Home/Daniel Larison/Trump’s Very Small Pool of Possible Running Mates

Trump’s Very Small Pool of Possible Running Mates

The New York Times has an odd report on Trump’s VP nominee search:

By dismissing much of the party’s next-generation talent — people who would probably have been on the vice-presidential short list for a different nominee, like Jeb Bush — Mr. Trump has reaffirmed his determination to go his own way, ignoring the conventional impulses of the Republican establishment.

The main reason Trump isn’t considering any of the “next-generation talent” for the position is that almost all of them have been bitterly opposed to his nomination and wouldn’t be willing to be on the ticket with him. This is not so much a case of Trump’s “dismissing” them as it is their rejection of him. It’s probably true that some of them would have been on the shortlist for a different nominee, but then that’s because they wouldn’t have considered a different nominee to be so completely unacceptable. They don’t want to be associated with him because they think they have a future in the party and don’t want to jeopardize it.

Another curious thing about this article is that most of the politicians it names would be strange or bad choices for the position for one reason or another. For instance, putting Nevada Gov. Sandoval on the ticket might seem clever until you remember that he is pro-choice. That would give anti-Trump Republicans a ready-made excuse to abandon the ticket and would almost certainly depress conservative turnout even further. New Hampshire Sen. Ayotte is mentioned as another possibility, but she is already in a tough fight for re-election to her second term. Choosing her would mean giving up on holding that seat. Besides, it’s not obvious that she would be ready to be president in an emergency in any case. New Mexico Gov. Martinez would have been an interesting choice, but Trump made clear months ago that she wasn’t in consideration when he publicly bashed her over. Walker might seem like a more plausible choice, but considering how hapless he was on foreign policy as a presidential candidate it isn’t clear why anyone would want him as a running mate. Kasich is one of the few people mentioned that would be qualified for the position, but despite the certainty of anti-Trump Republicans that he was angling for the job he has no desire to work with Trump.

The so-called “brightest stars” aren’t interested because they assume they would be killing their careers if they joined Trump. It is telling that the people that have gone through Trump’s vetting process to the end are either appear to be at the end of their political careers or aren’t in elected office. Joining Trump represents an opportunity for the likes of Gingrich and Christie, while it represents political suicide for almost everyone else.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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