There’s a new game being played amongst politicos: who wants to be Donald Trump’s running mate? According to The New York Times, it’s not that many.
“Never,” said Chris Schrimpf, a spokesman for Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, who is still running against Mr. Trump. “No chance.”
“Hahahahahahahahaha,” wrote Sally Bradshaw, a senior adviser to Jeb Bush, when asked if he would consider it.
“Scott Walker has a visceral negative reaction to Trump’s character,” said Ed Goeas, a longtime adviser to the Wisconsin governor.
Or, as Senator Lindsey Graham put it, “That’s like buying a ticket on the Titanic.”
A remarkable range of leading Republicans, including Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina and Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, have been emphatic publicly or with their advisers and allies that they do not want to be considered as Mr. Trump’s running mate. The recoiling amounts to a rare rebuke for a front-runner: Politicians usually signal that they are not interested politely through back channels, or submit to the selection process, if only to burnish their national profiles.
This doesn’t mean Republicans won’t change their minds if Trump ends up getting enough delegates to be the nominee. Trump is promising to make inroads with the GOP as a whole, so he won’t have a Walter Mondale-like failure, and perhaps this is why Reince Priebus hasn’t told Trump to jump into New York Harbor. It could be he’s desperately hoping Trump will pick a running mate which will balance out the ticket and make those in the #NeverTrump camp go, “Fine…we’ll pick Trump,” if the right running mate is selected. There are certainly a few GOP politicians out there who won’t rule anything out (via NYT).
Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, as well as Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama and the retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, said in interviews that they would consider joining the ticket if Mr. Trump offered. Two governors, Chris Christie of New Jersey and Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, have also told allies that they were open to being Mr. Trump’s running mate…
[ Trump ] declined to discuss potential picks in any detail, but he briefly praised three governors as possible contenders — Mr. Kasich, Mr. Christie and Rick Scott of Florida — and said he would also consider candidates who were women, black or Hispanic. (A spokeswoman for Mr. Scott said he was focused on being governor.)
This goes against what Bloomberg reports claiming Trump hasn’t really started vetting running mates at all.
Several aides said they haven’t decided who will lead the vice presidential vetting, but the aim most likely will be to pair Trump with a seasoned politician who would balance the billionaire businessman’s lack of experience in elected office.
One Trump comment to NYT is his belief voters don’t pick a candidate in the general election because of whoever is vice president. This might seem true, but I’ve had friends say they didn’t vote for John McCain in 2008 because of Sarah Palin (remember the old, “one heartbeat away” line). George W. Bush’s pick of Dick Cheney solidified my support for him in 2000 (even though I’d voted for Bush before as Texas governor), plus the media was all “Bush needs a VP with ‘gravitas’.” Mitt Romney’s pick of Paul Ryan was supposed to help bring Tea Party voters in because of Ryan’s reputation as a fiscal hawk (2009 bailout vote notwithstanding). Ronald Reagan’s pick of George H.W. Bush was an appeal towards more moderate Republicans. While vice presidential picks probably weren’t that big of a deal when the nation first started (second place in the presidential vote originally got the VP slot), they became something probably in at least the 1960’s when JFK picked LBJ. Since then, it’s been Veepstakes with the media picking over every potential choice as to whether it balances out a ticket or reinforces it.
This certainly doesn’t mean the politicians who are saying, “No” to Trump won’t eventually say, “Yes.” John Kasich is certainly one I wouldn’t be surprised to see on a Trump ticket, but I also wouldn’t be shocked at Trump/Cruz (even though it’s doubtful that would happen). It really just depends on how strong #NeverTrump is, and whether the party can stay “unified” when Trump is such a polarizing character. It’s also possible the GOP is waiting to see who Trump picks so they can decide whether an independent bid is worth mounting or not. If Trump picks someone like Rick Scott or Chris Christie or Jeff Sessions, would Mitt Romney really try an independent bid? Would Jeb Bush or Tom Coburn? It’s all a mystery in a bit of a riddle, so no one really knows what’s going to happen. That’s the fun of Veepstakes, and just shows 2016 really is the Reality Election. It just needs better contestants.