Donald Trump’s potential vice presidential candidates keep firing themselves. Or voting themselves off the Island. Or refusing to accept the rose. Or basically doing whatever it is they need to do to avoid being cast as sidekick to the former reality television star in his latest project.
Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, the chairman of the prestigious Foreign Relations Committee, was being considered for the post by the Trump campaign. He appeared with Trump on the campaign trail Tuesday, and was showered with praise by the presumptive nominee.
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By Wednesday, though, Corker told The Washington Post that he had informed Trump that he was no longer interested in being considered. In a later interview with CNN, he said, "I feel like I'm better suited to other kinds of things and I think there are probably better suited people for this particular job for now.”
Another potential candidate had been first-term Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, who also campaigned with Trump this week. But on Wednesday, she, too, took herself out of the running. In an interview with Politico, she said that she sees her role in the presidential campaign as “more of an advocate.”
She added, “I made that very clear to him that I’m focused on Iowa. I feel that I have a lot more to do in the United States Senate. And Iowa is where my heart is,” Ernst said. “I’m just getting started here. I have a great partner with Chuck Grassley, we’ve been able to accomplish a lot. And I think that President Trump will need some great assistance in the United States Senate and I can provide that.”
The truth is that most Republicans with a political future seem to regard the idea of serving as Trump’s number two as unappealing at best and politically suicidal at worst. Vice presidents are often pulled from the field of also-rans in the presidential primary, but so far none seem interested.
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Not only has Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said that he would take a pass, he has now backtracked on his statement that he would be willing to speak at the Republican national convention, where Trump is expected to be nominated next month.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, in whose state that convention will be held, has likewise said that he is not interested in serving with Trump in the White House.
So it increasingly looks as though Trump will be pulling from a field of hopefuls who see latching on to his coattails as their only hope at a political future. Embattled New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is still in the running, and would probably appreciate the opportunity to spend less time in his home state, where both his popularity and his credibility are in the tank.
But as of Wednesday evening, if anybody looked to have the inside track, it was former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who appeared at a rally in Ohio with the former reality television star.
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The 73-year-old former congressman from Georgia, who resigned his speakership and his seat in 1999 while under a cloud of ethics violations and facing a rebellion of his fellow Republicans, was well-received by a crowd that chanted his name when he appeared on stage.
Gingrich gave a forceful speech, attacking presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton over the controversial decision by the Department of Justice not to prosecute her for the use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.
In doing so, Gingrich showed much more discipline than Trump, who instead of focusing on Clinton’s vulnerability, careened off-script to revisit the controversy over a tweet sent out by his campaign last week that appeared to many to contain anti-Semitic imagery. The image accused Clinton of corruption, with the words “most corrupt candidate ever” written inside a Star of David and superimposed over a pile of money.
In remarks that frequently degenerated into a shouting rant, Trump at one point said that he was sorry that his campaign had removed the tweet before replacing the star with a circle. He would have preferred it if they had left it up and allowed him to defend it.
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“When they told me the Star of David I said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding, how sick are they?’ They’re the ones with the bad tendencies when they think that way,” Trump said. “These people are sick, folks. I’m telling you, they’re sick.”
At one point, Trump flailed at what he said was a mosquito near him on the stage, and said, “Speaking of mosquitoes, Hello Hillary, how are you doing?”
Trump, at least, seemed very pleased with his potential running mate.
“I’m not saying anything and I’m not telling Newt anything,” Trump teased the crowd. “But I can tell you, in one form or another, Newt Gingrich will be involved with our government, okay?”
He added, “I’ll tell you one thing folks, I’m not saying it’s Newt, but if it’s Newt, nobody’s going to be beating him in those debates, that’s for sure, right? Nobody is beating our Newt in the debates.”
How Gingrich felt about things by the end of the evening was unclear.