Yesterday, Donald J. Trump clinched the Republican nomination by finally securing an outright majority of the party’s delegates. The question now becomes: Who will be on the ticket with him?
When discussing potential running mates for Trump, Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post explained, “no one knows. Trump relishes being unpredictable, so trying to game out how this most unconventional of politicians will make his mind up is a bit of a guessing game.”
But that hasn’t stopped people from guessing. Cillizza himself provided a short list that included three defeated primary candidates, including Marco Rubio and Chris Christie. The New York Post reports that Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is on the top of a veep shortlist. Jeff Sessions, Rick Scott, Joni Ernst, Nikki Haley, Sarah Palin and others have also all had their names thrown out there by various media outlets.
Some options are easily ruled out because there are certain people who quite frankly won’t accept an offer to be Trump’s running mate. As a POLITICO Magazine piece asked, who would want to be eclipsed by such a massive ego? But The Atlantic suggests otherwise. There is no shortage of people who would be happy to take the back seat just so long as they can potentially ride the Trump train to the White House. (Newt Gingrich is apparently almost begging to be chosen.) The Atlantic even provided a “cheat sheet” of 19 names that they believe should be considered. Amidst all this speculation, however, I believe one name has been wrongly left out. You’ll laugh, but bear with me.
I think Donald Trump should pick his daughter, Ivanka Trump, as his running mate.
Many believe that Trump’s pick for vice president will be crucial to his appeal in the general election. Some of them insist that he will need to choose an experienced politician in order to give hesitant moderates an excuse to rationalize a vote for Trump.
In my opinion, while politically experienced Republicans like Corker and Christie would certainly be important to the success of the campaign and to the effectiveness of a Trump administration, they don’t necessarily need to hold the role of vice president/running mate to do so. Trump already announced that Christie will lead his transition team if he wins in November, and Corker’s foreign policy credentials would make for a safe Secretary of State choice. Announcing administrative selections like these can serve the same purpose that announcing a politically experienced running mate would serve, leaving the role of vice president open to someone who can both continue Trump’s successful name-brand campaign while also pivoting to a more kind, calm and collected general election tone.
Ivanka Trump, as crazy as it might sound, may just make perfect sense. Trump’s base of support would not feel betrayed like they might by a more “establishment” pick, while those who believe a President Trump would be the next Hitler probably wouldn’t be convinced no matter who The Donald picks to join his ticket.
Further, choosing Ivanka might help Trump expand his appeal beyond angry, white men.
Sure, Trump’s campaign chairman, political strategist Paul Manafort, said this week that Trump is unlikely to select a woman or a minority as his running mate because that would be seen as pandering. But how could anyone accuse a man of pandering to voters by selecting his own daughter to be his running mate? Everyone knows Trump thinks highly of his daughter (albeit sometimes a bit too highly). If anything, he’d be susceptible to accusations of nepotism, but running against a former First Lady should neutralize that.
In a piece titled, “Ivanka Trump: The Quiet Power behind the Trump Throne,” POLITICO Magazine calls Ivanka, “her father’s most influential adviser, his most powerful surrogate – and his total opposite.” Ivanka Trump has proven incredibly capable on the campaign trail, leading Hugh Hewitt to refer to her as her father’s “secret weapon.” Where Donald is bombastic and unfiltered, Ivanka is composed and always on-message. (Not to mention that, Ivanka, as a recent convert to Orthodox Judaism, may also help to reverse the GOP’s failing efforts to attract Jewish voters.)
Finally, in an election as unusual as the one we’re currently in, how has a Trump/Trump ticket not garnered more speculation? There have been hints from the very start when Ivanka Trump was the one to introduce her father the day he announced his candidacy last June.
When asked in August on Fox News by Sean Hannity whom Trump counts on the most, he said Ivanka.
When asked in September during one of the primary debates what woman Trump would want put on the 10-dollar bill, he said Ivanka.
And lastly, when asked in December whom he would want to be his vice president, Trump said Ivanka. (He quickly followed with: “I’m kidding, I’m kidding. I have to say I’m kidding because the press will then go with it: ‘Trump wants to make Ivanka vice president.’ They’ll make a big deal.” But he made sure to add, “although she would be good, I will say.”)
People like to joke that Donald Trump would pick himself as vice president if he could, but picking Ivanka might just be the closest thing.
The campaign wouldn’t even need to change the signs.
Contact Ruairi Arrieta-Kenna at ruairi @stanford.edu.