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May 23, 2024

Pick the Hillbilly, Trump

The two complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses, as running mates should.

Now that it looks like Trump is seriously going to be the Republican nominee for president, who should his vice president be?

If he’s headed for a catastrophic, 1964-style defeat, then he should definitely pick Nikki Haley or Kari Lake. Another four years of Joe Biden will be a disaster for the country, but at least we can accomplish something by ridding ourselves of these pestilences. (Nikki because the media will finally look at her, and Kari because the voters will.)

Come to think of it, let’s add the cast of “The View” to that list.

On the other hand, if there’s the remotest possibility that Trump could win, he ought to pick Sen. J.D. Vance of Ohio. The two complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses, as running mates should. Vance is smart, Trump is not. Vance is not exciting, Trump is too exciting; Trump is from Florida, Vance is not.

There’s no chance of his overshadowing Trump. Only 200 people in the entire country will care that Vance is smart. Everyone else seems to want Trump’s razzamatazz. The ex-president can keep being Rodney Dangerfield, and Vance will be the accountant.

Vance’s one flaw is his slavish loyalty to Trump, but I feel Trump is magnanimous enough to overlook this shortcoming.

Moreover, Republicans could really use a boost in Ohio this year, where popular Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown is running for reelection in an increasingly red state. Having Vance on the presidential ticket might be enough to flip the seat. Let’s just hope Trump is not the sort of person who cares only about himself.

Because, boy, does he owe us. In the last few election cycles, he’s cost the GOP Senate seats in Alabama (Luther Strange), New Hampshire (Don Bolduc), and three (yes — three!) Senate seats in Georgia (David Perdue, Kelly Loeffler and Herschel Walker). I’m also counting Blake Masters in Arizona because of that asinine — and well-publicized! — call Trump made to him days before the election.

Trump’s only other potential running mate who isn’t completely preposterous is the all-new, anti-immigration Sen. Marco Rubio. But here, Vance has a razor-thin edge by virtue of not being constitutionally prohibited from being Trump’s vice president — at least not without sacrificing all 30 of Florida’s electoral votes.

While it was wildly helpful for The Washington Post to unfurl a lengthy exegesis this week on the reasons the Post thinks Rubio would make a terrible, awful vice president (on “Meet The Press,” he refused to pre-certify the 2024 election as fair, and he doesn’t agree with the Post that it is beyond all human capacity to deport illegal aliens), the paper can save its breath. Rubio can’t be Trump’s VP.

The 12th Amendment (or the 11th, if you’re a Democrat and you don’t believe the Second Amendment exists) provides:

“The Electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves[.]”

This provision is not incidental, archaic or easily evaded by a quick move to another state (as endless news outlets have claimed). If Trump is sworn in again, he can’t swear to preserve, protect and defend “quite a lot of the Constitution.”

Although the 12th Amendment made other changes to the Electoral College, the prohibition on the president and vice president being from the same state was in the original Constitution. It wasn’t an afterthought.

The framers were concerned about any one state gaining too much power. That’s why, for example, the district that houses the federal government can’t be a state. As James Madison explained in Federalist No. 10: “The influence of factious leaders may kindle a flame within their particular States, but will be unable to spread a general conflagration through the other States.”

(Look at California for specific instances of loony contagions sweeping an entire state.)

And no, Rubio can’t just move to another state before the election to avoid the 12th Amendment problem. Dick Cheney is cited as the example of a quickie pre-election residence change because in 2000, he moved from Texas to Wyoming days before becoming George W. Bush’s running mate.

But that wasn’t an obvious scam.

Regarding Cheney’s inhabitance, a federal court found:

“It is undisputed that he was born, raised, educated and married in Wyoming and represented the state as a Member of Congress for six terms. After additional public service, he eventually moved to Dallas, Texas, to become the Chief Executive Officer of Halliburton Corporation.”

(Talk about your obscure Dick Cheney trivia! Who knew he ever worked for Halliburton? I’m surprised the Democrats never mentioned that.)

Even during his five brief years as Halliburton’s CEO, Cheney still received mail in Wyoming and maintained a registered vehicle there. When Bush chose him, Cheney resigned from Halliburton, sold his house in Texas and moved back to Wyoming. Then, just for good measure, Cheney shot a Texas friend in the face.

Except for his senatorial duties in Washington (which don’t count toward residency), Rubio has no conceivable connection to any place in the country except Florida.

Of course, if Fox News is telling the truth about Trump cruising to victory, possibly flipping New York and winning shockingly large percentages of the black and Hispanic vote, then, sure, he can sacrifice Florida’s 30 electoral votes.

But if Fox is just whispering sweet nothings in right-wingers’ ears, there’s no way Trump can concede the third-largest state before the voting even starts.

Surely, we can trust Fox to tell viewers the truth.

— Reason magazine, April 18, 2023: “In a $788 Million Defamation Settlement, Fox News Admits That It Spread False Claims About Election Fraud”

— Associated Press, April 19, 2023: “Fox settlement part of flurry of lawsuits over election lies”

— VOX, April 18, 2023: “Fox pays $787 million for its 2020 election lies”

Back to the original question: Can Trump win? My calculation is, if the election is about Trump, he loses; if the election is about the media and the prosecutions, he wins. The one advantage we have this year is that liberals’ hatred for Trump has driven them out of their cotton-picking minds.

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