Trump VP guessing game heats up as final votes near
By Evan Lips | May 2, 2016, 19:12 EST
After Ted Cruz, running a distant second to Donald Trump in the race to secure the Republican presidential nod, picked Carly Fiorina as his erstwhile running mate, the level of speculation as to who Trump will recruit as his vice presidential candidate reached fever pitch as the final primary votes neared.
Some have suggested one former presidential contender, who has pledged his allegiance to Team Trump, would be the man – New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. The Garden State chief’s potential rose considerably in March when he dropped out of the Granite State primary and subsequently endorsed The Donald. More recently, though, Christie spoke in the third-person when replying to questions about his vice presidential aspirations.
“Chris Christie is not interviewing (for) or considering any other public job,” the governor told a NJ.com reporter, leaving out how he would respond if the New York billionaire asked him to join the ticket. “The fact is, that’s not been part of my discussions with Mr. Trump in the lead-up to my endorsement, and I can only tell you that you don’t interview for those jobs.”
Nonetheless, Christie ranks as the No. 1 suspect for Washington Post political pundit Chris Cillizza. He ranked his top five potential GOP VP candidates on Friday, assuming Trump wins the party’s nomination. Trump himself told a reporter last week that Christie “is fantastic” and indicated he would be considered.
Cillizza also pointed to one characteristic Christie can tout over potential rivals: loyalty.
“No one has risked more with his support for Trump than Christie, who has been mocked and dismissed by the GOP establishment for the decision,” Cillizza said.
Writing for the conservative National Review, regular contributor Jim Geraghty called Christie “an obvious prospect” as a Trump running mate.
“He was one of the first major Republican rivals to endorse Trump, and he did so at the moment when Trump needed it most, resetting the news cycle in a week when Marco Rubio had torn the front-runner apart,” Geraghty wrote.
Rubio, the former rival whom Trump mercilessly dubbed “Little Marco,” has declared his intent to leave politics at the end of his term as a U.S. Senator from Florida. His declared disinterest in further campaigning may show how Trump, a former reality television star, has eliminated a large crowd of potential running mates with his high-profile insults, name-calling and other disrespectful jabs. Geraghty notes about the Floridian that a “decision to join Trump would represent the disavowal of everything Rubio said about Donald Trump and conservatism during his campaign.”
If the level of past insults and mockery predicates whether a Trump pick would agree to join him as a running mate, then Carly Fiorina could be counted out.
It was Trump after all who made fun of Fiorina’s appearance in an interview published by Rolling Stone magazine.
Here are a few other former (and one still current) GOP presidential contenders who Trump has insulted:
1. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal. Last September a war of put-downs erupted between Jindal and Trump, as Jindal desperately tried to boost his deteriorating poll numbers. Unlike other dust-ups involving Trump, he didn’t start this one. In a lengthy article published by CNN.com, the Indian-American governor tore into the New York developer, calling him a “narcissist” and describing him as a “madman that must be stopped.”
Trump dismissed Jindal as a “lightweight” and even took to Twitter.com to hurl his own insults. His ultimate put-down came as he stated that Jindal will “only respond to people who register more than 1 percent in the polls.”
2. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Where do we start? From Trump’s labeling of Bush as “low-energy” to outright calling him “dumb as a rock,” there is no love lost between these two.
3. Dr. Ben Carson. The retired neurosurgeon enjoyed a fleeting moment of success, as early polls showed him leading the pack in Iowa, but his campaign later plummeted as insults delivered by Trump increased. In November, commenting on Carson’s description of his “pathological temper,” Trump suggested the condition was incurable and likened the pediatric surgeon to a “child molester.”
Carson, however, endorsed Trump in March, after dropping from contention. Shortly after announcing his support, Carson reportedly said Trump had asked him to work for him in at least “an advisory capacity” if he real estate mogul wins the White House.
4. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. Trump, during the second debate, knocked Paul’s appearance and said the libertarian ophthalmologist’s sagging poll numbers meant he “shouldn’t even be on the stage.”
5. Ohio Gov. John Kasich. Still in the race despite having won only his home state’s primary, Kasich has most recently been crowned by Trump with a new nickname, and one that appears to update after each subsequent primary. What began as the nickname “1 for 38 Kasich” has now grown to “1 for 48 Kasich.”
Trump has also insulted the former congressman for his dining methods.
“I have never seen a human being eat in such a disgusting fashion,” Trump said last week.
Asked by the New York Times if Kasich would consider a Trump invitation to join his presidential ticket, a Kasich spokesman said simply, “no chance.”
So with the field winnowed by so much sarcasm and vitriol, who might The Donald turn to and expect to get to yes?
1. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin. Fallin, a Republican who could be crucial in Trump’s quest to sway female voters, happens to have a resume that includes legislative experience dating to 1990 and sides with Trump on national security issues, including opposing the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the U.S.
Trump, in a CNN interview last month, praised Fallin’s potential as a VP candidate. After South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Brauer mentioned that Fallin would be a great choice, Trump took to Twitter to agree.
2. Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions. Trump, who hasn’t served in elective office, has said he’d like to select a running mate with political experience. Sessions, who has held his seat since 1997, was the first and remains the only U.S. Senator to endorse Trump. In an April 2 Washington Post interview, Trump stressed that he’s looking for “somebody that can walk into the Senate and who’s been friendly with these guys for 25 years.”
A few days later, however, Sessions told The Hill news site that he hasn’t considered being Trump’s running mate. The New York Times, in a rundown posted Sunday, pointed out that Sessions has said he would undergo a VP vetting process, if asked.
3. Former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown. Throughout the lead up to the New Hampshire primary, Brown hosted speaking events for various GOP candidates. Trump praised him at one of the final such events in January, saying Brown would make for a “very good” VP pick. On the eve of the voting in the Granite State, Brown came out and endorsed the New Yorker.