Now that Donald Trump is coming off a big win in New York, he’s one step closer to becoming the Republican nominee. It’s time for Trump and his team to be thinking about a possible running mate. So whose name will be on that bumper sticker?
Maybe the better question is who gets along well enough with him to survive working together for the next four or eight years. In this presidential campaign, a whopping 78 percent of Americans found the Republican contenders to be rude, according to a recent Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll. And not surprisingly, Donald Trump has led the way, bestowing his rivals with unflattering monikers such as Lyin’ Ted and Little Marco. He’s called opponents “low-energy,” made suggestions such as “just go home,” and asked,“who would vote for that face?”
So is this just rhetoric on his part? There’s no doubt it garners him attention -- and it certainly makes for good press. But has he burned his bridges with some of his fellow Republicans? Well, time will tell.
Who, then, are some of the possible running mates that Trump might choose to complete his ticket? A lot of names have been tossed around by pundits and press. Some are serious contenders while others are, well, laughable. We know that his daughter, Ivanka, and media mogul Oprah Winfrey are both out. And no matter what anyone is reporting, it’s hard to imagine Trump and Ted Cruz lasting four minutes in the same room, let alone four years.
So who does that leave? Well, let’s start with the characteristics that Trump might be looking for -- or needing -- in a running mate. As often and as loudly as Trump has blasted the “establishment” candidates, that’s just the type of ticket-mate that Trump should be looking for. Americans may love Trump for telling it like it is and thinking outside the box, but even his staunchest supporters may feel good knowing that he is surrounded by a staff that’s politically savvy.
"I do want somebody that's political, because I want to get lots of great legislation we all want passed," Trump announced at a February rally. “The most important thing is you have to have somebody who would be a great president, but after that you want somebody who can help you with legislation, getting it through, etc. etc. etc.”
Another characteristic that might serve Trump well in the general election – and beyond -- is the voice of reason. Someone more moderate than he is. Possibly even a candidate with the dreaded “low energy” trait!
While Trump has made it clear that he definitely will be the man in charge, a running mate with experience --someone that can be a trusted and serve as a valued adviser -- might be the perfect choice. A vice president with those characteristics would be an indispensable asset both on the campaign trial – and in the White House.
Aside from that, Trump has remained relatively noncommittal about who’s on his V.P. short list. So who might be in the running?
Former rivals that might be convinced to join the Trump team
Chris Christie – This New Jersey governor has the requisite political experience. His early endorsement of Trump has led to speculation that he’s hoping for a Trump cabinet post – or V.P. slot.
Ben Carson – Another former rival and fellow non-establishment candidate who’s since endorsed the Trump campaign. Ben Carson is known for his laid-back and polite demeanor.
Marco Rubio – His experience as a Florida senator would serve him well, and it doesn’t hurt that his parents emigrated from Cuba, but can he get over Trump’s constant name-calling and derogatory comments?
John Kasich – He may have only won one state so far (his home state of Ohio), but Kasich is considered by many to be the most presidential and politically correct candidate, refusing to get down in the mud with his opponents. Trump could benefit from this alliance, but Kasich has said there is “zero chance” of him becoming anyone’s V.P.
V.P. possibilities with legitimate credentials
Sarah Palin – One of the first well-known Republicans to come out in support of Trump, the former governor of Alaska has experience as a running mate. She ran with Governor John McCain in 2012. But are she and Trump too much alike?
Rob Portman – Who? This under-the-radar Ohio state senator has admitted he’d be interested in running with (one of) the Big Boys -- and GOP leaders do like him.
Nikki Haley – This North Carolina governor is well-respected among her peers. And the fact that she’s an Indian-American woman might help Trump with a couple of his weaker demographics. But is her former endorsement of Marco Rubio telling?
Dark horses and wild cards
Everyone has their own ideas and preferences but here a couple names that have been thrown around in connection with the Trump campaign.
Mark Cuban -- Dallas Maverick’s owner and Shark Tank billionaire entrepreneur, Cuban’s downside may be voting for Obama the last time around. On the other hand, Trump is relatively new to the Republican Party himself.
Howard Stern – Friend and Trump supporter, he has the name recognition, if not the experience.
Jesse Ventura – The former professional wrestler and dark horse Minnesota governor from 1999 -2003, Ventura is another anti-establishment politician.
At this point, there are a number of possibilities in the running-mate mix. And Trump has certainly been known to surprise us in the past, so why should his choice of V.P. be any different?
But to add one more twist to an already crazy presidential race, consider this. If Trump doesn’t have the 1,237 delegates needed to secure the Republican nomination on the first ballot at the GOP Convention, delegates can choose to vote for someone else the second time around. And what if another candidate with delegate support has chosen a more experienced, respected or just plain likeable running mate? That candidate could actually win the GOP nomination based on their choice of running mate.
Is that likely? Maybe not -- but it’s been a wild ride so far. Better buckle up!