Speculation about the prospects of Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty becoming John McCain's GOP running mate has gone from simmer to full boil this week.

But he's not the only governor named Tim from Minnesota who's being talked about as a vice presidential candidate.

Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine appears to have emerged near the top of Democrat Barack Obama's short list of potential running mates. Although Kaine grew up in suburban Kansas City, he was born in St. Paul and lived there until he was 2 years old. "I'm just not going to talk about my conversations with the campaign," he said Tuesday as he declined to confirm media reports that he has provided financial documents to Obama for review.

For all the buzz about a possible imminent announcement -- in both parties -- neither McCain nor Obama nor their campaign staffers have breathed a word about the choice.

The GOP guessing game picked up steam Monday when one of National Review magazine's political blogs stated that "Pawlenty is John McCain's choice and that the announcement is coming very soon." The assertion was attributed to "a source."

The backtracking began promptly, and in less than 24 hours, was amended to "McCain's list is down to Pawlenty or Mitt Romney." Asked about the report, a McCain spokesman had no comment.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney still boasts economic prowess, strong Republican establishment connections and proven fundraising ability, but apparently lacks a crucial element for a gut-driven candidate like McCain -- a personal relationship. Pawlenty is a political newbie but has the relationship in spades.

Once again Tuesday, he adamantly refused to talk about his future job prospects. "I stopped talking about the vice-presidential issue ... for all the reasons we talked about last week and earlier today, but I really appreciate you asking," he said during a news conference.

Pawlenty is headed to Chicago today to address a group of conservative state legislators and activists. On Saturday, he is scheduled to be in Iowa at a campaign office open house held by the state Republican Party.

Romney, meanwhile, has been vacationing with his family in Ontario and New Hampshire and is making plans to attend the Olympics in Beijing.

But it's also possible that long-shots could be chosen: Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska for Obama, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for McCain, or New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent, for either.

It's appearing less likely that Obama will choose former rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

This much is certain: Obama and McCain have been regularly huddling behind closed doors with a small circle of advisers to examine the backgrounds and records -- and weigh the political implications -- of at least a handful of prospects.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. plopez@startribune.com • 651-222-1288; vonste@startribune.com • 612-673-7184