Donald Trump is vetting several people for the vice presidency, which means two things:
- Trump’s campaign has developed some kind of criteria for the position, which means that they believe, on some level, that there are disqualifying factors that make someone poorly suited to work in the executive office.
- There are people who actually want to serve as No. 2 on a Trump ticket.
For the following six people, a pledge to ban Muslims from entering the United States, a spectacular lack of understanding about the basic limits and obligations of the presidency, and a habit of retweeting white supremacists made them say, “I would like to attach my name to this person's political legacy.”
Let’s get to know them.
Who?: Former Speaker of the House, failed presidential candidate.
Pros: Gingrich, a former congressman from Georgia, is regarded among many Republicans as a party intellectual and political historian, which may make some people more comfortable with Trump’s general lack of knowledge about the basic responsibilities of the presidency. Gingrich is also thirsty for a job very few people seem to want.
Cons: Gingrich has a lot of political baggage that won’t really help Trump expand his base of support beyond white conservatives. Like that one time he said that women shouldn’t be in combat positions because they might get monthly “infections”—which I believe is old man speak for periods—or how he once proposed cutting welfare benefits for single mothers and instead using those funds to establish orphanages.
He was also famously owned by Joan Didion, a brutal fate I would not wish on my worst enemies. (Just kidding I definitely wish this for my enemies.) She finished off a 1995 essay on Gingrich's bizarre futurism by examining a weird tangent in his book "To Renew America" and then, well, impaling him on it:
Who?: Governor of New Jersey, failed presidential candidate.
Pros: As the governor of New Jersey, Christie has the kind of governing experience that Trump, as a private businessman who has previously struggled to grasp the basic scope of the presidency, lacks. And as a Republican running a blue state, Christie also has, or at least the 2012 version of him had, the mythic post-partisan crossover appeal that is supposed to win elections and grow the Republican Party.
Cons: The idea that Christie has crossover appeal is hard to square with the fact that Christie doesn’t have, you know, appeal. He is deeply unpopular in his own state, with 72% of New Jersey residents saying that Trump should look elsewhere for his vice presidential pick. Two of Christie’s former aides will also be on trial in September for their role in closing access lanes to the George Washington Bridge in an act of political revenge. And then there’s that whole thing where Christie looks a lot like he’s being held hostage when he’s in Trump’s presence.
Who?: Oklahoma’s first female governor.
Pros: Fallin isn’t just a governor—she’s a woman governor, which may not do much to persuade the 70% of women who have an unfavorable view of Donald Trump to like him any better, but will enable him to say “but my vice presidential candidate is a woman” when someone points to one of the many sexist incidents in his record. Fallin can also boost Trump’s anti-abortion bonafides, and draw on her own record to teach Trump not to say that women should be punished for having abortions while helping him design policies that punish women.
Cons: Fallin, to the extent that she has a national profile, is perhaps best known for the brutal botched execution that her administration sanctioned.
Who?: Governor of Indiana.
Pros: Pence is the kind of social conservative who may help convince Republican voters who are skeptical of Trump’s record of occasionally being passively tolerant of LGBTQ rights. Pence gained national notoriety in 2015 after he signed a bill that allowed private businesses to decline services to LGBTQ people. He is also a strongly anti-abortion candidate, which, again, is a position some conservatives really want to see reflected on a Trump ticket.
Cons: If Trump even minimally wants to give the impression that he cares about protecting the rights and legal protections of LGBTQ people, Pence is a bad choice. Indiana women are also currently sending Pence recurring updates about their periods to protest his support of abortion restrictions in the state. ("Let's make our bodies Mike's business for real, if this is how he wants it," says a group called Periods for Pence.) And we know how Trump feels about blood coming out of women’s wherevers.
Who?: The junior senator from Alabama.
Pros: Sessions was the first senator to endorse Trump, and Trump rewards loyalty. (This is also why Trump seems to only employ his children—who, without question, have been with him since birth.) He is also a conservative from a Deep Red State, which brings Donald Trump’s cosmopolitan fancy boi levels down by at least 7%. At least.
Cons: Trump says racist things pretty routinely, and Sessions has an equally stained record on race and civil rights. In 1986, Sessions was rejected by the Senate Judiciary Committee for a federal bench seat. One member of the committee called him, as the Guardian reported in 2009, a man of “marginal qualifications who lacks judicial temperament… A nominee who is hostile, hostile to civil rights organizations and their causes." And like, does that sound like anyone else you know?
Who? Retired Army lieutenant general, former Defense Intelligence Agency director.
Pros: Flynn, who has advised Trump during the campaign, has the resume to make Trump seem more credible when he talks about security and foreign policy, topics about which he knows very little. Flynn is also a vocal critic of Hillary Clinton, making him a good fit for an attack dog-style vice presidential candidate.
Cons: Flynn has expressed support for abortion rights ("Abortion, I think it's a thing for women… they are the ones that have to make the decision," he said this weekend), something that no Republican vice presidential candidate has done in more than three decades.