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Part 3: Is There A Conservative Dark Horse On Trump’s VP Short List?

Last week I explained to CHQ readers how I think Donald Trump and the concept of “creative disruption” are changing all the old rules of politics and especially the considerations formerly used to choose the Republican nominee for Vice President. 

With the old rules out the window, a conservative dark horse could emerge as Trump’s choice for Vice President. So I asked CHQ readers to vote for their favorite potential GOP VP nominee or to suggest a Jim Jordanconservative alternative. 

Yesterday I reviewed the bottom of the poll results, and even though the list included some very good names, I concluded that none of those individuals (talented as they are) was likely to be our conservative dark horse VP nominee. 

However, the winnowing process that left some good candidates at the bottom of the list also told us something about the kind of candidate conservatives are looking for, as does the middle of the list. 

The middle of the list all have solid cultural conservative credentials and, with the exception of Governor Perry, have solid conservative records in Congress: Former Texas Governor Rick Perry, Rep. Jim Jordan (OH-4), South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (TN-7.)  

While Governor Perry, as the longest-presiding Governor of Texas, might credibly claim some knowledge of how to get things done in Congress—given the size and influence of the Texas delegation, he might also credibly claim significant ability to help Donald Trump sell his agenda in DC—it seems unlikely that Trump would deviate that far from his stated goal of choosing a VP “who knows Washington and is able to deal with the Congress.” 

Governor Perry also has a solid record on most of the conservative agenda, but his record on trade and relations with Mexico are well outside the bounds of Trump’s views.  

Perry’s advocacy of the Trans-Texas Corridor and other government trade promotion programs probably make him anathema to Trump purists. However, Perry’s stewardship of the Texas economy made it the best place in America to start or run a business, and Texas led the nation in job creation while he was Governor. 

Plus, Governor Perry was one of the first targets of Trump’s personal attacks. There’s no indication that there is any personal warmth or relationship that might otherwise cause Donald Trump to choose a governor with no DC experience as his VP. 

Next from the middle of the list I would have to eliminate Rep. Marsha Blackburn (TN-7). 

Rep. Blackburn has been a fierce advocate of the right-to-life and has consistently scored above 90% on the American Conservative Union ratings. She’s often been the go-to conservative when the GOP House leadership needed an articulate and effective spokesperson for the conservative agenda. 

Back when the debate over who should succeed John Boehner was in full swing, Blackburn’s name was regularly floated as a possibility for Speaker. ACU Executive Director Daniel Schneider said that out of the names that have been thrown out there for Speaker of the House, he thought Rep. Marsha Blackburn had the highest score by the ACU. 

But when you begin to dissect Rep. Blackburn’s record a little more finely, two things immediately stand out: one is that she is no “outsider,” and the second is that she is almost 180 degrees the opposite of Trump on trade, the economy and international relations. 

As a woman, Rep. Blackburn could help Trump communicate with a demographic where he is perceived to have a problem. In terms of closing the deal with cultural conservatives, she is good—her long voting record and statements on trade probably leave her outweighed by other prospects. 

The next candidate I would eliminate from consideration is Senator Tim Scott from South Carolina and, frankly, for many of the same reasons I eliminated Rep. Blackburn. 

Senator Tim Scott became a conservative icon when he, as a conservative Republican, was elected as the first African-American Senator from the South since Reconstruction. 

Senator Scott has a great personal story of overcoming adversity to become a successful entrepreneur and Republican politician. 

When Senator Scott ran for the House in 2010, he ran as an outsider Tea Party movement type candidate, and his voting record has been solidly conservative.  

But Scott has proven himself to be largely an “establishment conservative” in the sense that, unlike Jim DeMint, the man he replaced in the Senate, he has not been a “boat rocker.” 

And, when the South Carolina Republican primary was running white-hot, Tim Scott’s establishment tendencies came through pretty loud and clear when he endorsed fellow establishment Republican Senator Marco Rubio over both Donald Trump and principled limited government constitutional conservative Ted Cruz. 

Scott was also a strong advocate of the Senate’s Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill despised by Trump’s supporters. At the end of the day the question about whether or not Tim Scott is likely to be Trump’s VP would have to come down to whether or not Trump sees some value added to the ticket in Sen. Scott’s personal story of overcoming adversity to become the first African-American elected to the Senate from the Old South. 

So far, Donald Trump has not given any indication that he is inclined to give much consideration to the old rules of geographic, ethnic and ideological balance, leading me to believe that Senator Tim Scott, attractive as he may be, is an unlikely candidate for vice president on the Trump ticket. 

The final candidate from the middle of the pack on our GOP VP poll Rep. Jim Jordan (OH-4), former chairman of the House Republican Study Committee when it was the voice of conservatives in the House Republican Conference, and a founder and chairman of the House Freedom Caucus that conservatives organized when the RSC suffered a hostile takeover at the hands of the House establishment Republican leadership. 

Jim Jordan has been a consistent conservative voice on policy and cultural issues and has not been afraid to rock the boat, even when the Speaker of the House was John Boehner, a powerful figure in Jordan’s home state Ohio politics. 

While Jordan may not be a household name on national TV, he is very highly regarded by many leaders of the conservative movement and grassroots Republican voters in Ohio. 

And most importantly, Jordan fits Trump’s profile: Someone who knows Washington and is able to deal with the Congress. 

What’s more, Jim Jordan has a solid record in line with Trump’s views on trade, international relations, jobs, and the economy. Jordan also has experience on two key House committees: Judiciary and Government Reform and Oversight. He chairs the subcommittee on Health Care, Benefits, and Administrative Rules. This would make him an invaluable resource if Trump actually plans to make good on his promise to get rid of Obamacare and “repeal and replace [it] with something terrific.” 

When we review the GOP VP prospects from the middle of the poll field, Jim Jordan certainly stands out as a consistent conservative who lends credibility with movement conservatives to the Trump coalition, one who adds to Trump’s brand in the must-win state of Ohio, and who has the legislative experience necessary to help Trump sell his program on Capitol Hill. 

But there is one other criterion that Trump had for his choice of VP that leads us to wonder whether Jim Jordan can make the cut, and that is “…and could be viewed as somebody who could be president." 

Jim Jordan, for all his political experience is a youthful 52-years old and has served his entire career in the House and Ohio state legislative politics. While Jordan would hardly be the youngest person ever to be Vice President, compared to some of the others whose names are out there, a junior House member may not meet the test of “…and could be viewed as somebody who could be president." 

It does, however, bring us closer to drawing a profile of who and what conservative voters want in a GOP VP candidate—an outsider, a boat rocker, a consistent cultural and policy conservative, and one who lines up with Trump on trade, jobs, and the economy. Conservative voters want someone who could actually help influence Trump in a key policy area—health care—and sell Trump’s legislative ideas on Capitol Hill. If Jim Jordan doesn’t entirely fit the profile, perhaps he points us in the direction of the candidate or candidates who do.


Tomorrow: The top vote getters in our GOP VP poll and Part 4 of “Is There A Conservative Dark Horse On Trump’s VP Short List?”

Click here for Part I. Does Trump’s VP Short List Include A Conservative Dark Horse? (Part I)

Click here for Part 2. Is There A Conservative Dark Horse On Trump’s VP Short List?

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Trump VP`

Richard,

Jim Jordan looks great. Another conservative would be Michele Bachmann. What do you think of her? She agrees with all of Trump's policy proposals, and what's more, she's a woman. Thus she would help him with that demographic. Moreover, she is a great speaker, a great debater, very classy in appearance, with an engaging personality. Voters like her. Eight previous years in Congress gives her the experience to shephard Trump legislation through. She would make an anti-American dog like Hillary look so shabby. Could she serve as President if needed? Well, Harry Truman got thrust into the job and rose to the occasion. I think Bachmann would do so also, as would Jordan. Both Jordan and Bachmann would be great "conservative VPs," but the edge goes to Bachmann because she is a woman.

Best regards,
Nelson Hultberg, Director
Americans for a Free Republic
Dallas, TX 75380
www.afr.org

Darkhorse

My list of darkhorses would not include folks that come to mind, since that is for some the epitome of dark horse.

For a real darkhorse that would shake up the beltway go with:

David Clark, sheriff of Milwaukee, an old school democrat and a black. Tough on criminals, well-spoken, extremely impressive pro-America sheriff in a swing state.

Herman Cain, a true independent in the mold of Donald Trump, an excellent speaker, and also a black.

Elaine Choi, the first oriental, female VP candidate in history, and intricately connected inside the beltway.

Liz Cheney, the first female republican VP candidate with access to more info on DC than anyone in America, through her father.