Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump indicated Wednesday that he is preparing in earnest for the general election — which includes balancing his ticket with a running mate who has legislative chops.
“I probably will go the political route,” the billionaire businessman told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “ . . . Somebody that can help me get things passed, and somebody that’s been friends with the senators and the congressmen.”
The task could be complicated by the question of which blue-chip Republicans want to serve under Trump and whether choosing an political insider would dilute his anti-establishment credentials, experts said.
Prospective vice presidential candidates for Trump include former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin.
Meanwhile, Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, a former U.S. secretary of state and U.S. senator for New York, isn’t lacking in government experience, but she might tailor her vice presidential choice to win over voters who have rallied behind rival Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), experts said.
“Her best strategy might be to go after party unity. It’s pretty divided, so she may need to pick someone from the Sanders wing,” said Christopher Devine, a Mount Vernon Nazarene University professor who co-authored a book on running mates.
Progressive politicians who meet that criteria include Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), but St. Louis University School of Law professor Joel Goldstein said the Clinton campaign may shy away from removing Democrats from the Senate in states run by GOP governors. Another name being floated is U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro.
Still, with much of the party establishment behind her, Clinton essentially has her pick of running mates. Trump may not.
“Your selection is limited by the pool of people who are willing to run with you,” said Goldstein, a scholar on the vice presidency.
The precedent for political outsiders choosing insiders as running mates includes Dwight Eisenhower, who was supreme commander of the Allied Forces before his presidency, picking Richard Nixon, who was a U.S. senator and congressman.
“You risk jeopardizing the brand that Trump has established as the maverick candidate, but he needs to have somebody who can guide him through implementing the policies he has pitched without specifics,” said Darryl Paulson, an emeritus professor of government at the University of South Florida-St. Petersburg.
A running mate won’t necessarily draw a substantial increase in support because voters look to the top of the ticket, but they must not hurt the campaign, Goldstein said.
For example, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin detracted from the presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), he said.
“Carrying a state, appealing to a demographic, those things can be important,” Goldstein said, “but they’re important after first picking somebody who voters can view as presidential and who doesn’t have any baggage that you can’t carry.”