Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has been winnowing his picks for Vice President in private, with most handicappers suggesting nominees who've held public office.
Prospects include Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, to Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., to Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., with one dark horse including former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.
But what if Romney, 65, decides to pick a woman from the high-tech sector who's been one of his biggest supporters?
One person who fits that bill is Margaret (Meg) Cushing Whitman, who's been the CEO of Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) since last September.
Whitman, 56, could bring some "outsider" credibility to an "all-business" Romney ticket and might attract some votes from women, technology workers, happy users of eBay Inc. (Nasdaq: EBAY) which she made into a huge success as CEO and people interested in education.
Here are some plusses and minuses for Whitman:
A native of Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., Whitman earned a bachelor's degree in economics at Princeton and then a Masters in Business Administration at Harvard Business School, just like Romney.
She landed at eBay in 1998 after stints at Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG) and Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS). After becoming a billionaire, Whitman and her spouse, Griffith R. Harsh IV, a surgeon, created a charitable foundation with some of their funds.
Whitman gave at least $100 million to Princeton which named a new residential college after her. She also donated to the Environmental Defense Fund and other organizations although she declined to join the "giving pledge" of Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK/CEO) CEO Warren E. Buffett to donate at least half of her fortune to charity.
A dedicated Republican, Whitman was a major contributor to Romney's losing presidential run in 2008 and later became national co-chair for nominee Sen. John McCain, R.-Ariz., who suggested her as a possible treasury secretary in one of the presidential debates.
Last year, Whitman gave Romney a $2,500 primary contribution and sent another $5,000 to a political action committee called Free and Strong America. She also gave $5,000 to HP's political action committee.
This year, Whitman's contributions include $900 in June to the California 2012 GOP Delegation, as well as contributions to Portman, former presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty and a California congressional candidate, Anthony Strickland.
In 2010, Whitman spent about $144 million of her own cash as Republican nominee for California governor but lost to Democrat Jerry Brown, winning only 42 percent of the vote.
At HP, Whitman has won credit for slashing costs and firing staff to make the No. 1 computer company more competitive. But shares have fallen 16 percent during her tenure, trading Monday at $18.74, up 48 cents.
Republicans have selected nominees who've not held elected office before, including Wall Street lawyer Wendell Willkie and war hero and Columbia University president Dwight D. Eisenhower as respective presidential nominees in 1940 and 1952. But Willkie selected Sen. Charles McNary of Ohio as his VP running mate and Eisenhower picked California Sen. Richard M. Nixon as his candidate.
So a Romney-Whitman pairing would have a very "business-like" image, combining two billionaires, male and female, onto a single ticket.
To be sure, both nominees lack long experience in elective office and foreign policy experience, which would surely make a Romney-Whitman ticket an easy target for the Democrats, who could continue their crusade against the rich.
As well, Vice President Joe Biden would likely have a field day blasting Whitman's firing of 30,000 HP workers, her acknowledged failure to vote for 28 years and her lack of experience in government.
Her interest in education apparently extends to the Ivy League, in contrast, say, to Jill Biden's lengthy career teaching in community colleges. On immigration, Whitman's own housekeeper and nanny was discovered to be an undocumented alien.
Further, before her HP tenure, Whitman was a director of Goldman Sachs & Co. (NYSE: GS), the powerhouse Wall Street firm that manages part of her money.
Whitman would be the third woman to be nominated for vice president by a major political party. The others were the late Rep. Geraldine Ferraro, D-N.Y., who ran in 1984, and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who ran with McCain in 2008.