Trump will announce his choice Friday
He has offered numerous qualifications for his veep pick
Donald Trump’s madcap scramble to pick a running mate has drawn frequent comparisons to the competition on his old reality show, “The Apprentice.”
But after a visit to Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s home state this week, including a family visit to the Governor’s Residence, the 2016 GOP veepstakes is beginning to look a whole lot more like “The Bachelor” – with Trump dangling one final rose.
The question now, as the show sprints to its denouement Friday when Trump will announce the winner, is what exactly the presumptive nominee really wants in his vice president? Trump has presented a varied and sometimes contradictory set of qualifications, creating confusion and drama in equal parts.
Among the qualifications:
1. You are an attack dog
The message was clear. In a Tuesday interview with the Wall Street Journal, Trump declared he was looking for a running mate “skilled in hand-to-hand combat” to take on Hillary Clinton and her allies.
“I’m getting attacked from all sides,” he said, suggesting the need for a more naturally aggressive campaign collaborator.
Good news there for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, pugnacious political actors that Trump deemed “extraordinary warriors.”
2. Wait, you are not an attack dog
But by Wednesday night, the job description had changed.
“I’m not looking for an attack dog,” Trump told Fox News. “Frankly, I’m looking for somebody that really understands what we’re talking about. I would rather have the whole thing be on policy. I’ve said that before. People think of me as an attacker. But I would rather be talking about policy.”
3. You have political experience
Finding someone to help implement that policy has often been a focus of Trump’s musings on potential running mates.
“I have the business – let’s call it talents,” Trump said on MSNBC in May, hot off his decisive victory in the Indiana primary. “And I think I’ll probably go the political route, somebody that can help me with legislation and somebody that can help me get things passed and somebody that’s been friends with the senators and the congressman and all.”
It was a position he doubled down on later the same day, telling the New York Times, “I’m more inclined to go with a political person … I have business very much covered.”
That could be good news for Pence, who Trump is said to be leaning toward.
As far as “military and military strategy,” Trump continued, “I think I’ll be absolutely great.”
4. Wait, maybe you are not a pol, but a general in the U.S. military
A little more than two months later, during a July 6 interview with Fox News, Trump injected a new name – and potential qualification – into the mix.
“I like the generals. I like the concept of the generals,” he said. “We’re thinking about – actually there are two of them that are under consideration.”
Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn has reportedly been vetted for the job, though his stock has sunk after an uneven entry onto the national stage.
“I have five people, including (Flynn),” Trump told the Washington Post on Monday, summing up his conundrum like an eager restaurant-goer smitten with multiple menu items: “I do like the military, but I do very much like the political.”
5. You ran against him
Trump has offered mostly kind words to his vanquished GOP primary foes.
He was especially gracious the day after he dusted Ted Cruz and John Kasich in Indiana.
Twenty-four hours after suggesting the Texas senator’s father was in some way involved in the Kennedy assassination, Trump offered his “respect” and called Cruz “a very strong competitor.” Kasich’s departure a little later was also met with personal praise.
On May 5, Trump went a step further, saying on CNBC that there was “a good 40% chance” his eventual running mate would come from the ranks of his former opponents.
6. You are willing to say ‘Yes’
A number of potential choices have quickly shot down the rumors – crossing their own names off the list.
Condoleezza Rice, the secretary of state under former President George W. Bush, had a brief chat with Trump last weekend, but the conversation will likely end there.
Republican Sens. Marco Rubio, Bob Corker, Rob Portman, and Joni Ernst have all said they weren’t interested in the job.
Same for Kasich and retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who told CNN this week he would “decline consideration for any role” in the campaign.
7. You are Oprah
When he flirted with a Reform Party presidential bid in 1999 and 2000, Trump during an interview with Larry King declared his affection for Oprah Winfrey.
“I love Oprah,” he said. “Oprah would always be my first choice.”
More than 16 years later, the bloom is still on the rose.
“I’d love to have Oprah (as a running mate),” Trump told ABC News in June. “I think we’d win easily, actually.”