July 12, 2016

Veepstakes Speculation

Trump has several options — Gingrich, Pence, Christie, Flynn. Who will it be?

Who is it going to be for VP? That’s the question on the minds of many since Donald Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee. There’s little but speculation at this point, but it’s worth taking a look at several potential picks and what they may or may not bring to the table to give Trump a stronger ticket for the presidency.

For the record, the office of vice president is viewed by many as one of the least important and undesirable offices in government. John Adams once complained to his wife Abigail, “My country has in its wisdom contrived for me the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived.”

However, the VP is an important position as he or she is responsible for assuming the presidency should something happen, not to mention serving as the president of the Senate — a critical position should the balance be 50-50. And in modern politics, particularly this election cycle, Trump’s selection of a running mate could very well make or break his candidacy.

Trump has said he will make his pick by the end of this week, and by all indications he is leaning toward choosing someone who is more “political” than “military.” Trump says, “I don’t need two anti-establishment people,” and he has indicated that he will likely pick someone who helps to unify the Republican Party.

The most floated names are Indiana Governor Mike Pence, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and retired Lieutenant General and former Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency Michael Flynn.

Pence is arguably the most conservative choice on the list, and in more ways than one. He identifies as being “a Christian, a conservative and a Republican — in that order.” Pence could signal to conservatives that they are not forgotten. Pence brings both congressional and executive experience, and he’s a calm and collected presence to counter Trump’s temperament. Pence is, however, not extremely popular in his home state, as he opposed a state funded pre-kindergarten program and signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was vehemently opposed by the Rainbow Mafia and many businesses in the Hoosier State.

Christie, a former presidential candidate himself, is well known, but is at best a moderate choice with perhaps more political baggage than other choices. Regardless, he has been vetted by Trump’s team and despite the bridge-closing scandal that has tarnished his tenure as governor, he remains on the short list. Christie was very much anti-Trump during the primary debates, but shortly after dropping out, became an avid supporter. In fact, the two have become friends — so much so that Christie is managing Trump’s presidential transition project. Christie is a lot like Trump in that he bluntly speaks his mind. However, Christie’s approval rating is a paltry 26% in the Garden State, and those numbers do not indicate that he would add anything special — like turning New Jersey red — to Trump’s candidacy.

Next on the list is Newt Gingrich, who, it goes without saying, is well known. His political knowledge and experience are perhaps unmatched by many of the other potential VPs. Gingrich is reportedly “actively lobbying” for the slot. Further, in a recent interview he stated, “If Trump offers the position and is serious about it, which I think he would be after our conversations, listen, I would feel compelled to serve the country.” On the down side, Gingrich may be viewed as being past his prime, and also perhaps too much like Trump in both temperament and marital history. Trump has said there is a place in his administration for Gingrich. But is VP the right slot?

The last most-talked-about potential VP is Michael Flynn. Flynn no doubt would bring military, national security and intelligence experience to the Trump ticket. Aside from that, however, he doesn’t bring much more. In fact, he could actually be a stumbling block for Trump, at least among conservatives who value life. Flynn’s recent answer to a question on abortion was, “I think women have to be able to choose. … They are the ones that have to make the decision because they’re the ones that are going to decide to bring up that child or not.” His answer would no doubt put him at odds with voters in the pro-life party.

Which of these choices — or perhaps a dark horse — will bolster Trump’s chances of winning in November? Or perhaps the better question is, which of these potential picks is best qualified to be the proverbial one heartbeat away?

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