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Knoxville — A University of Tennessee professor calls Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush’s choice of a running mate a surprise.

Dr. Bill Lyons, a UT political scientist, said that Bush’s choice of former defense secretary Dick Cheney is out of the ordinary because Cheney was leading the Bush team that was seeking a GOP vice presidential candidate.

“I think it’s very unusual for the head of the search committee to end up being picked at this level,” Lyons said. “But these vice-presidential search procedures have evolved over the years.”

Bush announced his choice of Cheney in a news conference Tuesday after the choice was reported in the Washington Post Monday.

“It used to be very unusual to announce the choice before the convention,” Lyons said. “Now it’s conventional wisdom that you do make the choice before then, so I guess we should never be totally surprised.”

Lyons said vice presidential candidates rarely change the outcome of an election, though Bush said he chose Cheney because of the Wyoming Republican’s experience in foreign policy under former president George Bush.

“I think what’s happening now is we’re seeing this reaction because there’s a ‘news vacuum,'” Lyons said. “Once we get past this, and get into the campaign, I think that any implication that this choice has really helped or hurt will fall by the wayside.”