With Donald Trump’s win in Indiana, many have started turning to a question that no one thought that they would be asking a few months ago: who will Trump want for his Vice President? Trump has suggested that his Vice President will have some governing experience, and may even be one of his former competitors. Trump has placed Ben Carson at the helm of his Vice Presidential vetting search, and there is already tension between the two of them, with Carson suggesting that Trump may select a Democrat as his Vice President and Trump swatting that suggestion away very quickly.
I have several thoughts on people who are likely (although as we have all seen, this campaign has been anything but predictive). I would venture a guess that he will pick someone from the list that follows:
Maine Governor Paul LePage: when LePage endorsed Trump, he said that “I was Donald Trump before Donald Trump became popular,” and there certainly is some truth to that. This compilation of quotes hardly does him justice, but it definitely lends some credence to the idea that he was Trump years ago. He has also said that, due to term limits, he would either like a job in the Trump administration or will run for Senate against Independent Senator Angus King in 2018. There are some advantages that LePage brings to the table, and they mostly pertain to his life story. LePage was one of eighteen children and he fled his abusive home and was homeless for two years as a teenager. Despite all of this, he went on to be a successful businessman and win a primary with seven candidates and a general election with four candidates to be elected governor in Maine, and subsequently reelected in 2014. Those elections certainly had their quirks, but that’s not a bad electoral record. He also doubles down on Trump’s demonstrated strengths in the Northeast.
Former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown: Brown now lives in New Hampshire, after failing to be elected to the Senate in a different state two years after he lost to Elizabeth Warren. Although his most recent campaign ended in a loss, Brown was one of the first to endorse Trump, doing so before the New Hampshire primary, which has suggested to me that he is in it for something. Brown’s background is also a contrast with Trump inheriting millions of dollars. He would also be doubling down on the Northeast.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie: I have previously written about what Christie was thinking in endorsing Trump, but I think that this is a possibility. This also doubles down on Trump’s Northeast appeal (although that might not be true, given Christie’s abysmal and historically low approval ratings in New Jersey). Christie has strong connections with a lot of Republican Governors due to his time running the Republican Governors’ Association two years ago, but Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker (one of Christie’s endorsers back when he was still in the race) has already said that he won’t be supporting Trump so that may be of limited utility.
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani: Giuliani has been one of Trump’s leading surrogates for a while now, but I’m not quite sure what he would add. One thing worth noting, is that the belief that a President and Vice President can’t be from the same state is not true, although in certain circumstances it may have an impact on whether a slate of candidates is able to prevail. Giuliani himself suggested that Trump select either Ohio Governor John Kasich or Condoleezza Rice, but that’s probably him trying to be modest.
Ohio Governor John Kasich: Kasich has already said that there is “zero” chance that he is anyone’s Vice President, but Trump already said that he was vetting Kasich before Kasich dropped out. It goes without saying that Ohio is a critical swing state, and Kasich has never seen a drop in his favorable ratings in his home state during his campaign for President. I consider this virtually an impossibility, since Kasich is already being talked up as a potential opponent for Senator Sherrod Brown in 2018.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich: Gingrich has been supporting Trump for what feels like forever at this point, and he would definitely add some geographic balance to the ticket. A National Review article imagined this ticket and concluded that “a Trump-Gingrich ticket would send a strong signal that ‘Make America Great Again’ is not just a campaign slogan but the theme for a new Republican Revolution — with Newt Gingrich as its chief strategist.” This may actually be more likely than a lot of people are thinking at the moment.
Former Texas Governor Rick Perry: yes, it is true that Perry called Trump a “cancer on conservatism,” which he is now trying to downplay. In addition to this complete 180, Perry has also said that he would consider being Trump’s Vice President. During his short-lived presidential campaign, Perry managed to revive his image, but I can’t imagine that Trump would put faith in his new image. However, if Trump wants a Texan on his ticket, the odds are much higher for Perry than for Ted Cruz (and I can’t exactly blame Cruz, given that Trump accused his father of helping in the JFK assassination earlier this week).
Florida Governor Rick Scott: despite reports that Trump is considering Marco Rubio, I find it hard to believe that Rubio would ever agree to being on a ticket with him (and the Carson-led vetting committee has ruled him out in any case). Since Florida is going to be a critically important state to win, it might help to have a Governor who (despite being fairly unpopular) has won statewide election twice. He is also a government outsider to an extent (despite being in his second term as governor).
Ben Carson: if anyone thinks that because Carson is helming the VP selection process, remember that Dick Cheney was doing the same thing in 2000, before he found himself. I don’t know how Carson has managed to become best friends with Trump, given how many times Trump mocked him as “pathological” and compared him to a child molester.
Sarah Palin: this would be quite an interesting choice, but Palin did endorse him in a totally bizarre speech. I also wouldn’t put it past Trump to do something so totally unthinkable (in the sense that we’ve all seen her as a VP candidate before).
Senator Jeff Sessions: Sessions is currently the only endorsement that Trump has in the Senate, and it was a huge deal when he announced his support for Trump over Cruz.
Former Senator Jim Webb: if we assume that Carson is correct in saying that Trump may select a Democrat, it’s probably the case that Webb is the only one who would accept (he is now a registered Independent). Webb might also help Trump out in the sense that, while Trump said that sleeping around was his “personal Vietnam” and mocked a war hero like John McCain, Webb has actually served honorably in Vietnam. Webb’s 2006 Senate win was also fueled by the voters who have been Trump’s base from the start.
And there you have it. Although I have no idea what goes on in Trump’s head, I wouldn’t be surprised if one of these 12 individuals is chosen to be Trump’s Number Two (and make no mistake, they certainly would be playing second fiddle, because he won’t want anyone who overshadows him). Am I right? We’ll know soon enough.