Donald Trump is unpredictable. The Manhattan real estate mogul, turned reality TV star, turned GOP (‘Grand Old Party’) presidential candidate, doesn’t do things by the book. Now that Trump is the presumptive presidential nominee of the Republican Party, who are his likely picks for his vice presidential running mate? Will he choose a safe option or go for a wildcard to shake up the election process? The possibilities are endless but here are my top picks.
Kasich positioned his 2016 Republican Party presidential nomination campaign on a moderate platform. The current Governor of Ohio made a point of not getting involved in the ‘mud slinging’ and insults going back and forth between Trump and his GOP rivals. Kasich’s favourite slogan that even made its way onto his campaign t-shirts was “I don’t want to take the low road to the highest office in the land“.
Acting as a moderate could allow Kasich to position himself on a Trump/Kasich ticket as a counter-balance to bluster of Trump. Donald Trump has also gone on record as saying “I like John“. It may also be telling that Trump did not enter into verbal fisticuffs with Kasich near the end of the nomination process in same way he did with Cruz and Rubio .
Another positive for Kasich is his vast experience in Washington, having served as a member of the US House of Representatives representing Ohio from 1983 to 2001. Kasich also boasts about being the last person to ‘balance the budget’ as Chairman of the House Budget Committee.
The fact that Kasich only won one state (Ohio) during the GOP nomination process may show that he is not in tune with Republican voters in 2016. During the campaign he also distanced himself from Donald Trump’s rhetoric on immigration and women. The reality is that Kasich he may not accept the position on the Trump ticket even if asked.
Florida Governor Rick Scott is, like Trump, a former millionaire businessman turned politician. He ticks all the boxes having served in the US Navy, worked as a partner as a top Texas law firm and later becoming a venture capitalist funding health care, manufacturing and technology companies.
As the fairly popular Governor of a swing state that is important for Trump to win, he has the potential to help the ticket win crucial electoral college votes. Scott has also officially endorsed Donald Trump for President and has made a call for all Republican to rally behind the presumptive nominee.
However, having two strong-willed former businessmen on the ticket may not appeal to voters. The fact that Scott is a white male in his 60s could seem to be a more old fashioned choice than if Trump went for Scott’s fellow Floridian, Marco Rubio. Although Scott has executive experience serving as the Governor of Florida since 2011, his lack of understanding of federal policies and the ‘Washington machine’ may make Trump’s VP committee wary.
As a former speaker of the House of Representatives and candidate for the 2012 Republican Party presidential nomination, Gingrich would meet Trump’s desire of having a VP with experience in public office and familiarity with the inner working of Washington DC.
Gingrich has also been a vocal supporter of Trump in the US media and is a consultant to the Trump campaign. Considering who will be competing against the Trump ticket in November’s general election, Gingrich’s role as a key Republican player in Washington during Bill Clinton Presidency will be noted by Trump’s VP committee. They may also see Gingrich’s ability to stand up to Bill Clinton in the 90s as an asset and something he can repurpose to stand up to Hilary Clinton during the 2016 Presidential race.
On the downside, at 72 years old, Gingrich is actually older than Trump and is unlikely to appeal to minorities or younger voters. His age may also worry voters who will be choosing between two candidates, Trump and Clinton, who are nearly 70. Given Trump’s home State is New York it can be useful to balance the ticket with someone from a Southern State. Trump, however, has already performed well in the southern states during the nomination process, including in Gingrich’s home state of Georgia. Is it therefore unlikely that Gingrich will be able to help Donald Trump carry a swing state in the way Scott or Kasich may.
Despite being on the end of some Donald Trump insults, Carson and Trump clearly have developed a close friendship and mutual respect for each other. The former neurosurgeon was one of the first 2016 GOP candidates to come out and publicly support Trump and has high favourability figures amongst likely voters.
As a non-politician Carson would also bolster Trump’s anti-establishment focus and may conceivably help Trump’s bid to win African-American votes against Hilary Clinton.
As the chair of Trump’s committee to search for and vet VP options, is unlikely to be in the running himself. Carson has also ruled himself out on a number of occasions. However, stranger things have happened – in 2000, Dick Cheney, the chair of George W Bush’s VP vetting committee ended up becoming Bush’s running mate.
Rubio is the darling of the young moderate conservative wing of the GOP. He ran his 2016 Republican Party presidential nomination campaign on the slogan of ‘A New American Century’.
Still only 44, the junior US Senator from Florida still has his best years in politics ahead of him. As the child of Cuban immigrants and hailing from a swing State he has all the attributes of a perfect VP pick.
Rubio has unequivocally ruled himself out of accepting a position on Trumps’ ticket. He may be looking towards a potential run in 2020. A Trump/Rubio ticket would also have to endure a barrage of Clinton campaign ads showing Trump calling Rubio ‘Little Marco’ and Rubio in turn accusing Trump of having ‘small hands’, being ‘orange’ and looking ‘sweaty’. (They really are a nice bunch in the GOP…) It remains to be seen if this personal animosity would stand in the way Rubio accepting an offer from Donald Trump.
Chris Christie was one of the first senior members of the GOP establishment to endorse Trump in March. Trump has made a point of saying he rewards loyalty. Since March, the New Jersey Governor has appeared on stage beside Trump at many rallies and victory speeches. Christie’s straight-talking style of ‘telling’ it like it is’ would double the volume of Trump’s message to disenfranchised voters. New Jersey also a State that traditionally votes Democrat, which, on paper, would make Christie a more attractive pick.
While as these points are important, the fact is that Christie is one of the most unpopular Governors in the US today with very low approval ratings. Christie has also been investigated in relation to someone from his office (but not Christie himself) alleged ordering the closing of two lanes of traffic in Fort Lee which were normally open to access the George Washington Bridge and New York City.
Trump’s team my feel that Christie’s legal experience as the US District Attorney for New Jersey would be better suited to a legal position in a Donald Trump cabinet, such as Attorney General.
As a US Senator from Texas, with a Cuban father, who is still in his 40s, Cruz would demographically balance the ticket. He has is a fierce conservative who would bolster Trump’s appeal to the American heartland. Cruz was the runner up in the Republican party nomination process illustrating the support he has amongst the grass roots voters.
In the early stages of the GOP nomination process, Cruz and Trump appeared to have a cordial relationship. This may have been due to Cruz’z view that Trump’s campaign would burn out and Cruz did not want to alienate Trump’s supporters. The relationship between the two men appeared to sour as the race moved into its final stages and it became clear to Cruz that the Trump phenomenon was not going away.
Trump’s moniker for Cruz as ‘Lyin’ Ted’, his accusations that Cruz is Canadian and therefore ineligible to run for President, and his use of the National Enquirer claim that Cruz’s father was somehow involved with Lee Harvey Oswald in the JFK assassination would definitely be used in Clinton campaign attack ads. Cruz also has a reputation in the Senate as someone who is difficult to work with. The lack of endorsements from his fellow Republicans in the Senate may persuade Donald Trump’s VP committee to stay clear.
Wildcard: Could Donald Trump actually pick….Sarah Palin?
Could it be second time lucky for the “ballyhooed”* former Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin? Would she be interested in running again? Or is she happy writing books and appearing on Fox News and reality TV shows about snowmobiles and moose “perched upon a pedestal all spun up for ratings’ sake“? It is easy to imagine a “straight shooter” like Palin touring the country as the VEEP in waiting talking about “Me and Donald Trump are a couple of mavericks“.
But the reality is that Trump’s team may feel that one maverick on the ticket is enough. And Palin’s lack of foreign policy knowledge and tendency to go off topic may be too close to home for Trump’s comfort.
(*Note: These are all actually words and phrases that Palin has used on the campaign trail with Trump).
Main photo credit: Pixabay
Other Photo credits: John Kasich, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio Chris Christie all by Michael Vadon (via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0) Newt Gingrich, Ben Carson, Rick Scott and Sarah Palin all by Gage Skidmore (via Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0)