The Donald Trump veep guessing game is silly - GulfToday

The Donald Trump veep guessing game is silly

Mike Pence

Mike Pence

Jackie Calmes, Tribune News Service

For all the conjecture and wishcasting about who or what could knock President Joe Biden or Donald Trump out of the 2024 presidential race, their rematch was never much in doubt. Instead, in a measure of just how dispiriting the contest is, the only real question has been a relatively inconsequential one: Who will be Trump’s running mate? That question should be: Who would want to be his running mate? Trump, after all, rewarded former Vice President Mike Pence for his four years of emasculating sycophancy by abandoning him to the mercies of the mob that wanted to hang Pence on Jan. 6, 2021, and telling an advisor, “Maybe our supporters have the right idea.” Pence, in a rebuke of his own, says he won’t vote for “anyone that puts themselves over the Constitution.”

Pence’s sorry treatment at Trump’s hands apparently is no turnoff, however, for ambitious Republicans coveting proximity to power and possession of Air Force Two, should Trump be elected again. There is no shortage of veep wannabes for the disgraced former president to choose from. And there’s no shortage of press guessing either. The quadrennial veepstakes speculation has been revving up and will go into overdrive over the next month, given Trump’s talk that he’ll wait to name his choice at the Republican National Convention in mid-July. “I have sort of a pretty good idea,” he teased Fox News on Thursday, and media speculators lately are betting on Sens. J.D. Vance of Ohio, Marco Rubio of Florida or North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum — MAGA men all, easily meeting the job requirement of being duly obsequious.

The whole speculative exercise is silly and always has been. For evidence, consider how often reporters and pundits have been surprised over the past half-century. In August 1988, I was huddled with other Washington reporters around a newsroom TV to watch George H.W. Bush unveil his vice presidential pick. To our shock, and nearly every pundit’s as well, he named the boyish Sen. Dan Quayle. “Bush not only didn’t name the best senator,” a co-worker exclaimed, “he didn’t name the best senator from Indiana!” (That was Richard Lugar).

Bush himself was something of a surprise VP choice when Ronald Reagan tapped him at the 1980 Republican convention, given the two men’s poisonous rivalry for the nomination. Reagan landed on Bush only after Reagan failed in his bid to produce a stunner for the ages: a supposed“dream ticket” with former President Gerald R. Ford in the vice presidential slot, promising a sort of co-presidency if they won. In 1984 virtually no media types who tried to anticipate Walter Mondale’s Democratic running mate had among their top bets the relatively obscure Rep. Geraldine Ferraro of New York, but Mondale made her the first woman on a major-party presidential ticket. Because presidential candidates typically look for a partner who complements them — say, by their age, region or experience — Bill Clinton in 1992 pulled a fast one by selecting Sen. Al Gore of Tennessee, a fellow southerner, boomer and moderate Democrat. Eight years later, when Gore was Democrats’ 2000 standard bearer, few journalists had Connecticut’s Sen. Joe Lieberman as a leading contender, but he became the first Jewish nominee on a major-party ticket. The big-time stumper that year, however, was on the Republican side: George W. Bush passed over the prospects that advisor Dick Cheney was vetting and tapped Cheney himself. John McCain, needing to jump-start his 2008 campaign, brushed aside prominent Republican governors and senators that journalists (and McCain advisors) were promoting as veep contenders and settled for shock value on novice Alaska Gov.


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