As the Trump carnival campaign rolls past petrified Republican Party officials, egg-on-their-face pundits, media executives gleeful over this primary season’s ratings bonanza and all manner of angry, left-behind voters, it’s time to take a serious look at who might be standing at The Donald’s side next July in Cleveland as the GOP National Convention cheers (or jeers) for its 2016 presidential ticket.
Although Trump seems to be making a concerted effort to appear more “presidential” by delivering a speech on foreign policy in Washington on April 27 and more traditional by bringing in grown-ups like veteran GOP political operative Paul Manafort, his choice of a running mate could still be as unconventional as his can’t-look-away campaign has been.
Among the obvious candidates are former rivals like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who threw himself onto Trump’s gold-plated bandwagon shortly after pulling out of the primary race; Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who would help in his crucial home state and possibly offset some of the Hispanic animus toward the illegal immigrant-bashing billionaire; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, an early primary dropout and former darling of conservative fat cats; and Ben Carson, the soft-spoken former neurosurgeon who has endorsed Trump and could add gravitas to the ticket — plus as an African American, he might make it seem more inclusive.
Then there are current rivals Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. Selecting either one, though Kasich more than Cruz, could help repair a fractured Republican Party, but walking back some of their attacks on Trump could be difficult.
If the national polls are accurate and Trump must overcome an 8 percent deficit to beat Democrat Hillary Clinton – and everything currently points to her as her party’s nominee – he might want to put a woman on his ticket.
Former Alaska Governor and vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin would be the gonzo choice. But the Saturday Night Live skit following her endorsement of Trump might be enough to give him pause.
Arizona Representative Martha McSally is not only a woman but a retired Air Force colonel who flew combat missions, a triathlete and a member of the Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees. She could help bolster a Trump ticket’s bona fides on national security and the fight against ISIS.
Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst also has military record to tout, having been a lieutenant colonel in the Army National Guard, and her startling swift rise has been helped by support from wealthy conservatives, who presumably would look more kindly on Trump as the GOP standard bearer with her on his team.
Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina has an impressive command of the issues but has the same problem as Cruz and Kasich. As a Republican primary rival, she was a caustic critic of Trump and has continued to call him to account as she stumps for Cruz (on Monday she declined to rule out running as Cruz’s veep if asked). Still, if Trump wants an attack dog, not one of the candidates in either party this election season is as fierce a Rottweiler when it comes to Clinton as Fiorina is: She would clamp onto a leg of Hillary’s pantsuit and never let go.
Trump/Fiorina? Yes, this election could get stranger.