardless of party affiliation, but also stressed that if people don't vote, they can't complain.
There is debate about how much difference the choice of a vice presidential candidate can make in an election, but Washington County Republican Party Chairwoman Leslie Haas said she noticed an impact four years ago.
"When (John McCain) named Sarah Palin, the doors opened wide," she said. "I did see a big upsurge in support of him."
Carl-Michal Krawczyk, professor of history at Washington State Community College, said it's been important in the past.
"I don't think (John F.) Kennedy would have been elected without that geographic determinant of choosing (Lyndon) Johnson, who was from Texas," said Krawczyk, noting that ticket carried Texas in one of the closest elections in U.S. history.
Generally, candidates will look to "balance the ticket" with their running mate from ideological, geographical and even ethnic perspectives, Krawczyk said.
"Prior to the Civil War, a northern candidate would almost always choose a southern running mate," he said.
Other examples Krawczyk mentioned include George H.W. Bush selecting the younger Dan Quayle to appeal to a younger generation and Palin and Geraldine Ferraro to provide a gender balance.
Some think Romney will be looking for a running mate that's more to his right politically, since some conservatives and tea party voters are still lukewarm on his candidacy.
But Krawczyk noted the conventional wisdom doesn't always play out, like in 1992, when Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton picked Tennessee Sen. Al Gore as his No. 2.
"Given that this is America, we are always in for surprises," he said.