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Va. legislator of interest to McCain

RICHMOND, Va. — John McCain's campaign has asked Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor for personal documents as the Republican presidential candidate steps up his search for a running mate.

Cantor, 45, the chief deputy minority whip in the House, has been mentioned among several Republicans as a possible running mate for McCain. A Republican familiar with the conversations between Cantor and the McCain campaign said Cantor has been asked to turn over documents but did not know specifically what records were sought.

The individual spoke on the condition of anonymity because neither the McCain campaign nor Cantor's office wishes to discuss the running mate selection process.

Cantor, through a spokesman, declined to comment. McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said the campaign would have ”no comment on anything related to the vice presidential issue.“

Cantor has strong support among the party's conservatives, perhaps comforting a segment of the GOP base that has been reluctant to embrace McCain, who has often been at odds with members of his own party on several issues, including a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, federal funds for embryonic stem cell research and campaign finance reform.

Since his four terms in the Virginia House of Delegates starting in the early 1990s, Cantor has been part of the anti-tax wing of Virginia's Republican Party. His longtime advocacy for business and corporate interests in the General Assembly earned Cantor the derisive nickname ”Overdog“ from Democrats in Richmond.

Cantor is Jewish and is among Israel's most avid congressional supporters. His addition to the ticket could help the GOP win over Jewish votes this year. If McCain wins and Cantor is on the ticket, he would become the first Jewish vice president.

Cantor also would provide youth to the ticket as McCain turns 72 later this month.

Cantor could provide McCain with an important asset in Virginia, a state that last backed a Democrat for president in 1964 but which both parties are now targeting as a battleground.