The veepstakes! The veepstakes! Is it too soon to talk about the blasted veepstakes?
Where American politics is concerned, it’s never too early to talk about any subject, and that goes double this year when there are so many variables and uncertainties involved in the figuring. Yes, it’s true that our country has an incumbent president who swears he’s running for reelection, but it’s far from a foregone conclusion that senile president Joe Biden will actually go through with it.
And even if Biden were to do it, there still would be much discussion over mounting another “veepstakes” in the Democrat party next year, since current vice president (Kamala Harris) is a complete disaster, one who Democrats don’t even want to ponder ascending to the presidency. The only reason liberals are hoping broken-down old goat Biden launches another campaign is they can’t stomach the possibility of Harris being deemed his replacement in a primary.
On the Republican side, there’s similar chatter about an “incumbent” running for the nomination, though it’s clear former president Donald Trump won’t be alone in his quest for the honor. Whereas Democrats are fairly united in backing Biden for another go ‘round, Republicans are torn over anointing Trump the de facto winner without the hoopla -- or making a dramatic switch to send the party in the same direction, but with a different figurehead in the lead.
As of now, it looks to be a grudge match between Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, the much younger politician doing little to squelch the rumors of his looming candidacy. Therefore, with the GOP top slot all-but determined in many folks’ minds, pundits are turning to the veepstakes for entertainment value. So no, it’s not too early to talk about it.
“The shadow campaign to become former President Donald Trump's 2024 running mate if he wins the nomination is taking shape, though multiple sources say there is no clear front-runner.
“Trump has signaled he will ditch his previous No. 2, former Vice President Mike Pence… More than a dozen Trump campaign veterans and former administration officials believe the former president will likely select a woman to join him on the ticket in an effort to win back the female voters he hemorrhaged to President Joe Biden in 2020.
“Sources say potential candidates must display one defining characteristic, an unflinching loyalty to the former president, and most of the MAGA figures who spoke to the Washington Examiner agree that four women in particular are on Trump's short list: Gov. Kristi Noem (R-SD), Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R-AR), and former Arizona journalist Kari Lake.”
Not surprisingly, Nikki Haley’s name didn’t make the group. Prior to last week, the former Trump U.N. ambassador’s name had always made the short list of potential female Trump running mates, though now that the ambitious South Carolina pol went back on her promise not to run if the former president did… she’s history.
Which could benefit the Republican Party in the long run if Trump does end up the nominee, since Nikki would’ve been the perfect backstabber-in-waiting if the ticket moved on to the presidency. There never were fears of sabotage when Mike Pence was Trump’s right-hand man, but Haley? I’d have food tasters at the ready if she was seen anywhere near the presidential kitchen after Inauguration Day. What a horrible choice she would’ve been.
But now Nikki’s not a problem. Praise be.
Of course, the big test remaining is to see whether Trump will even be selecting a running mate sometime next year. It used to be, when it came to looking ahead to the approaching presidential election, political observers tried making themselves sound intelligent by saying things like, “This is a change election”, or “The country is upset that the economy is underperforming and they’re losing ground with their personal finances,” blah, blah, blah.
Such pronouncements contained an ounce of truth, though these days, with the nation so incredibly politically divided, every election is a “change election”. And this was so even with an incumbent in the 2020 race, because Donald Trump represented such a marked departure from the old ways that returning him to the Oval Office certainly would’ve represented a “change” from the pre-Trump status quo.
If anything, by electing Joe Biden three years ago, the nation “changed” back to the swamp. Now there’s more slime and toothy creatures swimming around in DC than ever.
After two-plus years of Joe Biden, anyone with common sense sees the United States would’ve been much better off with a Trump second term. Trump’s policies would’ve staved off the disaster at the border, kept energy production (and future prospects for drilling) humming and likely stayed out of the Ukraine quagmire, because Vladimir Putin wouldn’t have seen an opportunity for an invasion with a strong America acting as a deterrent.
Further, coming out of the COVID mess, the Trump administration wouldn’t have called for a $1.9 trillion “stimulus bill” that passed early in Biden’s term. Productive people would’ve returned to work much quicker and the ongoing nonsense over the “public health crisis” would’ve ended long ago. America would have become “normal” again in an expedited fashion and perhaps the rampant inflation we’ve endured would’ve been reduced or eliminated.
Meanwhile, the Trump Justice Department wouldn’t have been so preoccupied with pursuing J6ers, mostly because there wouldn’t have been any to catch. The big protest wouldn’t have taken place and the Trump people could’ve used a mandate earned from exposure of the corrupt deep state to initiate the enormous task of cleaning house.
Political speech would’ve been protected. America would be America again.
Plus, here’s thinking a Trump second term would’ve focused on reducing the size of government, shoring up the military and doing the necessary things to ensure America would remain prosperous well into this century. Trump campaigned on “Keep America Great” and wouldn’t have allowed Congress to run roughshod on traditional American mores and values like it did under Biden.
2024 wouldn’t have been a “change” election in that sense. But it is now, more than ever.
The four former Trump advisers in Datoc’s report all indicated it’s much too early to seriously consider who Trump would pick – and added that he might not even make it past the primary. It’s hard to tell whether they were serious, but there’s little doubt Trump will have a tough time sustaining whatever momentum he has for another fourteen or fifteen months (until the primaries have all-but determined a winner).
Similarly, narrowing down the potentials to the four women in Datoc’s piece is a bit presumptuous at this point, but even if DeSantis – or some other contender – were to win the nomination, some of these lady pols would be on the vetting list of the one who does get through.
Prior to Datoc’s article, I hadn’t heard much about Sarah Sanders being a possible GOP veep choice, but it does make sense. Sanders is a well-known and mostly highly regarded face on the Republican side of Washington. She’s intelligent, well-spoken, unquestionably loyal to the party, and after having served as governor of Arkansas for a spell, should be viewed as qualified to step in. At the very least, put her on the radar watch list.
Kristi Noem is also an attractive possibility for Trump – or DeSantis. It’s still not clear whether she’ll run for the top spot, but as of now, Kristi seems better suited for veep consideration. She has the requisite experience and a generally solid conservative record (outside of the transgender girls’ sports veto controversy) and is also widely recognized by Republicans with an opinion. Keep Noem in the hopper for future possibilities as well.
In contrast, both Elise Stefanik and Kari Lake should be longshots in the veepstakes. Stefanik is in the GOP House leadership and has done a reasonable job, but isn’t well known out of political circles and there would be major questions about her lack of executive experience. Kari Lake is a conservative take-no-prisoners firebrand and unabashed flame-thrower, and she was cheated out of winning in Arizona last November, but how could she move straight from former TV news anchor to the seat of power for the whole country?
When compared to Huckabee-Sanders or Kristi Noem, neither Stefanik nor Lake pass muster.
While it’s not too soon to think about who Donald Trump – or the eventual Republican winner – should choose for a running mate, there’s a long way to go for conservatives to figure out what they want from the next nominee. 2024 is most definitely a “change” election for America; we can’t afford to get either slot wrong.
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