Why Trump must pick a conservative VP

We’re exactly a week out from the Republican convention in Cleveland, which means that Donald Trump’s vice-presidential pick could come any day now. And here is the VP reality for Trump: He has to pick a Republican with crimson-red conservative credentials, especially on social issues. Why? Not only are rebellious GOP delegates trying to thwart his nomination at the convention (no matter how unlikely that effort seems); they’re also conspiring to possibly pick Trump’s VP for him, as NBC’s Leigh Ann Caldwell writes. Remember, GOP delegates aren’t bound to vote for Trump’s running mate. For those very reasons, this weekend’s floated VP possibility for Trump — Lt. Gen. (ret) Michael Flynn — is most likely a non-starter, given that he’s a registered Democrat and that he supports abortion rights. “These are difficult issues, but I think women have to be able to choose,” Flynn told ABC yesterday. So Trump faces this choice: Pick a conservative, or face a greater chance of a revolt in Cleveland. Someone like Trump, who also once supported abortion rights and who once donated money to Democrats, was always going to have less ideological flexibility in choosing his running mate than, say, Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio. But now it’s even less flexibility with a concerted effort to dump Trump at the convention.

So given that reality, who are the current frontrunners for Trump’s VP pick? According to NBC’s reporting, there are three names in the top tier (in alphabetical order) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence. Well, Trump today stumps with Christie in Virginia. And tomorrow, he campaigns in Indiana, where we expect Pence to join him. Meanwhile, the Washington Times reports that Pence increasingly looks like the possible choice. “Scrambling among Indiana politicians has reached the point where Republican Party insiders are convinced that presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump will pick Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate. Constitutional lawyer James Bopp, an Indiana delegate to the Republican National Convention who is close the governor, told The Washington Times that Indiana House Speaker Brian C. Bosma, 58, a conservative Republican, had sought advice from him on running for governor.” (A reminder: Pence can’t both run for re-election this year, as well as run for VP.) But some caution here: It’s one thing for this news to be the hubbub in Indiana, yet that might not reflect what’s in Trump’s head.