Some people are reading this passage from New York mag’s account of the axe dropping on Lewandowski as a hint that he has.
According to two sources briefed on the events, the meeting was a setup. Shortly after it began, the children peppered Lewandowski with questions, asking him to explain the campaign’s lack of infrastructure. “They went through the punch list. ‘Where are we with staffing? Where are we with getting the infrastructure built?'” one source explained. Their father grew visibly upset as he heard the list of failures. Finally, he turned to Lewandowski and said, “What’s your plan here?”
Lewandowski responded that he wanted to leak Trump’s vice-president pick.
And with that, Lewandowski was out. Trump has long viewed announcing his running mate at the GOP convention next month as a valuable card to play. He was shocked that Lewandowski didn’t have any other ideas.
“Leak” suggests that the decision’s already been made and it’s a matter of choosing when to reveal it. Breitbart’s source inside the campaign told the same story about this morning’s meeting — Lewandowski was confronted about the campaign’s myriad shortcomings, as if though those were uniquely his fault and not Paul Manafort’s (and certainly not Trump’s, who reportedly can’t be bothered to call the donors on the list the RNC made for him), and his solution was to “announce” the VP pick, in Breitbart’s term. That’s a little different from “leak.” It could mean that the choice hasn’t yet been made and that Lewandowski was urging Trump to hurry up and do it already — although obviously they’re at the short-short-shortlist point if he thought Trump was now close enough to a decision to make it official. In fairness to Trump, Lewandowski’s theory that naming a VP would be some sort of course correction after several horrible weeks rather than a 36-hour shiny object really was stupid. In fairness to Lewandowski, blaming him for the campaign’s troubles is like blaming the bartender for a patron’s alcoholism. His motto is “Let Trump be Trump.” The campaign let Trump be Trump by letting him rant about the judge in the Trump University case and now they’re five points behind. “Let Trump be Trump” assumes that the candidate’s judgment can be trusted. If that’s not true then nothing’s going to save him, no matter who’s nominally managing the campaign.
Politico had something about Trump’s VP search last week. It does sound like they’re down to a short-short-shortlist. Supposedly the frontrunners are Chris Christie and Newt Gingrich, with Jeff Sessions a distant third and Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin a dark horse. In a choice between Gingrich and Christie, it’s got to be Newt, no? Christie’s job approval in New Jersey is in the toilet. He lacks Washington experience, and Trump has said that he wants “somebody who can deal with Congress, who gets along with Congress, who is a Washington person.” He’s also too much like Trump himself, I think, to add anything meaningful to the ticket. They’re practically (if not technically) from the same state and Christie’s persona is combative like Trump’s but without the same roguish charm. Given Trump’s criticism of Judge Curiel, Christie would also be an odd pick insofar as he once famously attacked “crazies” on the right who criticized him for appointing a Muslim judge to the state bench. We mustn’t assume political predispositions by judges because of their backgrounds, he warned. Imagine the Democratic attack ads contrasting that with Trump on Curiel.
Newt’s the better pick because he’ll put establishmentarians at ease. He does, of course, have plenty of Washington experience despite his frequent surreal attacks on “elites” and insiders nowadays. He’d bring some regional diversity to the ticket. He’s been an attack dog against the Clintons since he was Speaker of the House, and he’d be uniquely well positioned to argue that the “Clinton prosperity” of the 1990s was really a Republican prosperity engineered when the new GOP House forced Clinton to compromise. Newt’s also a more outspoken critic of “political correctness” than Christie is; as recently as a week ago, he was talking about bringing back HUAC to sniff out homegrown Islamist turncoats. The main knocks against him are his age and his personal history, but if you’re willing to elect one thrice-married septuagenarian president, presumably you’re okay with having another as VP. Besides, Newt’s age actually helps insofar as voters are nervous that Trump might not know what he’s doing. Having a guy as his number two who’s been in politics for 40+ years will be reassuring. What am I missing here? What’s the argument for making Christie, who seems much better suited professionally and temperamentally to being an aggressive Attorney General, vice president instead of Gingrich?