Despite the focus on swing state nominees, a Republican swing-stater has not been selected as running mate in a long time (obviously, depends on what you call a swing stater, but it is clear that there have been none in the four or five decades. Who was the last one -- was it NY's Miller in 1964? How about Massachusetts' Lodge in 60? Nixon in 52? or do we have to go back to Ohio's Bricker in 44?).
The Republicans seem to do two things: One is choose an attack dog. The other is someone who bridges an internal division, whether it is new conservative/old line moderates (Ford/Dole, Reagan/Bush), Age/experience (Bush/Quayle, Bush/Cheney/McCain/Palin) or ideological (Dole/Kemp). The Democrats, on the other hand, choose sitting US Senators.
The second piece is in the Los Angeles Times and focuses on the importance of the VP position. It is questionable if the VP selection ever really makes a difference in the race. But the focus is only on the race, not on the best candidate for the job. This is unfortunate, as the VP choice is maybe the single most important decision of the presidential race.
Ever since Truman, the VP has become a critical player in the administration (the only two who played a real role before were Van Buren and McKinley's Garret Hobart). This is actually a positive -- better than some unnamed and unvetted adviser. And the VP is also the most likely successor for the party nomination -- 7 of the past 11 VPs have won their party nomination for the presidency. It should be noted that losing VPs are generally cast away. Only three have ever received the presidential nomination, and two of those (Dole, who became Majority Leader of the Senate, and Mondale,who actually served as VP) get a huge asterisk. The third, of course, was FDR.
Furthermore, once elected, all other decisions are revocable -- any position can be changed, anyone can be fired, spouses can be divorced and children can be disinherited. But the VP cannot be removed. This is a decision that has to be lived with. It's just too bad that it is not taken that seriously.