Veepstakes 2016: John’s Predictions

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John O. Sullivan

“A woman has two sons, one goes out to sea the the other becomes the Vice President of the United States.  Neither are ever heard from again.” -Vice President Thomas Marshall

With the Republican and Democratic Conventions coming up, much is being made about the 2016 “Veepstakes.” Both candidates, with unfavorable ratings approaching the stratosphere, will be looking for a number two that can make up for some of their own shortfalls and help to round out their Party’s ticket. Since some of our other more research-heavy articles are taking a tad longer to edit then we anticipated (way to go Tom) and we would like to keep our promise of an article a week,  the staff here thought it would be fun to take a stab at predicting the Vice Presidential candidates for the two major parties.  Since we are super-nerds we have also included our “dream candidate.” A pick who, while maybe not being the most practical, instills us with a warm and fuzzy feeling. So without further ado, our picks!

Trump – Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN)

First I have a confession, my first instinct here was Sen. Chuck Grassley. Donald Trump has said he wants someone with inside the beltway experience, a six-term senator would fit that bill nicely. He also has been used, intentionally or not, as a human shield for Trump, including his defense of Trump’s attacks on judges. As if you needed more, as the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee he also has become the face of the “No Supreme Court Justice before the election” movement (we’ll leave my regard for that movement for another post), and for bonus points, Sen. Grassley no friend of journalists (see: ‘are journalists too elite?’ tweet), just like Mr. Trump. Unfortunately, he is currently running for re-election to the Senate and is unlikely to accept the gig, because it’s not exactly easy running for one federal public office. Running for two is near impossible.

My second instinct was Sen. Bob Corker, but he publicly recused himself from selection last week.

Let’s go ahead and disregard Chris Christie and Ben Carson as VP options. Donald Trump has expressed repeatedly his desire for a “political insider” as his Vice President to grease the brakes on his agenda, and neither of you fit the bill. Gov. Christie, you’d be a fantastic choice for Attorney General and you should hold out hope for that. Dr. Carson, I have my suspicions, looking at the GOP’s upcoming platform, that you’ll be named Surgeon/Theologian General in the event of a Trump victory, so you have nothing to worry about.

That left me with Gov. Mike Pence, of Indiana, for Vice President. He does have previous experience inside the Capitol building, check. Including leadership experience as Chair of the Republican Caucus, check. He’s willingly campaigned alongside Trump, check. He isn’t wildly popular in his state, but he’s still a Republican with a literal heartbeat, check. Further, adding a prominent Indiana voice could help Trump throughout the Midwest, where he under performed dramatically, generally scoring under 40% and a handful of losses throughout the Midwest Republican primaries. Essentially, Trump needs Pence to deliver moderates and the Midwest, not Indiana specifically. Lack of popularity at home should be no barrier.  

There’s one catch: Indiana law would prevent Pence from being on the ballot for two offices in November, and he’s currently up for re-election to the Governor’s mansion. Normally this would be a minor barrier at best, but the law also says a replacement must be named by the 15th of July, this Friday. However, NBC is reporting that Trump’s announcement for VP will come late this week. I find that too great a coincidence to ignore. I am predicting that Mike Pence will be named Donald Trump’s running mate for presidency in 2016.

“Not the best, not the worst. Just what we’re stuck with.” -Toby Ziegler

Clinton – Sen. Al Franken (D-MN)

Call me crazy, but hear me out first. Al Franken started out as a joke. He was a wildly liberal “Hollywood type” who it seemed, was all style and no substance. He has very much proved those expectations wrong.

Yes, he is liberal. He isn’t as much a Lion of the Left as Sens. Sanders or Warren, but he still falls far to the left of most Americans. However, in this election cycle, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing for Secretary Clinton. Sen. Sanders pulled Secretary Clinton to the left on a number of issues during the Democratic primary campaign which ended yesterday, and I’m sure it was far from the primary Secretary Clinton dreamed of. He was able to do that in amassing an incredible host of young voters and liberal voters with his unique message. Secretary Clinton could use a liberal bone to throw to these Sanderistas. Sen. Franken is a powerful voice for consumer data privacy and in support of labor, which could help a Clinton ticket immensely. However, his biggest asset to a Clinton campaign is his personality.  He is incredibly personable and funny, and if it’s just an act, it’s a convincing one. I once interned in the U.S. Senate, and I had the pleasure several times of witnessing a recurring event he does. Once a week, his office puts out a fresh coffee and breakfast items, and he essentially holds court with citizens, hill staffers, and his peers. He tells some jokes, talks with some people, then goes about his business. People love the event because he is completely genuine, and I think he is just the antidote to the accusations of flatness and roboticism that Clinton faces. Anti-Clinton rebellion among young and/or liberal members of the democratic party could well be staunched by a Franken VP tap. He’ll need time for the nation to reacquaint itself with him, but many young liberals will be mollified by him, especially considering that Sen. Sanders and Sen. Warren may not be available to be (nominally) the second most powerful person in the free world.

“The real problem in the Democratic Party these days is morale, right? … a seltzer bottle-squirting partisan. The happy warrior. The guy who puts the fun back in Democratic politics.” -Josh Lyman

Dream Picks:

Trump – Condoleezza Rice

What are the top complaints against Donald Trump? That he’s racist, sexist, an ignorant neophyte, totally clueless on foreign policy, and has bad hair.

Enter Condoleezza Rice. African American Woman, former Provost of Stanford, former National Security Advisor and Secretary of State. Long-time political operative. For bonus points, she’s associated with the W. Bush era, which somehow in the last years has become glorified in the memories of conservatives, and she’s very hawkish on defense and nation building, which should appeal to the Trump crowd. She is, frankly, a counter to every major criticism of Trump and would be a perfect pick for him. Until a few months ago, she was the most traveled SecState, ever. Not that he would, but Trump could full well pass on any international duties to her and focus on domestic matters. Sadly, she will never make any Trump VP shortlist and I doubt she would accept if she was offered. Wouldn’t she be perfect, though?

Clinton – Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ)

If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably enough of a nerd to have seen the 2005 documentary Street Fight, which chronicled Cory Booker’s (ultimately failed) 2002 bid for Mayor of Newark. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend you go view it as soon as humanly possible.

Now-Senator Booker is a rising star in the democratic party, on his way to becoming a powerful player in the Senate. Plus, he’s young, exciting, and not White, all things Secretary Clinton isn’t. However, there’s one big problem. I don’t think he’ll take the gig. The New Jersey governorship will be available in 2018, and with Gov. Christie’s rock-bottom approval numbers, it is ripe for the taking by a grassroots Democrat with a fresh message. It’s easy to see a career path where Sen. Booker returns to New Jersey to take the governorship in order to springboard his own eventual presidential bid rather than become VP, which could well dead-end his political career. Ultimately, he’s only 47 and we haven’t even come close to hearing the last of him, one way or another.

Honorable Mention: Sen. Bernard “Bernie” Sanders (I-VT)

Sen. Sanders. Bernie. The Sandman. Sure Sen. Franken has a good chance at co-opting the Sanders movement, but if you really want your supporters to feel the Bern, why not go straight to the source?

Though he endorsed her, I doubt Sen. Sanders would ever accept Secretary Clinton’s nomination to the Vice Presidency, and I doubt she’d offer it. They just spent too much time bashing away at each other in the primary for there to be that close of a partnership so quickly. Sen. Sanders would be in line for a chairmanship on the Senate Budget committee or perhaps the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee in a Democratic Senate, and I think he realizes he’ll have more influence and ability to pursue his policy objectives as the defacto leader of America’s liberal wing in the Senate than as VP.



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