From Impossible To Inevitable: Trump Must Choose His Veep
The media often act like we have a sacred duty to exaggerate. We believe that if something is worth doing, it is worth overdoing.
Thus, in just a few short months, we have gone from saying it is impossible for Donald Trump to win the Republican nomination to saying it is inevitable that Donald Trump will win the Republican nomination.
Because of this, I have decided to dispense with the remaining primaries and caucuses, stories about superdelegates, brokered conventions and the usual yada yada and get right down to it:
Who will Trump choose as his running mate?
Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, who has one of the longest titles in politics — professor of the practice of public policy communication, Sol Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California — put her finger right on it.
“The Donald’s first choice is The Donald,” she said.
But there are constitutional problems with this, and besides, vice presidents are convenient to have around in case you need someone to attend a funeral.
So I contacted 22 people, which is 22 more people than I usually contact for a column, to ask them their predictions for Trump’s running mate.
Some did not want to play.
“Anyone who would run with Trump is too vile for me to think about,” said Garry Wills, a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and the author of more than 40 books.
Others were downright apocalyptic.
“My first job was with Jesse Helms,” said Juleanna Glover, presenting her conservative credentials. “I lived with Phyllis Schlafly. I worked for Dan Quayle, George W. Bush, Bill Kristol, Steve Forbes, Rudy Giuliani, Dick Cheney and spent half my career with John Ashcroft.”
And her views on Trump?
“He is inherently dangerous to the national interest,” she said. “Trump as the nominee is destructive, and anyone who would seriously consider being his vice president is an accomplice to that destruction.”
Tom Rath, on the other hand, was willing to provide a list. Rath is one of the most respected political operatives in the Republican Party and has served as a senior national adviser to the presidential campaigns of Howard Baker, Robert Dole, Lamar Alexander, George W. Bush, Mitt Romney and John Kasich.
“Far be it from me to give Trump advice,” he said and then listed 13 suggestions “in no particular order.” I have included some with descriptions in case not every name rings a bell:
–Jeff Immelt: chairman of the board and CEO of General Electric
–John Thune: Republican senator from South Dakota
–Jeb Bush: Oh, c’mon, you didn’t forget that fast.
–Joe Scarborough with or without Mika Brzezinski: two politically influential MSNBC superstars who could take turns every other month
–Charlie Baker: Republican governor of Massachusetts
–Roger Goodell: commissioner of the National Football League
–Tim Scott: Republican senator from South Carolina and the first African-American in U.S. history to be elected both to the House and Senate
–Oprah Winfrey: Born into poverty in Mississippi, she became a talk-show host, actress, producer, author and multibillionaire philanthropist. She gave me an interview when she came to Chicago to start a TV talk show in 1984. At the time, I was probably better known in Chicago than she was. That lasted about five minutes.
In June 2015, Trump himself told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that he wanted Oprah as his running mate. “I think we’d win easily, actually,” he said. “I like Oprah. I mean, is that supposed to be a bad thing? I don’t think so.”
But could Oprah, a big backer of Barack Obama, be selected by the Republican National Convention? “Over the years, I have voted for as many Republicans as I have Democrats,” Oprah told a crowd in December 2007 when she announced her endorsement of Obama. “This isn’t about partisanship for me. This is very, very personal.”
When Obama spoke to the crowd, he asked: “You want Oprah as vice president?”
The crowd roared. “That would be a demotion, you understand that?” Obama said.
While it might be close, I am guessing the delegates to the Republican convention would go along with Oprah as vice president, if only in the hope that she would give each of them a Pontiac.
Bill McInturff, a Republican pollster, said: “I assume Trump would double-down on his positioning, not pick anyone with a career in elected politics, so, someone with significant military experience seems like one possibility.”
Democratic crisis communications expert Chris Lehane said: “He shouldn’t/wouldn’t look for balance as that would undermine the brand.
“First, military background. If Curtis Lemay were available, he would be perfect. (Inconveniently, Lemay died in 1990.)
“Second, the anti-pol. Gov. Paul LePage of Maine is a poor man’s Trump.
“Third, sports figure. Peyton Manning (quarterback of the Denver Broncos) may be retiring.”
While most analysts are careful to hedge their bets just in case they turn out to be wrong, Charlie Cook is not most analysts. “I don’t believe that Trump will ultimately be the Republican nominee,” he told me.
“Trump’s chances of winning a general election are so small that even if he did, the odds of his administration being a disaster are huge. So for a young and ambitious Republican, hitching your wagon to his horse could well be a career-ender.”
Cook said, “A lot of top-tier names and talent are off the table.”
“I question why any major figure or rising star in the party would want to become joined at the hip with Donald Trump,” said Cook. “That means he is likely to get a second- or third-tier person.”
Which makes my prediction perfect: She has run for the job before. She knows how to debate and give a good convention speech. And she has even invented her own language.
When she endorsed Trump on Jan. 20 at Iowa State University, she said: “Trump’s candidacy. It has exposed not just that tragic the ramifications of that betrayal of the transformation of our country, but too, he has exposed the complicity on both sides of the aisle that has enabled it, OK?”
OK. And that’s right. My guess is that Trump will select Sarah Palin as his running mate.
Why? Because she makes Trump sound like a genius.
Roger Simon is Politico’s chief political columnist. His new e-book, “Reckoning: Campaign 2012 and the Fight for the Soul of America,” can be found on Amazon.com, BN.com and iTunes. To find out more about Roger Simon and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Web page at www.creators.com.
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Photo: Donald Trump (R) thanks the crowd after receiving Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s endorsement at a rally at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa January 19, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Kauzlarich