The VP Chase – Careful What Your Wish For
Who wants to be Donald Trump’s running mate? With the list of contenders starting to look like a Black Friday crowd waiting for the doors to open at Walmart, the better question may be: Who doesn’t want a place on the Trump ticket?
Names mentioned so far include Republican Senators Tim Scott (SC), J.D. Vance (OH.), and Lindsey Graham (SC). Among the governors, former governors and one-time gubernatorial candidates are Kristi Noem (SD), Henry McMaster, (SC), Sarah Huckabee Sanders (AR), Doug Bergum (ND), and Kari Lake(AZ).
Think I’m finished? Think again. The field also includes Senators Marco Rubio, (FL), Katie Britt (AL), Tom Cotton, (AK), Masha Blackburn, (TN),and Joni Ernst, (IA.) And don’t forget Representative. Elise Stefanik, (NY), former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, (IN), former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, and one-time presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy,
By my count, the number is fifteen. By my reckoning, the one thing they have in common is their love for Trump, who has a lock on the party’s presidential nomination. One, Tim Scott, even declared, “I just love you” as he gazed at the former president during a public event. It’s hard to imagine that anyone would exceed Scott’s ass-kissing (please forgive the term) but J.D Vance gave it a try over the weekend. He said that Trump should ignore Supreme Court rulings he deems “illegitimate.”
The crowd of contenders shows, for one thing, that Trump’s hold on the GOP is complete. Having won exactly one caucus and one primary, he is already actively considering who he’ll pick for the number two spot. After Trump recently name-checked Scott and Governor Noem, Senator Scott said, "The only thing I can tell you is that the one thing we need is four more years of President Donald Trump," Scott told a reporter for the Fox News website.
As he offered his love and put Trump above himself in speaking to Fox, the groveling Scott, made himself a top contender in the eyes of the prominent former Trump advisor, Kellyanne Conway. And as Conway noted, he fits nicely into her profile for the perfect Veep, which calls for Trump to name “a person of color” as his running mate. This narrows her field down to Scott and -- surprise! -- former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley who is the last challenger standing among those who challenged Trump in the primaries.
Haley has said so many negative things about Trump – “he is his own worst enemy” – that she’s unlikely to catch up to the toadies. This leaves Scott as the last man standing in Conway’s lineup of sycophants.
Conway’s opinion matters. She helped Trump pick his 2016 running mate, then-Indiana Governor Mike Pence. It was Pence’s appeal to the Christian Right that most likely gave him a win in 2016. This time around Trump has strong backing from conservative Christians so Scott would allow him a new option – namely appealing to Black Americans who have voted for Democrats longer than I have been alive.
Oddly enough, as she leaned toward “a person of color” Conway used a liberal rationale for favoring minorities called DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion.) DEI has been a bugbear for Republicans who consider it a kind of “reverse racism” that penalizes one group. Nevertheless, person trumps policy in today’s Republican Party. Thus, on the basis of race, Scott meets the criteria for the old political saw, which calls on candidates to broaden their appeal by any means necessary.
So having made himself the leading sycophant, Scott has frontrunner status. He deserves to feel good about this. But I would caution him. As with everything he does, Trump will exploit Scott for as long as possible, keeping his choice a mystery and thereby torturing everyone who wants to be his running mate in order to make his “deliberations” an attention-getting tool. And in the end, if you do get the nod and Trump wins the White House, prepare for the role of toady-in-chief, and the butt of endless mockery, which should end your political career. Just ask Mike Pence.