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An independent effort was launched to draft U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) as John McCain’s running mate. “Rather than wait for the McCain team to announce a Vice President candidate, we have decided to provide people with an opportunity to join a campaign for a pro-life, pro-family, pro-market, pro-military, dynamic, young, Republican-Conservative Eric Cantor,” says the Web site,, launched this week and featuring an online petition drive. Cantor, the deputy minority whip in the U.S. House of Representatives, is also the sole Jewish Republican in that body. The Web site is independent of Cantor, who in a recent interview with JTA dismissed as “ridiculous” rumors of his being named to the ticket with McCain, the Arizona senator and putative presidential nominee. Cantor, 45, is a leading fund-raiser for McCain and is a co-chairman of his Jewish outreach. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Beau Phillips, an organizer behind the petition drive, cited his reasons to put Cantor on the ticket.

“He’s young, has a fiscally conservative record, can help McCain in Virginia and perhaps in Florida, where Cantor — the only Jewish Republican in the House — has appeal and a fund-raising base,” said Phillips, a lawyer in Richmond, Va.

Phillips sees Virginia as a must-win state for McCain to defeat the presumptive Democratic nominee, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

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