Is it too soon to start speculating about Donald Trump’s VP pick?
Maybe, but speculation has nonetheless begun, and with Mr. Trump the clear favorite to win the Republican nomination, and perhaps only a week away from making his position virtually unassailable, it is a subject worthy of contemplation.
So, who might it be? And would The Donald have his pick of the field, or would it be more a question of his scratching around to find anyone willing to stand with him?
"He said at a rally yesterday he wants to pick a 'political person,'" says Geoffrey Skelley, political analyst at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, in a telephone interview with The Christian Science Monitor. “But I don’t know how many sitting politicians would actually run with him. If he loses, you might find yourself out in the cold as far as the Republican party is concerned.”
The Republican establishment has woken up to the reality of Trump’s candidacy only recently, and they view it as something of a disaster, desperately hunting for an establishment candidate capable of defeating the flamboyant billionaire.
So it is that any Republican politician keen on a political future would likely be wary of throwing their hat in the ring with Trump.
This is certainly true of Rick Scott, the Florida governor whose name has lately been bandied about as a possible Trump running mate: he may run for the Senate in 2018.
Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina is someone that could really shore up support for Trump, helping to balance his own shortcomings.
“She's an Indian American woman who can help prove wrong the idea that Trump is simply the candidate of angry white men,” writes Chris Cillizza in The Washington Post. “She's in her early 40s while Trump will be 70 on election day. She endorsed Rubio in her state's primary, so picking her could put to rest the idea that Trump is vengeful and vindictive to anyone who crosses him. It almost makes too much sense....”
She has a Sikh background, she is popular in her home state, and she would undoubtedly be a good counterbalance, Mr. Skelley tells the Monitor, “but I can’t imagine her wanting to join Trump on a ticket”.
If sitting politicians are likely to be reluctant to throw their lot in with Mr. Trump, to take that “leap in the dark”, as Skelley calls it, then perhaps the Republican presidential candidate will look outside of politics for his number two.
Sarah Palin is a name that springs to mind, someone equally at odds with the establishment, controversial, outspoken. And she has already endorsed Trump, something the business mogul seemed to relish back in Iowa.
Yet if Donald Trump is seeking someone to balance his image, to appeal to sectors of the population who may not be quite so enamored by his rhetoric, then Ms. Palin may not be the wisest choice.
“Trump is smart enough to make moves to win, and picking Sarah Palin would be an absolute mistake,” says Skelley. “She doesn’t bring much gravitas as a number two pick. For a time, she was a huge star among conservatives, but then she resigned her governorship to make more money on TV, something that didn’t sit too well with the Republican Party.”
Carly Fiorina, ex-CEO and ex-presidential candidate, has been mentioned, too. She might, as Mr. Cillizza writes, “be able to blunt his [Trump’s] losses among women in a general election race against Hillary Clinton." But it seems unlikely she would qualify as the person from politics Trump seems to be looking for.
There is always the possibility that the winner of the Republican nomination buries the hatchet with one of his defeated opponents, though perhaps the most unlikely match would be with Ted Cruz.
“Ted Cruz lifts the Bible high into the air and then lies like a dog – over and over again!” tweeted Trump Tuesday.
And none of this matters, anyway, if Trump loses the Republican race. But, at this point, that seems less and less likely.
Super Tuesday (March 1st), when 10 states head to the polls and one-quarter of GOP delegates are at stake, will be key: if none of the other candidates can find a way to break through there, Trump’s victory will be all but decided.
After that, “March 15th is make or break,” says Skelley. “If he wins Florida, this race is over.”