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Trump's VP Choices: An Early Look

We will freely admit that this item is about as weighty as cotton candy. First, there is a very long time between now and next year's Republican National Convention (July 15-18), when the #2 person on the GOP ticket will be anointed. Second, as we have pointed out many times, the choice of running mate rarely makes a difference, unless the pick is really, really good (Lyndon B. Johnson) or really, really bad (Sarah Palin).

That said, tracking the VP horse race is fun, and with Congress on recess and Joe Biden in Europe, there's only so much news. So, as it looks more and more like Donald Trump will be your 2024 Republican presidential nominee, The Washington Post's Aaron Blake decided to run down the current list of potential running mates, as he sees it. We thought we'd pass along the list, an executive summary of his remarks, and our thoughts on each potential candidate. Note that Blake organized them by type, and did not attempt to rank them. Here's the list:

1. "Gov." Kari Lake (R-AZ)
Blake's Take: She may be the Trumpiest politician in the land.
Our Thoughts: The former president likes running mates who are seen but not heard. Lake is too much a risk to steal some of the oh-so-precious spotlight from The Donald.

2. Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R-AR)
Blake's Take: She's veered hard-right since becoming governor, and she has already shown an ability to tote Trump's water.
Our Thoughts: She seems plausible to us, since she knows well how to avoid stepping on Trump's toes.

3. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA)
Blake's Take: She will say whatever Trump wants her to say, no matter how nutty.
Our Thoughts: Greene would bring very little to the ticket, and would probably do more harm than good, since she's now too "establishment" for the real nutters.

4. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
Blake's Take: She loves fighting the culture wars.
Our Thoughts: That would seem to make her a running mate for Ron DeSantis, and not so much Trump.

5. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO)
Blake's Take: He says he doesn't want the job, but he aches to be the MAGA candidate in 2028.
Our Thoughts: There's no way Trump lets another alpha male on the ticket.

6. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC)
Blake's Take: He's Trumpy without being TOO Trumpy.
Our Thoughts: Trump doesn't want someone who has held him at arm's length, he wants a rabid follower. Also, Trump has South Carolina in the bag and isn't going to get any meaningful number of Black votes. As we've written many times, Trump-Scott '24 simply makes no sense to us.

7. Elise Stefanik
Blake's Take: A good bridge to the Party establishment, and a staunch Trumper who nonetheless knows how to defer to the former president.
Our Thoughts: When Trump learns about the grift we outline above, we think that alone will disqualify her.

8. Nikki Haley
Blake's Take: She was once popular, and she's got foreign policy chops.
Our Thoughts: Trump cares nothing about foreign policy chops, and he cares a great deal about people who dared criticize him in the past.

9. Gov. Kim Reynolds (R-IA)
Blake's Take: She'd help with Iowa.
Our Thoughts: Trump doesn't need help with Iowa, and he's been taking potshots at Reynolds all week because she hasn't endorsed him. We think Reynolds is... improbable, to say the least.

10. Gov. Kristi L. Noem (R-SD)
Blake's Take: She's Trumpy, but not especially well known.
Our Thoughts: Noem has certainly been angling for the #2 slot, but she has the same problem Lake does, and with considerably less name recognition or fanaticism.

11. Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL)
Blake's Take: If they can resolve their differences and Trump is willing to change his residency back to New York, they might both be convinced Trump-DeSantis would be a powerhouse ticket.
Our Thoughts: Stranger things have happened, we suppose, but a Trump-DeSantis ticket would have more ego and more acrimony than any ticket this side of JFK-LBJ.

12. Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-VA)
Blake's Take: He's skillful at navigating the Trump/NeverTrump divide.
Our Thoughts: Again, we don't think Trump wants someone whose actions suggest that Trumpism is sometimes a less-than-perfect path.

13. Mayor Francis Suarez (R-Miami)
Blake's Take: Kellyanne Conway likes him.
Our Thoughts: Suarez also raises the residency problem. Oh, and there's the "nobody knows who he is" problem and the "he often says dumb things" problem.

14. Tulsi Gabbard
Blake's Take: She's popular with the Fox crowd, but has a limited résumé.
Our Thoughts: We can actually see Trump going in this direction, on the theory that Gabbard would bring some Democratic votes to the ticket. We don't agree with that theory, but we can see him thinking that.

15. Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL)
Blake's Take: He's Black, he's young, he's Trumpy.
Our Thoughts: He's also unknown and he's yet another Florida resident.

16. Tucker Carlson
Blake's Take: He used to have a lot of buzz around him.
Our Thoughts: Seriously? There is no way this happens. Trump is more likely to pick Michelle Obama as his running mate.

17. Vivek Ramaswamy
Blake's Take: Maybe!
Our Thoughts: Maybe not!

18. Michael Flynn
Blake's Take: Anything's possible!
Our Thoughts: Flynn certainly is more plausible than Carlson or DeSantis.

19. Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Blake's Take: He's Trumpy and yet also Democratic.
Our Thoughts: We can see this happening, on the same basic logic as Tulsi Gabbard. That said, Gabbard and Trump are more closely aligned, in terms of politics, than Kennedy and Trump are.

20. Donald Trump Jr.
Blake's Take: N/A. Although Blake was grasping at straws for the latter part of the list, he somehow stopped at 19, and didn't make it a nice, round 20. So, we'll make it a nice, round 20 for him.
Our Thoughts: Trump Jr. is guaranteed to be uber-Trumpy and is guaranteed to always be in dad's shadow. Plus, if the ticket is elected, he already knows where the White House cocaine closet is.

That's the field, at least at the moment. That said, recall that at this point in the cycle in 2019-20, Michael Avenatti seemed like a potential presidential candidate. So again, take any list that is this premature with many, many grains of salt. (Z)

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