With billionaire businessman Donald Trump appearing to have locked up the Republican presidential nomination, there’s a new parlor game: Pick the running mate. Will he choose a woman to balance his misogynistic remarks? A Hispanic to negate his anti-immigrant statements? An African-American to offset his white supremacist appeal?
Or will he choose former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia, who pretty much mirrors Trump himself and is supersavvy to the ways of Congress?
Gingrich already has indicated he is amenable to a discussion about running in the No. 2 slot, and Trump has suggested he will choose a politician to help him navigate the choppy waters surrounding Congress.
Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi, who initially supported Ohio Gov. John Kasich in the nomination race, told the Wall Street Journal it’s a real quandary.
“Our nominee is going to be Trump,” Lott said. “Now we’re thinking: ‘Oh my Lord, what do we need as a running mate in that case?’”
Trump has high negative ratings among women, immigrants and minorities. His high-profile tweets calling women dogs and fat pigs, as well as his debate row with Fox News journalist Megyn Kelly, his proposal to build a wall along the border with Mexico to keep out “rapists” and “drug dealers,” and his suggested ban on Muslims have not endeared him to wide swathes of the electorate.
Despite all that, Trump managed to best the other 16 declared GOP presidential candidates this cycle, with the Associated Press estimating this week he crossed the 1,237-delegate threshold to secure the party’s nod with two delegates to spare and 334 still available in future nominating contests.
The Washington Post put together a list of potential vice presidential nominees: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a former presidential contender who endorsed Trump after Christie folded his campaign; Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, who has praised Trump’s approach to foreign policy; Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, a military veteran who is popular among the party faithful; Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, a staunch conservative who also spent time in Congress; and Gingrich, who sought the Republican nomination in 2012 and could keep reluctant big-bucks contributor Sheldon Adelson at Trump’s side.
The Wall Street Journal said other possibilities have included former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the first GOP senator to endorse Trump but who has said, “It won’t be me”; and Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, a member of the party leadership in the Senate.
One name that likely won’t appear on the short list is the 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who has railed against Trump’s candidacy, earning the real estate mogul’s ire. Trump has called Romney a “choker” and a “lightweight.”
Romney has said Trump has taken U.S. politics down “a dark alley” and he “should not be president of the United States.”
Why did he take on Trump? “I wanted my grandkids to see that I simply couldn’t ignore what Mr. Trump was saying and doing, which revealed a character and temperament unfit for the leader of the free world,” Romney told the Journal in an interview published Saturday.
Despite the former reality-TV star’s shortcomings, the GOP slowly is uniting behind him to keep Democrat Hillary Clinton out of the White House, although House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and former Trump competitor Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas are still among those holding out.
Many in the #NeverTrump crowd have switched their focus to “Never Hillary.”
Former Trump rival Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who called Trump a con artist during the campaign, justified his support, tweeting Friday he can’t live with a Clinton presidency.
Minnesota billionaire Stanley Hubbard told the AP he’s willing to do whatever it takes to stop Clinton, even though he helped fund the anti-Trump campaign.
For her part, Clinton, who still is 73 delegates shy of the 2,383 she needs to secure the Democratic nomination, told CNN she’s ready for what she called Trump’s “fantasy campaign.”
“I know Donald Trump says outrageous things all the time, but today he officially clinched the Republican nomination, so this is as real as it gets,” she said Thursday. “This man, who is an unqualified loose cannon, is within reach of the most important job in the world, so it should concern every American.”