Strap in, folks. It’s actually happening.
As the Republican National Convention is set to kick off next week in Cleveland, the wheels on the Trump campaign’s push for the White House have started to turn in a meaningful way. Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, (no, not that one who is accused of assault and got a job because of it) said tonight that Trump would announce his VP pick this Friday. That means the Veepstakes will be over for some lucky politician who will have his name (originally I had “his/her name”, but who are we kidding here?) forever etched into the annals of history alongside Donald Trump. Even though there has been a lingering sense of disbelief over Trump’s impending nomination for some time now, the announcement of a running mate makes things very… real.
But have no fear! Trump is going through a vigorous vetting process. And the belle to Mr. Trump’s balls must meet a few qualifications. First, Trump wants an “attack dog.” Trump actually said that he wants a “fighter skilled in hand-to-hand combat” because he’s “getting attacked from all sides.” Turns out Trump is just like the rest of us—he just wants someone to fight for him. Aww.
There are a couple other typical prerequisites that running mates must meet on presidential tickets. The most poignant one is their home state. Typically, it is common for VP picks to come from a battleground state if they’re popular there (a reason why many have Ohio’s Sherrod Brown being floated as a potential VP pick for Hillary Clinton). Another factor is executive experience. VP picks are often governors or politicians with party leadership on their résumé. But the final aspect that often goes overlooked is someone who the potential president truly wants to work with (see: Bromance, Obama and Biden). So with all these elements in mind, let’s take a look at the favorites, the underdogs, and the dream pick.
Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey
The obvious child. The Christie/Trump saga goes back to February, when Christie dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination and promptly endorsed Trump. It quickly led to one of the greatest memes in 2016, reminiscent of Gob from Arrested Development. The pair’s relationship only grew more, shall I say, complex (?) when it was reported that Christie was once sent to McDonald’s to pick up Mr. Trump’s presumably un-Happy Meal. Besides all that baggage, Christie makes a good deal of sense for Trump.
First off, Christie has proven loyal, fast food or not. He was the first major candidate to endorse Trump, and has been featured at many campaign events in varying capacities (No umbrella for you, Chris). He has plenty of executive experience as the two-term governor of New Jersey. And the fact that Christie comes from a state that consistently votes Democrat in presidential elections could be Trump trying to bridge some sort of gap. Oh, did I say something about a bridge? Yeah, that could be a negative for Christie. But maybe it shows Trump that this potential VP pick can be just as petty as him.
Governor Mike Pence of Indiana
Mike Pence. What can be said about him? Seriously. Did any of you know who he was before this election cycle? I had to do a bit of refreshing for me to remember that yes, we’ve all heard of Gov. Pence. He was a main motivating force behind the “religious freedom” bill passed in Indiana that allowed business owners to discriminate against the LGBT community in the name of their beliefs. He would later backtrack on that part of the bill. He and Trump already have so much in common!
But there’s a method to the Mike Madness. Pence is an evangelical, who helped pass one of the most restrictive abortion bills in the country in March. This sort of social conservatism is something that Trump has been lacking on the campaign, and could be an attempt at reaching the religious right. When Pence was a congressman, he tried to pass a constitutional amendment that would limit government spending, which goes in line with Trump’s fiscally conservative message. Finally, Pence has been no stranger to criticizing Hillary Clinton. At a recent Trump campaign event, Pence said electing Clinton would be “extremely careless,” paraphrasing FBI director James Comey’s speech following his dismissal of the former Secretary of State’s email controversy. Mike Pence doesn’t have any political scandals, serves as governor in a fairly consistent red state, and can go after Hillary. Makes sense to me.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich
Oh, Newt. You never seem to go away. The former Speaker hasn’t held political office since 1999, yet remains one of the most recognizable faces of the GOP. But what Gingrich lacks in recent political experience, he makes up for in gravitas. Gingrich’s name on the Trump ticket would bring a measure of legitimacy to Trump’s bid for the White House. He has plenty of executive experience, being Speaker of the House from 1995 to 1999. And it was during this time that Gingrich carved out a spot for himself on the Trump campaign.
Gingrich’s time as Speaker of the House came during the middle years of Bill Clinton’s presidency. Gingrich was the major opposing for the Clinton administration during this time. Not only did he put pressure on Clinton to fulfill his promise of welfare reform, he actually shut down the government over disagreements with Clinton’s 1996 federal budget. If Trump really wants someone who can “stick it” to the Clintons, Gingrich certainly has plenty of practice.
Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama
Sen. Sessions is really conservative. And those aren’t my words—they’re the National Journal’s, who named him the fifth-most conservative U.S. senator. In that regard, he makes sense in many of the same ways that Gov. Mike Pence does. He’s socially and fiscally conservative, and was a big supporter of the Bush administration’s legislation, including tax cuts and the Iraq War. He’s very safe. But there’s not much else to say about him.
For one, he doesn’t have any executive experience. Sessions was a U.S. Attorney, and later Attorney General of Alabama, before being elected to the Senate. He serves as the chair on the Senate “Immigration and the National Interest” subcommittee. Also, his home state of Alabama hasn’t voted for a democrat since Jimmy Carter. Sessions’s name is certainly in the mix for VP, but he doesn’t strike me as having the pizzazz that the Trump campaign has made its name on.
Okay, hear me out. I know this will never happen. But it actually makes a lot more sense than you may think. First of all, Jenner is apparently a supporter of Trump’s, congratulating him for Trump Tower’s bathroom policy (?) in the wake of North Carolina’s so-called “bathroom bill.” Second, they’re both cultural figures due to the widespread popularity of reality television. And more importantly, Jenner is one of if not the most visible member of the transgender community. Trump could use her presence on the campaign as an example of the diversity his administration would bring. Finally, they’re both total, self-involved assholes. Just watch Jenner on Ellen. The lack of self-awareness is reminiscent of someone like, well, Donald Trump. Caitlyn Jenner is my dark horse pick for Trump’s VP.