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Saxman: VeepStakes – Marco Rubio to Ben Carson. It’s a Long List and a Longer Campaign.

As Ward Bond says to open The Quiet Man, let’s begin at the beginning.

It’s a long campaign that few are enjoying. One way to make this bearable will be the constant content created by the Trump VeepStakes.

Several key elements to consider in late March.

  1. It’s late March. There is no reason to pick a VP candidate now. Letting the speculation build is a healthy distraction and keeps a LOT of potential picks fighting for cable news and social media time selling Donald Trump over Joe Biden. #TeamBuilding101
  2. The needs of Donald Trump are no longer winning the nomination. Obviously. The nomination victory is nothing short of an amazing comeback story even though it’s not being told that way. Give credit where it’s due. (h/t to HOF inductees Chris LaCivita and Susie Wiles) This is about winning the general. Period. But you know that.
  3. Trump needs to focus on unifying the Republican base. That’s job #1. Reminder – 30% of the primary voters voted Not Trump. He needs to get them ALL back or find registered, low propensity voters to offset the losses. By keeping a wide field of options available, it opens the door for folks to (however reluctantly) support Trump. [Floating names creates a narrative of normalcy. “Oh look, he’s considering <insert normal relatively bland Republican> maybe he is becoming normal. Maybe I should reconsider Trump because Biden is awful.” So on and so forth…
  4. The Top Needs for Trump at the end of the day will be Money and Votes. The VP candidate who can bring more of that to the ticket without showing disloyalty to Trump or his agenda, will be in the best position.


Remembering Casey Kasem: Regional Hero, National Treasure | Billboard [1]

On with the countdown….

14 – Marco Rubio – US Senator of Florida cracks the first countdown with the recent stories of Rubio being on THE short list; [2] however, while he is probably being talked about we should understand that this “being talked about” by “sources close to the Trump campaign” is likely more of a campaign tactic than an actual hint that Rubio is on THE short list. It’s great free and earned media. The problem with Rubio, Ron DeSantis and Byron Donalds is Article II Section I and Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution which reads:

The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves

Nonetheless, Rubio was mentioned this week and here he is.

13 – Ron DeSantis Governor of Florida. There is no DeSantis Wing of the GOP and while he raised a TON of money, Trump will see him as a constant threat within the White House; however, the most egregious sin was running against Trump. Can’t see those strikes helping his appeal. Besides, he doesn’t seem to want it as DeSantis is keeping a low profile these days.

12 – Marsh Blackburn US Senator from Tennessee. While I just don’t see the appeal beyond the current Trump base as she brings no money or votes, Blackburn is a loyalist. Credible source insists she is being considered and is even on The Short List. But she doesn’t answer the obvious question, “Why?”

11 – Greg Abbott Governor of Texas. Keeps the immigration issue on the front burner. Since Trump really doesn’t need Abbott to do that, he’s likely not to move up. If Biden and VP Kamala Harris (D-Border Czar) manage to improve the border, look for Abbott to move up. But being wheelchair bound is not a visual Trump will want.

10 – Nikki Haley former UN Ambassador and Governor of South Carolina. Highly unlikely that she would be selected but keeping her name in the mix helps bring back gettable Trump voters. Look, there is no Haley Wing of the GOP either. She was the alternative to Trump who outlasted Ron DeSantis. #2028

8 – Tim Scott US Senator from South Carolina. Nice guy and happy warrior is a little off brand for Trump and this cycle. He will pick a loyal fighter who appeals first to the base and then other demographic groups. Scott’s appeal is limited. He just doesn’t bring enough to the table in terms of votes or money. Would be a solid cabinet pick. The VP has to be part prosecutor and like Sen. Tim Kaine in 2016, that role just doesn’t line up well with this Tim either.

7 – Vivek Ramaswamy – entrepreneur and author. Super talented and a rising star in the new GOP, Vivek would be a huge distraction as VP. While he appeals to many voters, does he actually bring out more of them to the polls? It doesn’t seem that way. Besides, he always seems to be trying too hard to be liked vs. actually getting things done. Probably better served if he won an election and served in office first given his age and energy.

6 – J.D. Vance U.S. Senator from Ohio – recent Politico piece entitled Is There Something More Radical than MAGA? J.D. Vance Is Dreaming It. In a candid series of conversations, Vance revealed an ominous philosophy behind his first year in office. [3] A rising star among the New Right (whatever that is), Vance would be a Trump loyalist but does he bring more votes and money? Doesn’t look that way. He’ll be kept in the conversation to keep the New Right engaged, but in the end – as of today – he’s not the guy.

5 – Glenn Youngkin – Governor of Virginia. Hear me out on this one before you hit reply – Youngkin would have broad appeal in the critical suburban battlegrounds come voting. Great at retail politics and has shown inordinate discipline with respect to Trump. Youngkin has several financial advantages – a) he puts Virginia in play and Dems will have to spend a LOT here to win the Electoral Votes b) he helps GOP Senate candidates spend down Tim Kaine’s money and c) he will dramatically increase larger donor money that is currently swearing off Trump. On the vote front, Youngkin’s messaging on abortion mitigated even more losses for the GOP state races in 2023. Lastly, LaCivita knows what a formidable candidate Youngkin was in 2021 having run a candidate against him. Youngkin has a real future and LaCivita knows his value. In sum, votes – money – map.

Final Four

This is THE short list if my long time source from Team Trump is accurate and that source ALWAYS has been spot on.

4 – Byron Donalds – Congressman Florida Popular with the base and probably appeals to more young black men, Donalds is a frequent guest on cable news and is an ardent defender of Trump.

3 – Nancy Mace – Congresswoman South Carolina – Less popular with the base, but an attractive candidate from a previously toss up congressional district. Mace is also less popular with her colleagues, but has shifted her politics to the Trump zeitgeist and is clearly in good position.

2 – Elise Stefanik – Congresswoman New York Talented politician who has also adapted to the new Republican Party. She is a strong voice inside the party and became famous for her grilling of the college presidents – all of whom are female. She’s a pit bull and would be a strong addition to the ticket with possible appeals to the top four vote buckets needed to counter the Democrats.

Those buckets are college educated males, non college educated females, minorities, and voters aged 18-29.

and #1 is….

Ben Carson - Wikipedia [4]

1 – Ben Carson – former HUD Secretary and famous brain surgeon Carson checks so many boxes for Trump. Loyal – minority – well liked but not too much so by the base – at 73 on Election Day won’t be see as the front runner in 2028 – has a compelling story and can be effective on the abortion question. But can he raise money or attract the big donors? Can he bring more votes than the others? As a native of Michigan, does that help with the state?


In other news:

The Associated Press Trump suggests he’d support a national ban on abortions around 15 weeks of pregnancy [5]

  • Polling has consistently shown that most Americans believe abortion should be legal through the initial stages of pregnancy. About half of U.S. adults said abortions should be permitted at the 15-week mark, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll conducted last June.

Sounds like Youngkin’s position on abortion, right?

The Washington Post Youngkin and Lucas still at odds on arena and Virginia budget after talks [6]

  • RICHMOND — Prospects for a professional basketball and hockey arena in Alexandria seemed dimmer than ever Tuesday after Gov. Glenn Youngkin spoke with top budget officials from the House of Delegatesand Senate, with the governor and lawmakers so far apart that some worry the entire state budget could be headed for a meltdown.
  • Youngkin (R) met by videoconference with Sen. L. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth), chairwoman of the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee, and Del. Luke E. Torian (D-Prince William), head of House Appropriations, a little more than a week after the Virginia General Assembly wrapped up its regular legislative session without approving the governor’s tax cuts or his plans for a $2 billion arena.