Who will be Trump's VP pick?
And a border bill update
Donald Trump has not yet secured the Republican nomination, but that is looking increasingly likely. Even though Nikki Haley is still in the race, I’m going to spend some time today on one of the next steps for the presumptive nominee, picking a running mate.
If I had to rank what I think Trump will be looking for in a running mate, I’d say that his top priorities will be:
There will be other considerations as well. Whether the person would help to carry swing states is a common consideration and sometimes some thought is even given as to whether the person would be capable of running the country in an emergency. All of these other points are secondary.
Bearing that in mind, here are a few potential choices:
Nikki Haley - This would be a bad idea for both Trump and Haley. From Trump’s perspective, I expect him to pick a sycophant, not someone with a mind of her own. After his experience with Mike Pence, Trump will want someone who will do his bidding without asking questions. Trump wants a running mate who, when he says jump, will ask how high on the way up.
A large part of Trump’s decision to pick Pence was about bringing the evangelical right on board. That’s not a problem for him this year so Trump can focus on loyalty.
It wouldn’t be a good idea for Haley to accept the position if Trump made the offer. I can’t understand why any serious politician would accept a spot on the ticket or in Trump’s administration after seeing how the first one ended for so many staffers. Trump’s Administration is a long list of shattered careers, disbarments, indictments, and jail terms. If the thought entered Haley’s head, Tim Scott’s humiliating movement in New Hampshire should be enough to quash the notion.
Even if Haley took the VP slot, she would never be accepted by MAGA. She will never be trusted by the inner circle, and she will be discarded the moment that she isn’t useful. Serving with Trump is more likely to be a career-ender than a stepping stone.
Being Trump’s vice president is not a path to a presidential nomination. Just ask Mike Pence, who would not have won the nomination even if Trump had not run.
Ron DeSantis - Aside from the constitutional problem of nominating two people from the same state, many of the objections to Haley also apply to DeSantis. He has gone too far in confronting Trump to be a serious VP choice.
Tim Scott - Scott is a real possibility. There are obvious advantages to having a black man on the ticket, a demographic with which Trump did better in 2020 than recent Republicans. Still, I’m not sure Scott passes the loyalty test after having run against Trump in the primary. I’m also not sure that Scott, with an approval rating of 25 percent, would bring many black voters with him.
Vivek Ramaswamy - Another minority and one who is unquestionably loyal to Trump (except for running against him). Vivek could be a real possibility. He is seems to be an intellectual lightweight, which might actually boost his chances. Trump publicly attacked Ramaswamy ahead of the Iowa caucuses, but that was before he dropped out.
Marjorie Taylor Greene - I’m sure that MTG wants the VP slot. She has been seen (by me) campaigning with Trump in her home state of Georgia, a battleground state. It makes sense on paper, a female Republican firebrand from a swing state, until you consider that she is as crazy as a bedbug and can’t get along with other Republicans. MTG proved to be too much for even the Freedom Caucus after getting into a feud with fellow nutter, Lauren Boebert.
There’s really no upside here. MTG wouldn’t bring many voters and isn’t very popular in Georgia. I think Trump is the favorite in Georgia at this point, but MTG won’t win over people who weren’t going to vote Trump anyway and might turn off some undecided voters. She has no leadership experience to speak of that would help her in fulfilling a vice president’s break-glass-in-case-of-emergency role.
Lauren Boebert - The Colorado congresswoman has her own problems. Boebert’s margin in 2022 was only 554 votes and she has since moved to a neighboring district to boost her chances of re-election. Boebert was also ejected from a theater last year for vaping and what I’ll call “heavy petting” during a performance of “Beetlejuice.” Boebert is also recently divorced. Like MTG, she would bring a lot of baggage to the ticket with little upside.
Kristi Noem - The South Dakota governor checks a lot of the boxes. She is unswervingly loyal and an experienced politician. Noem is a MAGA favorite and a true believer… or at least a true hanger-on. Unlike Haley, Noem’s calculation on accepting a VP offer makes more sense since she’s already on the inside. Nominating a woman might help Trump cut his losses with the suburban voters who have done so much to throw up roadblocks to MAGA plans.
Elise Stefanik - Stefanik is the fourth-ranking House Republican. She isn’t a true believer, but she is a loyalist. She apparently made a conscious decision during Trump’s first impeachment that the pathway to power in the GOP was on Trump’s coattails and abruptly switched from Trump critic to Trump cheerleader. In 2021, her loyalty paid off, and she moved into Liz Cheney’s role as chair of the House Republican Conference. Most recently, she made headlines for her pointed questioning of college presidents after the October 7 attacks. Stefanik is an obscure enough politician that the VP slot would boost her image, and she is firmly committed to Trump at this point.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders - Sanders, now governor of Arkansas, is one of the few Trump Administration alums to be successful after parting ways with Trump. She’s a loyalist and is well-known to Trump after serving as his press secretary.
Kari Lake - A MAGA favorite but the Trump ticket needs less crazy not more. The upside is that she is from Arizona, another swing state. The downside is that she lost Arizona.
Jim Jordan - This option was suggested when the Racket News ran a Platform-Formerly-Known-as-Twitter poll asking about Trump’s running mate. Ohio is always important to Republican presidential campaigns, and Jim Jordan is nothing if not loyal. I’m leaning against a white guy with so many women and minority options to choose from though.
The Trump kids - Another option from our poll. While I don’t think Trump would be above putting one of his kids (or their spouses in the case of Jared Kushner) on the ticket, it would be a heavy lift for the election. He would be more likely to quietly put them back on the taxpayer dole if he wins.
In my view, I think that Kristi Noem, Elise Stefanik, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Tim Scott are the most likely contenders for the VP slot. The Republican Party is often viewed at best as a white man’s party and at worst as a racist and misogynist cabal. Putting an ethnic minority or a woman on the ticket would be an attempt to combat that image. For what it’s worth, as I write this, Predict It has Stefanik in the lead with Noem and Scott not far behind.
In the end, I think Scott’s ability to deliver blacks is very limited and his loyalty is suspect. I don’t think he’ll make the final cut.
From a demographic perspective, a woman makes more sense because of the GOP’s problems with suburbs and women in the wake of Dobbs. Of the top three, I’d lean toward Noem because of her experience as a governor. Unlike Sanders, she has served a full term and been re-elected.
On the other hand, I tend to think logically and we are talking about Donald Trump. There’s a good chance that you’d be safe to ignore everything I just said if you were placing a bet on who he’d pick.
And like clockwork, as I was finishing this piece. I saw that Trump is reported considering Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. This ignores everything I said about strategy and would put two old white nutjobs, one still a Democrat, at the top of the Republican ticket. It makes no sense at all, so I have to boost that possibility to the top of my list.
BORDER BARGAIN UPDATE: Some details of the emerging border compromise leaked over the weekend and the deal is much better for Republicans than I expected. Per Fox News correspondent Bill Melugin and CNN, the compromise includes:
Authority to close border crossings if illegal encounters exceed 4,000 in a week
Mandatory closings if illegal encounters average above 5,000 per week
Mandatory closings if illegal crossings exceed 8,500 in a day
Migrants would be immediately removed during closed border periods without having a chance to ask for asylum
Migrants who can prove they are fleeing persecution would be allowed to stay
Migrants caught crossing a closed border twice would be banned from entering the US for one year
A minimum of 1,400 asylum applications would still be processed daily through legal ports of entry
Shutdowns would not lift until crossings average below 3,750 for two weeks
Migrants with no asylum claims would be removed immediately
Asylum claims would be resolved within 6 months
Some family units would be given alternatives to detention such as ankle monitors
I’d like more details on what other reforms to the asylum system are included as well as whether there is more funding for items such as more immigration judges to ease backlogs and more beds to house detainees.
The bill gives a lot to Republicans, and they’d be foolish to reject it. It’s more than they could get under a Trump presidency without a supermajority and a heckuva lot more than they’re likely to get in a new Biden term. It would also be more permanent than executive actions.
Biden has already endorsed the deal. The question is whether Republicans want to solve border crisis badly enough to give Biden a win. I’m not sure they do. The track record is not good since the fringe right has scuttled almost every attempt at immigration reform that I can think of, and for those in doubt that MAGA is trying to kill this bill, Trump says, “Please blame it on me. Please.”
Honestly, this bill seems more draconian than it should be, but I support it because immigration reform is badly needed. If Republicans really want border security, they’ll jump at the chance. If they don’t, they’ll have no one to blame for the border crisis but themselves.
And to understand why some Republicans oppose the bill, I invite you to peruse the comments to Melugin’s post. Quite a few internet users want the limit to be even lower: Zero.
That’s unrealistic, economically disastrous, and more than a little racist, but it shines light on the true agenda of many opponents of immigration reform. It also explains why no bill is ever good enough for a shrill minority that has the ear of Congress.
US SOLDIERS KILLED IN JORDAN: Three US Army soldiers were killed and 34 were injured by a drone attack on an outpost in Jordan near the Syrian border. Reuters reports that there have been more 150 such attacks since the onset of the Gaza War. Iranian-backed militants are blamed.
At a campaign event, President Biden asked for a moment of silence and said, "We shall respond."
MOVIE RECOMMENDATION: If you have Netflix, look up “Extinction,” a 2018 made-for-Netflix sci-fi thriller starring Michael Peña. I first saw this a few years and rewatched it with my daughter over the weekend. The movie features an alien invasion but there’s a wild plot twist. Production values are good and it’s very well-acted. It’s a great movie.
I’m not going to spoil anything, but it did make me think that it could be an allegory for the Gaza War in many ways. Or maybe it’s just a sad commentary on war in general.
The movie is rated TV-MA for violence, but there’s no sex and I don’t recall any profanity.
NO BYE-KU: Last but not least, Marianne Williamson denied a rumor that she was ending her presidential campaign, so no bye-ku yet.
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