Trump’s vice presidential show and Kennedy’s kamikaze mission

US President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden participate in the first presidential debate, moderated by Fox News host Chris Wallace
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Trump’s vice presidential show and Kennedy’s kamikaze mission

Election 2024

Mark Z. Barabak

April 4, 2024

Today we discuss evil, lesser evil, secular sanctity, and the vice presidential selection process.

Now that we know the major party nominees, who will be Donald Trump’s running mate?

I have no clue. And probably not Trump either.

Does anyone dare to give it a try?


We go through this ritual every four years, amid all kinds of rumors and speculation about who will or will not appear in the vice-presidential ballot.


. The one constant is that those who know about it, for the most part, don’t speak publicly. And those who speak publicly are not in the know.

That said, Trump being Trump, things may be slightly different this time.

How come?

The unfiltered ex-president has a habit of thinking out loud and seems quite eager to ponder different prospects in public, weighing their qualities and, to an unusual degree, involving voters in his deliberations.

When he’s not in court, fighting criminal prosecution.

Well well. We’re here to talk about Trump’s vice presidential pick.


Trump loves suspense and thrives on pseudo-drama, so you can bet the vetting process will involve plenty of public auditions, i.e. bowing and scraping and running Trump commentary through

He makes

his selection


likely close to the start of the Republican National Convention on July 15.

How about throwing out a few names?

If you insist.

I do.

Well, some that have surfaced include Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Tim Scott of South Carolina and JD Vance of Ohio; Gov. Doug Burgum of North Dakota and Kristi Noem of South Dakota


and Representative Elise Stefanik of New York.

And that’s just a partial list.

Who has the inside edge?

No idea.

Normally a presidential candidate looks for some kind of balance: ideological, geographical, demographic.

For example, the governor of Massachusetts made a decision in 1988. Michael


Dukakis chose Lloyd Bentsen,

a US senator



to be his running mate.

Four years ago, Joe Biden

an old resident of Delaware,

chose California Senator Kamala Harris, who

is something

not just younger decades

than him



also a black one and an Asian one

American woman, appealing to several key Democratic constituencies.

In 2016, Trump selected Indiana’s governor. Mike Pence, a favorite of the religious


in an effort to strengthen his position among Christian evangelicals, who have since become some of his most loyal devotees.

So don’t count on Trump-Pence II?

I would not do it.

Because Trump seemed okay with the January 6 mob lynching his vice president?

Well, that wasn’t the most sporting way to treat a nominal partner.

But the relationship between Trump and Pence went irrevocably wrong even before the vice president came under siege when he refused to join Trump’s effort to overturn Joe Biden’s election.

In a notable break, Pence then challenged his old boss for the 2024 Republican nomination and, after becoming quite embarrassed, said he “cannot in good conscience” endorse Trump’s current bid for the White House.

So where does that leave the selection process?

Your guess is as good as mine.

With 100% name recognition, Trump does not need a running mate who can vouch for him in certain parts of the country.

the selection

in 1960



Senator Lyndon


It is believed that Johnson gave John F. Kennedy of New England a boost in the South.

Trump has shown almost no interest in growing support beyond his staunchly loyal base, so balancing the ticket with someone seen as more moderate could be another convention


throws out the window.

I can not help it. I am totally disappointed with our choices for president.

You are hardly alone. Polls consistently show a broad lack of enthusiasm about a Biden-Trump


which many equate to a choice between torture on the rack or being pulled



Okay, that’s a bit dramatic.


But you get the point. At 81 years old, Biden is the oldest president in history. Trump, who turns 78 in June, was one of the most flawed.

Suffice to say, many people will be holding their noses as they cast their votes, and presumably filling out their ballots with their other hand.

That’s for sure.

But I’d hazard a guess, even if two politically saintly figures were running the Democratic party


Kennedy, for example, and Republican Ronald Reagan, by November there would be plenty of people worrying about choosing between the lesser evils.

The only perfect candidates live in voters’ imaginations, or as fictional characters in movies, TV shows and books.

Speaking of Kennedy…

I assume you are referring to the independent candidacy of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the late president’s nephew.

What are his chances of winning the White House?

I would say slim

until and

none other than slim was last seen paddling as far and as fast as he could away from the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port


. (Much of Kennedy’s family strongly opposes his bid and supports Biden’s reelection.)

So I would dare to say that there is absolutely no chance.

Because you are captivated by the two-party duopoly?





For starters, Kennedy will have to work hard to qualify for election in enough states to even theoretically have a chance of winning.



the history of third-party presidential candidates is one of inevitable failures.

The most successful, former President Theodore Roosevelt, received 27% of the vote and 88 electoral votes in 1912 as a Progressive or Bull Moose candidate.


arty, when he ran against Republican incumbent William Howard Taft and Democrat Woodrow Wilson. That left Roosevelt still far shy of regaining the White House, which Wilson won.

For the most part, third-party candidates have played the role of spoiler, gaining just enough support to move the race away from one of the two major players.

party candidates. And that looks like the kamikaze role that Kennedy could play in November, falling prey to defeat and taking Biden or Trump with him.

Who wins and who loses when Kennedy is on the run?

That is unclear. His platform, a collection of liberal and conservative views mixed with a mess of conspiracy-laden soup, is not easy to categorize.

He could appeal to both disaffected Democrats and Republicans.




Is it likely to end up in the White House with Biden or Trump after November?

There is nothing certain in life, nor in politics.

But I wouldn’t bet a dime on any other outcome.


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