Thursday June 02, 2016 – If the rumors are to be believed, Donald Trump is preparing to make one of his most controversial decisions yet.
The Republican candidate is turning his mind to his running mate – the person who would become Vice President if ‘The Donald’ wins the ultimate prize. The veteran Washington lawyer A. B. Culvahouse has been tapped up to vet potential candidates and a long-list is being drawn up.
Enter Newt Gingrich, the colorful Republican who launched a failed bid for the presidency in 2012 and is now top of the list of potential running mates.
Together, Donald and Newt would form the ‘Henry VIII ticket’. Both men are married to their third wives, forming an impressive total of six spouses between them.
The similarities don’t end there. Just like the larger than life Tudor monarch, Donald and Newt are bombastic, with big egos and a potentially king-sized problem with female voters.
Newt Gingrich once declared women shouldn’t serve on the front line because “they get infections.” He married his first wife, who was his former school geometry teacher, when he was just 19-years-old.
According to a former aide, he divorced her after saying: “She’s not young enough or pretty enough to be the wife of the President. And besides, she has cancer.”
Gingrich himself has always angrily denied the comments.
His second wife Marianne claimed he asked her for an open marriage, after cheating on her with a congressional aide nearly 23 years his junior. Gingrich – again – denied asking for an open relationship, however he did later marry the young aide Callista Bisek, who became the third Mrs Gingrich.
In 2011, he blamed his infidelities in part on his patriotism: “There’s no question at times of my life, partially driven by how passionately I felt about this country, that I worked far too hard and things happened in my life that were not appropriate.”
Newt Gingrich has already started his campaign to become VP. The two men are close, frequently chatting on the phone, and insiders say his fingerprints are all over Trump’s campaign offices. Their relationship has long been based on mutual backslapping – in 2011, Gingrich described Trump as “a true American icon” and made a pilgrimage to his New York office in an attempt to win his endorsement for the Republican candidacy.
Gingrich is also seen as a smart pick by some in the Republican party because – unlike the real estate mogul running for President – he understands how Washington works. Gingrich, a former House of Representatives Speaker, is also from Georgia and would give some geographical balance to Trump’s ticket.
But if Trump does pick Newt as his running mate, it will be the equivalent of sticking up two fingers to his critics and doubling down on his strategy.
Trump’s big vulnerability is women and Hispanic voters. It’s hard to see how picking a white man three years older than him would help that weakness. Gingrich also refuses to accept there is a sexism problem. He has previously said Trump is more “pro-woman” than Hillary Clinton, and when he ran for the Republican nomination he notched up considerably more votes from men than women.
Picking his running mate is perhaps Donald Trump’s most important campaign decision yet. Get it right and he could inch closer to the White House. Get it wrong and his dreams could come to a crashing halt.
Other names in the frame include Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, a rising star in Republican ranks. She has the perfect political back story after having spent time serving in the military and is well liked by many in the party. She’s also sufficiently bonkers to appeal to Trump, once pulling together a campaign video announcing she “grew up castrating hogs on an Iowa farm.”
Bob Corker, a senator from Tennessee, has spoken out in praise of Donald Trump and many believe he is positioning himself to give himself the best chance to be picked as his running mate. He’s well respected in Washington and is probably the choice that would make the Republican establishment most comfortable.
Chris Christie has also hitched himself to the Trump bandwagon after his own presidential bid floundered. The New Jersey governor endorsed The Donald to the bemusement of some of his political friends, and is seen as a politician who plays well with crucial swing voters.
It’s also worth noting that some people who might have been top of Donald Trump’s list might refuse to on the ticket. The Ohio governor John Kasich would be a no-brainer for a VP pick, but he has previously said he’s “not inclined” to be Trump’s running mate.
Choosing Newt Gingrich would be an effective admission from Donald Trump that he’s given up on courting female voters. Incredibly, however, that doesn’t rule him out.