As Republicans head toward the possibility of a contested convention, a lot of people are looking back to the Reagan-Ford struggle ahead of the Kansas City convention that year, where the nomination hung in the balance right up to the week before the convention. Marc Thiessen recounts some of this drama in his Washington Post column yesterday.
But there’s one gambit from that year that people have forgotten to mention. In a desperate move, Reagan announced his running mate a week before the convention: Pennsylvania Senator Richard Schweiker. Reagan hoped to peel off some uncommitted or weakly committed Pennsylvania delegates. It didn’t work.
But I wonder if it might work this year. Cruz has shown himself the better tactician so far, and I can easily imagine him naming his choice as a running mate—probably someone that would generate some excitement like South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (who has very strong poll numbers in her state right now) or perhaps Carly Fiorina—and challenge Trump to name his running mate ahead of the convention. I’m guessing Trump’s running mate selection process is as haphazard and chaotic as the rest of his campaign, and a running mate challenge might well introduce a new level of uncertainty among delegates, and a fresh opportunity for Trump to make a mistake, like an ill-considered attack on Cruz’s running mate choice, or an impetuous choice for running mate like Ben Carson.
Yesterday Trump mused about both Scott Walker and Marco Rubio as potential running mates, both of whom will beg off, but this raises a question: who would want to kill their future political chances by agreeing to being Trump’s running mate? (The one obvious possible exception: John Kasich.)