With the Republican National Convention just over two weeks away, Donald Trump needs to start making serious moves on selecting a running mate. Reminder: Ted Cruz already has one, still. The Washington Post reports team Trump does, in fact, have a shortlist of potential political partners and that former House speaker Newt Gingrich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are at the top of it. Both are being vetted.
“The contenders under the most serious consideration, such as Gingrich and Christie, have been asked by attorney Arthur B. Culvahouse Jr. to answer more than 100 questions and to provide reams of personal and professional files that include tax records and any articles or books they have published,” according to the Post. “The presumptive Republican nominee continues to indicate that he will probably choose someone who could balance his brash populist persona with a political profile that includes deep experience in Washington or ties to the party establishment, the people familiar with the search said.”
First, Culvahouse is in charge of Trump’s veep vetting despite having the same role in the 2008 McCain campaign, which introduced the world to Sarah Palin, potentially the least sound vice presidential candidate since the founding of the republic. Apparently, he wasn’t responsible for vetting for crazy in ‘08. Second, the Trump campaign asking for financial records is ironic, since he’s refused to release his tax returns. Perhaps he’s just comparing filing technique.
Finally, Trump’s top two choices are utterly uninspired. Perhaps not by choice, getting anyone in the non-kamikaze wing of the Republican party to sign on seems a tall order. Trump is presumably going to need help raising money despite his self-appointed status as a kajillionaire, which would mean someone who donors don’t hate would be a welcome bonus. Also, a running mate that speaks the language of actual, traditional Republicans would probably be a good idea, too. Some idea of how laws are made, preferably on Capitol Hill, encouraged. If you add all of that armchair conventional wisdom up, it seems hard to imagine Chris Christie getting shortlisted is anything other than a hat tip for the early endorsement and a nuclear option at the ready if the Donald decides he wants to blow the Republican party to smithereens. Gingrich ticks a number of the required boxes, but it’s hard not to see his inclusion as a vague threat to relive the late ‘90s that pitted Gingrich against the Clintons. In the end, both Christie and Gingrich have one shared attribute that makes them potential running mates—neither has much to lose at this point, and that may be enough.