Trump’s VP Pick Should be an Enthusiastic Supporter
According to the squawkers, Donald Trump has narrowed his possible vice-presidential picks down to around five likely choices: Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, Joni Ernst, Sen. Bob Corker, NJ Gov. Chris Christie, and Sen. Jeff Sessions. Some have thrown out names like S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley, apparently forgetting that she used her State of the Union rebuttal to take as many shots as Trump as she did President Obama.
Ultimately, Trump’s VP pick will probably not make a lot of difference one way or the other. This is headline-grabbing stuff in July, but it will be a blip on the radar. After a few days or weeks, all the attention will be placed squarely back on the man at the top of the ticket. Do certain running mates offer certain political advantages? Sure…but how significant are those advantages?
Functionally, it’s hard to say how much power Trump’s vice president would have in the billionaire’s administration. Many assume the man or woman Trump chooses will have a bigger voice than most VPs, simply because Trump will need an experienced guide through the Washington maze. On the other hand, Trump is the captain of his own ship, and that should be pretty obvious by now.
Since we don’t know exactly what Trump is looking for in a running mate, it’s not easy to predict his decision. It may be that he just wants someone he can get along with; Mitt Romney relied heavily on this factor when he chose Paul Ryan in 2012. It may be that he wants a choice that will blow people’s minds and keep the media drooling for a few weeks. If that’s the case, he could pick someone from out of left field. VP Ivanka Trump? VP Mark Cuban?
But regardless of who he chooses or why, Trump should avoid picking someone who does not buy into his unique political agenda. We’ve been through the “going rogue” scenario before, and it didn’t turn out well. Conservatives liked Sarah Palin much more than John McCain, but their divided ticket was easily conquered by a focused Obama/Biden campaign.
And that’s the real problem with the current short list. Corker and Ernst seem hesitant to jump on board at all. Gingrich and Christie have been enthusiastic supporters of Trump, but their true political beliefs – rhetorically and historically – are far afield from the Republican nominee’s. Sessions is probably the best fit ideologically, but can we really afford to take him out of the Senate?
There is no choice that will magically make anti-Trump Republicans jump on board. Choosing an establishment stalwart will only undermine Trump’s unique, powerful message.