Why wouldn’t he be? Donald Trump doesn’t have a good answer to that question, and the people posing it don’t really have a reason to ask anyway. Trump confirmed yesterday that Mike Pence will remain on the ticket for a second term, ending speculation that ran into the dozens of people:
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) August 19, 2019
“I’m very happy with Mike Pence,” Trump, who is expected to easily win the Republican nomination for a second term, told reporters before boarding Air Force One in New Jersey.
The fact that this question even got asked speaks to the fantasy-league approach to politics that have permeated the media in the last generation. There is nothing at all driving this question except for the upcoming election — no reports of serious conflict between Trump and Pence, no reports of health issues, or anything else that might require a change in the #2 slot. It’s sheer baseless speculation, an attempt to drum up a story where none exists.
This isn’t a Trump-era phenomenon. The last ticket change for a presidential re-election took place seventy-five years ago, but that never stops reporters from speculating on it every incumbent-re-election cycle. Questions were asked about Joe Biden in 2011-12, and there was an entire cottage industry based around the idea that George W. Bush was on the cusp of replacing Dick Cheney with Condoleezza Rice in 2004. His father was supposedly spending his entire four years in office planning to dump Dan Quayle.
It never happens, because changing VPs means admitting a serious mistake in the first place. The last man who did it was Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and it was in part because Henry Wallace had turned out to be a big Soviet sympathizer. That was a big enough mistake and a big enough risk to make changing horses worth the political hit, plus FDR was so popular the political risk was minimal anyway. In 1944 FDR chose Harry Truman over his sitting VP for the ticket, which turned out to be fortuitous for the nation when FDR passed away a few months after his fourth inauguration.
In this case, replacing Pence makes no sense at all. He’s got considerable political clout with evangelicals, which Trump mentions here, plus he’s widely considered to be doing a good job in his role. Pence has remained loyal to Trump, a quality which Trump prizes above most if not all others. None of the political troubles Trump has relates to Pence at all, so replacing him would solve nothing while creating all sorts of other headaches.
Fear not, fantasy-league fans, but be patient. We’ll get plenty of opportunity to choose our rosters in the Democratic Ticket Sweepstakes.