Trump’s VP List?

It is all over but the shouting in the race for the GOP presidential nomination, so it is reasonable for attention to turn to Donald Trump’s choice of a running mate. As Trump himself has pointed out, vice presidential picks generally have little or no impact on presidential races. Still, given the advanced age of the prospective nominees, voters might pay a little more attention than usual to their choices for successors in the event of their demise.

On the Laura Ingraham show on Monday, Trump responded to a suggested “short list” of VP choices. To be fair, it was Laura’s list (or Laura’s audience’s list), not Trump’s. But Trump responded favorably, confirming that the persons named are on his list and that they are “all solid.” So it doesn’t hurt to consider the names Laura threw out:

* Vivek Ramaswamy. Vivek survived well into the presidential nomination process. He is a smart guy and has a good following among young people. But his behavior during the nomination process was so erratic that I don’t think he is ready for prime time. He also has zero experience as an office-holder; we learned in 2017 how much that can set back a would-be president.

* Ron DeSantis. DeSantis would make an excellent president, but he is better off as Governor of Florida than he would be as Trump’s vice president. I don’t think he would take the job.

* Tim Scott. I believe Scott is well regarded in Washington, but I was unimpressed by his presidential campaign. He ran almost exclusively as a values candidate and had little to say about policy. As a values candidate, he and Trump would make an odd couple.

* Byron Donalds. Donalds has made a splash as a Congressman, but I haven’t seen enough of him in action to form much of an opinion. I do know he has ambitions on the national stage; I say this because I get at least one email from him every day. But Donalds can’t be a serious candidate to be Trump’s vice president: under the 12th Amendment, Florida electors wouldn’t be able to vote for both Trump and Donalds, as both are now Florida residents.

* Tulsi Gabbard. I spent a little time with Gabbard when she was American Experiment’s Fall Briefing speaker a year and a half ago. I found her highly impressive. She is a serious person, among other things pro-military while being anti-military adventurism. She continues to serve as an officer in the US Army Reserves. She is very smart; a vice presidential debate between Tulsi and Kamala Harris, of which we got a brief preview in 2020, would be high entertainment. Gabbard has left the Democratic Party, and I don’t know where she stands on what formerly were the decisive issues, e.g. taxes. But she is a voice of common sense and is conservative where it counts, for example as a strong advocate for free speech. I think she would be a fine VP choice.

* Kristi Noem. Noem has done a tremendous job as governor of South Dakota. Her record on covid, unlike Trump’s, is unimpeachable. She is a superb retail politician, which of course doesn’t go as far on the national stage as it does in a small state like South Dakota. Noem is a Trump loyalist and has been widely rumored to be at or near the top of his list. But I am not sure whether she would come across as having the stature that one looks for on the national ticket.

Who is missing from that list? Tom Cotton, maybe. Cotton is one guy who has the depth of knowledge and strength of character to be a real influence on Trump, keeping him focused and on track, and countering Trump’s less sensible impulses. But whether he wants the job, I have no idea.

In sum, now that speculation on the GOP’s presidential choice is at an end, we may as well speculate about the Veep.

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