Tuesday, July 05, 2016

The Trump Veepstakes: Or, Guess Who Has To Bring $500 Million to the Interview? (w/ Update)

Considering how strapped for cash the Trump campaign now is for the general election part of the cycle, I wouldn't be surprised if Trump is asking for a "franchise fee" just to even get through the door for the one-on-one chat.

After all, that's how the sports leagues do it, and we know how bad Trump wants to be a sports owner (and how terrible he is at it).

Anyhoo, the buzz is that Trump has narrowed down his Vice Presidential selection to three main choices (there may be others, naturally), although the New York Times has added a fourth name I don't hear much about: New Jersey Governor and former Primary opponent Chris Christie, former Speaker Newt Gingrich, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, and Senator Joni Ernst.

So here now are my evaluations for each pick, and why we're all still screwed:

Chris Christie: New Jersey, Governor

Pros: Has governing experience. Retains high profile within the Republican party and some popularity among the ranks. Has his fans among the Far Right media establishment. Can debate well. Can fund-raise well, having ties to Wall Street and corporations that would otherwise not do business with Trump.
Cons: Is still undergoing a criminal investigation into Bridgegate, which will make the campaign an easy target for accusations of corruption and incompetence (even from fellow Republicans). Actual performance for the state especially the economy has been... terrible. His public profile depicts him as having been turned from a big bully into Trump's lackey, with reports of him sent out to get cheeseburgers for his boss once. Is not that popular with the general electorate (being a jerkass to teachers can do that to a reputation), and not popular enough to flip New Jersey for the Electoral College. On a minor note, he does not diversify the ticket in any way, especially for geography: tradition is that the VP has to come from another region of the country to balance things, and New Jersey is too close to New York. Granted, that's an unwritten rule and has been broken once or twice before (Clinton/Gore the most recent), but it will stick out.
Odds: He's likely the fall-back option in case the others say no.

Newt Gingrich: Georgia, former US Speaker of the House.
Pros: Has the political experience with nearly two decades in the House and at least four years as Speaker. Is considered a party Establishment figure. Far Right media treats him as a "wonk" expert on issues, which counters Trump's lack at everything. Takes care of geography, coming from the Deep South and from a state (Georgia) that could become a toss-up if Trump keeps declining in the polls. Is a noted Clinton rival from the 1990s. Has been a vocal defender for Trump during the Primaries, so he's brown-nosed well for this (and unlike other party leaders, he actually wants this).
Cons: For all his experience and position within party ranks, is still viewed as a liability and a troublemaker. Does not play well with others. Was back-stabbed and left to rot by his own House allies when he faltered at his Speakership job in 1998. Last campaign attempt - in 2012 for the Presidency - flamed out. Best-known for having gone after Bill Clinton for extramarital affairs in the Oval Office... while committing the same sin on his second wife (with the woman that would become his third wife) at the same time. And what he did to his first wife was worse. Had been caught and fined for ethics violations while serving as Speaker. Essentially a bigger hypocrite than philandering Trump. While Gingrich may prevent Georgia from flipping, there is no guarantee he can secure the rest of the Southern toss-up states like Florida and North Carolina. Does nothing to repair relations with minorities or women voters. Oh, and he writes really bad alternate-history novels.
Odds: Newt is - hilariously - the glamour pick among the finalists simply because of his constant media profile. But Newt highlights all of the sins that Trump possesses - Ego bordering on Id, adulterous behavior, scandalous habits, insulting comments towards others - with none of the strengths needed to make the ticket acceptable to general election voters. Considering Trump doesn't care about all that, Newt may have a solid shot at getting this.

Mike Pence: Indiana, Governor
Pros: Has the governing experience. Well-known among Republicans as a Social Conservative who defends "religious freedom". Comes from a Midwest region that the media always portrays as "small town Americana" and takes care of the geographic balance. Simply doesn't have the baggage that Christie or Gingrich carry.
Cons: If he is known at the national level, it's for pushing an anti-gay law that pretty much forced businesses to discriminate. The fallout from that law hurt his popularity at home and led to serious push-back from a lot of angry business owners. While his "religious freedom" stance plays well with the Far Right, it will not win over general election voters. Overall record as governor hasn't been flashy, and economic performance of the state has been minimal under his watch. Brings little to the ticket except a lack of unethical behavior.
Odds: Pence is considered the "safe" pick, if by "safe" you mean "pandering to the extremist moralists who don't respect 60 percent of Christians who ARE pro-gay". Has none of the national presence that Newt and Christie have... and yet none of the sins. I just don't see him as fitting Trump's environment all that well.

Joni Ernst: Iowa, Senator
Pros: Freshwoman Senator from the heartland (Iowa). Wildly popular with the Republican base. Social Conservative. Comparatively youthful (mid-40s) who can project as a future Presidential candidate herself. Although elected to office, still presents herself as an "Outsider" that would fit Trump's Anti-Establishment message. Served in the military during the Second Gulf War, which counters Trump's background as a draft-dodger of Vietnam. Female candidate for the Veep spot to counter Hillary's "woman card".
Cons: Comes from the Steve King Wingnut faction of Iowa. Her fights against Planned Parenthood and social services will not win over women voters, which hurts Trump more with a voting bloc already despising him. Putting her on the ticket does not guarantee Iowa will flip to Red (it voted Blue for Obama in 2008 and 2012) nor will it flip many other Dem-leaning states in that region. Does not have enough elective experience to balance out Trump's entire lack of experience.
Odds: There's a solid possibility here that Trump will like her for the optics - war vet, motorcyclist, anti-government rhetoric, eager to shill the outrage - but there's more risk with her as a still-unknown player on the national stage. If I had to grade her chances, it's right behind Newt and just ahead of Pence.

So that's how I'd scale it:
1) Newt (50 percent)
2) Ernst (30 percent)
3) Pence (15 percent)
4) Christie (5 percent)

And if the Veep pick comes out with, say, Rick "No Ethics" Scott, let's just break out the schadenfreude and shout all "Let 'Em Crash."

And why are we all still screwed? Because Trump is still at the top of the ticket, and the Republicans are campaigning on a bad tax-cut, no-immigrants, no-social-aid, bomb-em-all platform despite how vaguely they try to word it.

We should get a decision soon. The convention's two weeks away.

(Update 7/10/16): We're still about a week away and the timer's ticking down... and for what we know Ernst and Pence have dropped hints neither of them will accept. Right now the buzz is that Trump is liking one of his foreign policy advisors, retired Gen. Michael Flynn. It's not that unusual a pick - military officers have run for the Presidency after all, and there's been a handful of campaigns that made the Veep pick a military guy - but Trump is going for someone who does not counter his own lack of elective experience. The biggest reason Flynn is on Trump's short list is the retired general's insistence that jihadist radical Islam is the biggest threat to the United States, fitting Trump's world-view. The scary thing about this is Flynn seems more confrontational about this as a scary neocon "always at war" mindset. There's also no evidence Flynn would be effective enough on the stump or versed in other domestic and economic issues to impress the general electorate.


dinthebeast said...

What about David Petraeus, he's not going to jail...

-Doug in Oakland

Paul Wartenberg said...

Did Trump mention him specifically? He's been rambling all day, I have no idea what he's saying anymore.

dinthebeast said...

I just read that Pence can't run for governor if he runs for veep, so if he takes the bait and gets picked, maybe one less Republican governor in the deal? He doesn't seem like someone who could get along with Trump, but I might be wrong about that.

-Doug in Oakland

Paul said...

Interesting that Pence would have to drop one for the other... which now drops him from the Veep list, because he has a better shot winning the governorship - even with his bad numbers - than running with Trump.

I just heard today Ernst removed herself from consideration as well. As did Corker from TN. It's noticeable the ones who think they still have political futures are running away from Trump right now. All he will have left to choose from are the desperate ones like Newt or Palin or Christie.

dinthebeast said...

Now it's looking like Newt. What a creep that man is, and he really seems to want it, which is sort of looking like the main deciding factor at this point. Maybe he can sell some more of Callista's Ellis the Elephant books on the campaign trail...

-Doug in Oakland

dinthebeast said...

What makes Flynn weird is that although a fierce critic of Obama, he's a Democrat, meaning he would either have to switch parties or be the first Democrat in history to run on a Republican ticket. Which seems strange to me, but if he keeps up his loud criticism of Obama, perhaps his Democratic status won't piss off the base too much. I mean we let Joe Lieberman on the ticket back in 2000, but things were different back then.

-Doug in Oakland

Pinku-Sensei said...

"The first Democrat in history to run on a Republican ticket" -- that honor might go to Andrew Johnson, who was Lincoln's Vice President and then succeeded him as President upon Lincoln's assassination. Technically, he and Lincoln ran as a National Union ticket, not a Republican one, but he was still a Democratic serving under a Republican.

Paul said...

Well, technically Tyler was never a Whig, so...