Why Trump’s running mate is less likely to be Marco Rubio than Marjorie Taylor Greene

(Mike Stewart/Associated Press)

Why Trump’s running mate is less likely to be Marco Rubio than Marjorie Taylor Greene

Opinion piece, Elections 2024

Jonah Goudberg

March 26, 2024

Now that Donald Trump is officially the presumptive Republican nominee, he is gearing up for the general election. In recent weeks he has crossed a lot off his to-do list.

He installed new leadership, including his daughter-in-law, at the Republican National Committee and negotiated a joint fundraising deal with the party. His campaign is in talks with his former campaign manager and pardon recipient Paul Manafort to head the GOP convention. And his lawyers have successfully delayed the most serious legal threats he faces, while getting nearly half a billion dollars in bail in his fraud case reduced to a more manageable $175 million.

Yes, everything is going as well as can be expected for Trump’s fourth attempt at becoming president (including his widely forgotten and short-lived 2000 attempt). The last big thing on his list: choose a running mate.

In case you haven’t heard, his former vice president, Mike Pence, is unavailable.

Choosing a running mate is a lot like buying a car. The first question is: what do you need it for? If you need to transport a bunch of kids, a minivan might be best. If you want to show off, a sports car makes more sense.

Veep choices are designed to strengthen weaknesses or enhance strengths. Trump chose Pence in 2016 because he wanted to reassure social conservatives and evangelicals. Biden chose Kamala Harris because he believed (wrongly, in my opinion) that he needed a black woman.

Sometimes the weaknesses have less to do with particular constituencies than with the perceived shortcomings of the presidential candidate. George W. Bush and Barack Obama tapped Dick Cheney and Joe Biden, respectively, to add decades of political experience to tickets led by relatively young and inexperienced nominees.

So what does Trump need in a running mate this time? Despite his claims to unify the Republican Party, he must reckon with the reality that a quarter to a third of the party supported Nikki Haley (and other alternatives) in the primaries.

One way to do that is to win back those voters. Another is to replace them with supporters who have not traditionally voted Republican, including working-class black and Latino voters. A third option: stick pieces from columns A and B together.

The question is: can a running mate help him with that? Trump is a known quantity, with 100% name identification. The idea that an aide could change voters’ opinions of him seems unlikely.

Unlike in 2016, Trump may have no reason to strengthen parts of the base with this decision. The voters Pence helped bring into Trump’s coalition are now, for the most part, completely loyal to him. Those who aren’t won’t change their minds based on a potential veep.

Hence my skepticism that electing a woman would reinforce Trump’s weaknesses with female voters. Women who don’t like Trump, or who are highly motivated by the abortion issue, are unlikely to be swayed by a female running mate.

There is also the matter of Trump’s personal preferences. He now values ​​blind loyalty and even blinder sycophancy more than electoral appeal. He is convinced that he is popular, and he wants someone to extol his greatness, not highlight his weaknesses.

Fortunately for Trump, there is no shortage of candidates who meet these criteria. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who convinced voters in 2016 not to vote for a man like Trump, now says he would be honored to be his No. 1. 2.

Electing Rubio would make a lot of political sense. He is a gifted and extremely adaptable politician who could appeal to college-educated suburbanites as well as working-class and Latino voters.

But I think Trump and his advisers understand that if he is elected, he could very easily be impeached again. In that light, choosing a conventionally reassuring politician as his constitutional understudy is risky. If removing Trump from office resulted in a President Rubio or even a President Tim Scott, many Republicans could make that bargain. So Trump does not want another Pence, a politician who, when truly tested by a constitutional crisis, sided with the Constitution.

What I think Trump wants is a Renfield for his Dracula, a mushroom completely subservient to his needs and desires. Such a creature as Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, for example, would not only campaign the way Trump wants, but would also make the price of removing him from the White House too scary to contemplate.

Greene himself may be too much of a risk to make the cuts, but I suspect he’ll be attracted to a pliable enabler who’s scary enough to thwart his presidency while not so outlandish as to win him the election cost. Nancy Mace, stay close to your phone.



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