This is the guy Trump fans want as VP, right? Christie has worked hard to position himself as Trump’s most visible toady but nobody seems to like him. Even in today’s Drudge poll, he’s a distant fifth out of six available choices as I write this. Mike Pence, who endorsed Ted Cruz in Indiana, is a bit ahead of him despite Christie being the first and still most prominent Republican pol to enthusiastically endorse Trump. As for the rest, Bob Corker’s a zero, Jeff Sessions is ideologically simpatico with Trump but brings little to the ticket beyond that, and Joni Ernst’s name seems to be getting thrown around not because she’s any sort of natural match for Trump but because she’s from Iowa and everyone likes her. By process of elimination, it’s Newt.
Tomorrow’s rally in Cincinnati is being billed as a tryout but I wonder if it isn’t a final interview before the job is formally offered.
Newt Gingrich, who is among the finalists to become Donald Trump’s running mate, will join the presumptive nominee at his rally Wednesday afternoon in Cincinnati, Ohio, according to two sources.
One person involved with the planning of Wednesday’s event — and who is close to the vice presidential vetting process — characterized the joint appearance as a “trial balloon” to gauge media coverage of the pair as a potential GOP ticket.
Jazz argued this morning that Newt’s a poor pick for Trump because he brings too much baggage to the ticket and lacks “outsider” cred. Fair points both, but no voter who’s comfortable enough with Trump’s mountain of baggage to support him is going to ditch him because Newt’s Samsonite has been added to the pile. Wanting an “outsider” makes more sense — that would explain why a newbie senator like Ernst is in the mix — but Newt is really no phonier an outsider than Trump himself is. They’ve got the same shtick: It’s only because they’ve been working the system from the inside for so many years, replete with Trump donations to Hillary Clinton and an invitation for the Clintons to his wedding, that they know how rotten it is and how best to reform it. Newt will forever be able to claim a certain “outsider” cachet from leading the Republican takeover of the House in 1994 too. “Real America took back power from corrupt Democrats 20 years ago,” he’ll say, “and we can do it again now.” And he’s been working overtime for months to hype his “outsider” credentials by taking ridiculous potshots at “the elites,” as if he himself isn’t a consummate member of that class. Newt’s main job as VP nominee will be doing exactly what he spends most of his time doing now, showing up on cable news to defend Trump on the controversy du jour and articulate the principles of Trumpism better than the candidate himself can. Sure, he’s about as popular as Zika is, but so is Trump. There’s no one out there, Ernst included, who’s going to solve that problem through their mere association with the nominee, so he might as well pick a number two who people dislike. (New hope for Christie!)
Here’s an interesting dark-horse choice via the New York Post:
The outspoken and brash Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn — who was forced out of his post by the Obama administration in 2014 after pointing out the rising global jihadist threat — has already briefed the Republican presidential candidate on several occasions and is in close touch with high levels of Trump’s staff…
“One of the things I expect Mr. Trump would look for in a vice president is discretion,” Flynn told The Post, coyly declining to comment on being vetted by Trump.
“All I would say is that I have been honored to serve my country for the past three decades and look forward to serving in other ways now that I am retired from the US Army,” he said. “I’ve been a soldier too long to refuse to entertain any request from a potential commander in chief.”
Flynn would add some gravitas to Trump’s image and would bolster the strongman appeal he’s going for, but he lacks the qualification Trump has noted in the past about knowing how to get legislation passed. That’s another key advantage for Gingrich: Although he poses as an outsider, he’d probably be roundly acceptable to the GOP establishment because he knows what he’s doing on the Hill. Republicans would welcome having him there to steer Trump in the “right” direction, a bit like Dick Cheney influencing the neophyte Dubya. Trump doesn’t need to tap Flynn as VP to benefit from a public association with him. Touting him as a would-be Defense secretary or NSA probably would achieve the same political task.
Exit question: Jim Geraghty wondered today whether there’s any reason to think the race will change significantly before November. Is there? Trump hasn’t gotten a counterterror bounce from Orlando so the idea that a terror attack will improve his numbers is questionable. I think he’ll put on a good show at the convention and get a bounce from that, although convention bounces are rarely durable. The debates are a wild card, but the fact that there’s three of them gives either candidate time to recover if they have a bad one. (See, e.g., Obama’s first debate in 2012.) The surest way the race changes, I think, is if Trump buckles down on his economic message and sticks with that in a disciplined way, especially at the convention when he’ll have a big audience. The race wouldn’t need to change much for it to change significantly. He’s trailing by just a single point in the new Morning Consult poll out today, and Rich Lowry’s right about this:
If Trump only down 4-6 pts prior to spate of email stories why wouldn't we expect him to be tied/narrowly ahead by end of GOP convention?
— Rich Lowry (@RichLowry) July 5, 2016
Strange as it may seem to those of us who follow political news every day and are retching from all the Clinton and Trump we’ve ingested, lots of voters will be getting their first impressions of the candidates at the convention. No sense writing the “can this change?” post until August 1st at the earliest.