Question: What percentage of Donald Trump’s workday is spent discussing and vetting potential 2024 running mates?
For the average person, it’s impossible to answer. It might even be tough to intelligently reply if you’re a member of Trump’s inner circle, since his official calendar wouldn’t necessarily include “daily deliberations on possible vice presidents.” And there’s no telling what’s going on inside Trump’s own brain, since he’s not always inclined to discuss his thoughts, and, let’s face it, tends to change his mind frequently.
The fact that Trump’s process is so nebulous to the establishment media world isn’t stopping some commentators from doing their own speculating. In a piece titled, “So, who might be Donald Trump's running mate?”, CNN’s Chris Cillizza wrote:
“Who Trump might pick as his vice presidential nominee is not … a purely theoretical discussion. Trump is showing every sign of running for president again, and there's been little to suggest that he would face any serious competition for the nomination.
“So, who might Trump pick? Let's go through a few of the most obvious options. (While vice presidential nominees are often runners-up for the party's nod, Trump is not the kind of person to forgive and forget. Which means that if any of these people wind up challenging Trump for the GOP nomination in two years, they are likely off the VP list.)
“Ron DeSantis… Nikki Haley… Tim Scott… Glenn Youngkin… Ted Cruz…”
Cillizza began his piece with the recently released news that Trump indicated Mike Pence will not be with him for a third go ‘round in 2024, a subject I addressed earlier this week. Cillizza is a liberal and works for CNN, so of course his first inclination is to spread noxious gossip that tends to inflame Trump supporters and people who are merely curious about what the former president is up to.
Regardless of Cillizza’s biases, he did mention some interesting possibilities for Trump.
The most logical choice in everyone’s estimation is for Trump to select Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. The rationales for doing so are many: DeSantis has accomplished a lot in his state, which hasn’t always been easy since the media takes everything he does and immediately brands the action as either anti-science, racist, sexist, hateful, bigoted, anti-LGBTQ, backwards, anti-life (as in being against gun control and saving the lives of high school students, etc.), being a Trump-clone and, who knows, maybe the man smiles too much for the leftists to tolerate.
But DeSantis’s biggest accomplishment doesn’t draw much comment from the pundits, prognosticators and self-interested horserace promoters searching for a storyline to feature on cable news. DeSantis has established an identity outside and apart from Trump. Before any potential 2024 campaign would even start, Ron has near universal name recognition, and the media’s over-the-top savagery has no doubt provided him millions in “free” coverage.
That’s a rare quality. If you’re skeptical, try and name another Republican governor in today’s political arena -- or even yesterday’s political world -- that has elevated him or herself faster than Ron DeSantis. Well, you say, there was Ronald Reagan in the sixties and seventies. True, Reagan instituted his own conservative political movement, but he was greatly aided by his “A Time for Choosing” speech touting Barry Goldwater in 1964 as well as his previous exposure on the silver screen and status as former president of the Screen Actors Guild.
Americans knew Reagan’s face even if they hadn’t yet listened to his political views. Reagan’s professional acting skills helped him deliver his message, too, leading to the nickname of “The Great Communicator.”
George W. Bush (Governor of Texas) doesn’t count either, since he was a former president’s son and de facto leader of the DC establishment political family.
By comparison, DeSantis came from relative nowhere and hasn’t even reached his mid-forties (he’ll turn 44 in mid-September). Ron served three terms in Congress before running for and being elected The Sunshine State’s governor. DeSantis is so young that he and wife Casey have three children who still haven’t reached elementary school age yet. He hasn’t completed one full term as governor and already he’s brought up as a potential major party presidential candidate.
One interesting note: DeSantis and fellow Republican Representative Jeff Duncan came face to face with Bernie Sanders supporter James Hodgkinson before the leftist nut opened fire on a baseball field full of Republicans in June of 2017.
It’s conceivable that DeSantis’s star could fade just as fast as it’s arisen, but this isn’t expected. Even if he were to lose his reelection bid later this year -- which polls show is incredibly unlikely unless there was some major catastrophe or provable scandal -- Ron would still have his record and demonstrated anti-establishment attitude to lean on.
The question then becomes whether DeSantis would even want to serve as Trump’s vice president. Senile Joe Biden’s experience aside, it’s not a given that a vice president is the next in line for a party nomination. Cackling Kamala Harris has shown that being vice president isn’t always glamourous and you’re basically at the mercy and good graces of the top dog to make sure you look good.
DeSantis could decide to remain in Florida and put more “points on the scoreboard” by taking on liberals and Democrats and beating them soundly at their own game for four more years before seeking an electoral promotion. His children will still be very young in 2028, won’t they? And many of the same national problems will need to be solved by a leader who could follow Trump.
Moving to the others Cillizza mentioned, he probably tossed Nikki Haley’s name in there because of her demographic would-be positives. Yes, Haley is obviously female and she’s full-blooded Indian American as opposed to Kamala Harris, who claims only half South Asian heritage. But besides gender and ethnic background, Haley would bring little to the ticket. She’s from a redder than red state (South Carolina), didn’t endorse Trump right away in 2016 and frequently waffles on practically everything conservatives care about.
Haley is the establishment’s choice for a Trump running mate. It’s hard to envision Trump trusting her to do the right things when the moment demands it, simply because she rarely has before. Would Nikki have done Trump’s bidding on the Electoral College votes in January, 2021? Hardly. She has no backbone.
Tim Scott is also from South Carolina and is a pretty solid guy with a good record of supporting Trump’s MAGA agenda. But if Trump were to choose him, the media would pick apart the selection as though it were made solely on Scott’s skin color alone (he’s African-American in case you didn’t know). Scott is also fairly independent thinking in his beliefs, which Trump would see as potentially problematic if the president needed someone to tout the administration’s line on a controversial cultural topic. Scott speaks his mind -- which is great for a politician, but not necessarily for Trump’s veep.
Remember Trump’s comments after Charlottesville in August of 2017? Scott met with the president to critique how the president responded to the violence -- which wasn’t offensive at all when taken in context -- and said Trump had “obviously reflected” on his post-event remarks. Do you think Trump will have forgotten the hubbub?
Cillizza’s biggest stretch was to include Glenn Younkin’s name as a possible Trump running mate. Youngkin’s only been in office two months as Virginia’s governor, and he’s doing what appears to be an excellent job, but there isn’t enough there -- yet -- to merit being entered into a pretty exclusive club (Trump’s next in line). Unlike DeSantis, Youngkin hasn’t notched an impressive list of conservative victories. Glenn needs to consistently take on the left and do it publicly -- like DeSantis does -- and then perhaps Trump will take notice of him.
Youngkin also didn’t talk about Trump much during his 2021 campaign. I’m not sure he’ll be seen by the image-obsessed former president as someone who will speak out on the agenda in a forceful enough manner.
Lastly, Ted Cruz? As a big fan of both men, I still doubt Trump would ever seriously consider “Lyin’ Ted” for his vice president. There doesn’t appear to be any leftover residual dislike from the 2016 campaign, and their relationship has only improved since Ted swallowed his pride and endorsed Trump late in the general election campaign.
But Cruz isn’t right for Trump’s running mate. What would the Texas boat-rocking senator bring to the ticket? Liberals revile Cruz as much as they do Trump. It’s unlikely that “moderate” independent voters would be titillated by a Trump/Cruz ticket. Ted is many things, but a bridge-builder he’s not. Cruz’s recent comments on January 6 protesters being akin to “domestic terrorists” wouldn’t help his cause, either.
Media personalities trying to predict who Donald Trump will choose for his running mate invariably leave out one crucial factor in his possession: he’ll select anybody he darn well wants to. Trump will look for someone who adds credibility, flavor and pizzazz to his candidacy. It’s not a demographic choice -- he’s not a Democrat. But whoever Trump tabs, the person had better be prepared for a heck of a journey.
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