Wednesday, July 13, 2016

July 13, 2016--Trump's VEEP

Even after the FBI director essentially indicted Hillary Clinton, according to yesterday's NBC tracking poll, she still leads Donald Trump by three percentage points. Though this is within the margin of effort, Clinton remains in the lead. And a lead is a lead.

With the GOP convention only five days away, to overtake Clinton, Trump needs to do at least three things--

The convention itself needs to be engaging, even entertaining since so much of what got Trump here in the first place was, how else to put it, amusing. Even his frequent but unpredictable gaffs.

Then he has to deliver a vice presidential candidate who is relatively uncontroversial--which should rule out Chris Christie (Bridgegate) and Newt Gingrich (forced to resign the House speakership). Trump needs a VEEP who has gravitas, knows the world, and could credibly step into the presidency if Trump is in one way or the other unable to serve.

Third, equally important, he has to stop being a jerk.

This latter requirement will likely prove to be most difficult because just by not inviting Clint Eastwood to speak to a stool will assure he has a better convention than Mitt Romney. And almost any VP candidate, compared to Trump, will add seriousness to the ticket.

But a jerk he will likely still continue to be.

In regard to his vice president, without Christie and Gingrich, the consensus seems to be swinging toward Mike Pence, the governor of Indiana.

He has the right kind of congressional and gubernatorial experience to fill in some of those gaps for Trump, but he is unknown and so boooooring.

This has some advantages considering that Trump now might benefit politically by being a bit more boring--to demonstrate that he is not devoid of gravitas--but Pence would not bring any sizzle to the ticket. And some sizzle, some energy could be useful as Trump's act begins to feel stale.

With Jack at the Bristol Diner, like us a liberal, we discussed Trump's VEEP conundrum, made much more challenging because of his alienating so many senior Republicans. To the point that every day one or another announces he or she will not attend the convention or vote for him.

Of course, with the GOP and Trump's base having the Bushes stand him up and hint they will not be voting for him, this alone to many on the right is encouragement enough to firm up their decision to vote for him.

But this election, like most, will be determined by the five-to-10 percent who are truly independent and undecided. What Trump VEEP would appeal to them?

"Easy," I said, "Condi Rice." Feeling proud of myself for this long-shot prediction, I looked from Jack to Rona.

"She'd never agree to it," Jack said, "The Bushes would never talk to her again."

"The Bushes are finished," Rona said. "Who cares if they won't talk with her?"

"Doesn't she feel any loyalty to them?" Jack said.

"Look, she thought seriously about running for the GOP nomination in 2008 and Jeb had his eye on that. There's loyalist and then there's ambition."

"What does that mean?" I wondered, thinking further about what Jack had said.

"She's only 61," Rona pressed on, "Prime time for anyone who wants to be president. At the moment she's on the faculty of Stanford and on a few corporate boards and after being George W. Bush's National Security Council advisor and then his Secretary of State, life must feel boring to her."

"She could help continue to fight the wars that Bush and his team started."

"She's actually less hawkish than Hillary," I said.

"And if she agreed to do this for the party," Jack said, getting into the possibility, "it would help line up support for her for 2020 if they lose or for that matter if they win and Trump gets bored after one term and decides not to run for reelection."

"Of course," Rona said, "there are the obvious demographics she would bring to the ticket."

"Another thing that would appeal to Trump is that she's a football fanatic and loves golf."

"She's one of only two female members of the Augusta National course. She might even be able to sneak Trump in for a round or two. For certain he's not a member. They wouldn't have him even if he somehow managed to become president."

"I like it," Jack said, "I don't mean I like it enough to vote for them, but from an excitement, gravitas and political junky perspective, it would be a home run."

"And satisfy Trump's and the public's desire to shake things up," I said, rising to my own idea, "To do the unexpected since the same-old-same-old isn't getting the job done."

"Maybe it's making things worse," Rona said.

"I still think it's a long shot. But it's fun to speculate."

"It could prove to be an interesting week."

"He'll probably go for Pence," Rona said, sounding glum.

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