As Palmer Report has pointed out, Donald Trump’s Florida rally to launch his 2020 re-election campaign resembled his 2016 campaign events so much that it would almost be impossible to spot the difference. One thing, however, has changed, and that is the fact that the name of Vice President Pence has gone missing from the official campaign signs that Trump supporters have been dutifully holding up for the cameras.
When asked by Chuck Todd on Meet the Press “Is Mike Pence 100% on your ticket in 2020?”, Trump answered in the affirmative, calling Pence “a terrific Vice President” and a friend – but we have all seen how easily the Opportunist-in-Chief will throw people under the bus if it serves his own interests.
Then on Sunday, the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by Andrew Stein which floated the idea of replacing Mike Pence with former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley in order to win over moderate suburban women with whom Donald Trump is doing notoriously badly. Stein – who was a co-founder of the “Democrats for Trump” movement in 2016 – opines that Trump deserves a second term and that making Haley his new running mate would all but guarantee his re-election.
Although Andrew Stein claimed in a CNN interview on Monday that the president has nothing to do with his idea and hasn’t in any way reacted to the suggested strategy of switching out Pence for Haley, there are speculations on social media that these considerations may not be limited to just one single person on the political periphery. Conservative commenter Bill Kristol tweeted: “This op-ed pushing a Trump-Nikki Haley ticket is by former NYC pol Andrew Stein (who later pled guilty to lying in a financial fraud). Stein knows Trump, of course, and is close to others in Trump world. Zero chance this trial balloon isn’t ok with Trump.”
Picking a new Vice President in between terms would be a rather unusual move for an incumbent, but then again, Trump has been known to flout norms and traditions in a much more serious way than that. In the light of abysmal polling numbers and yet another accusation of sexual assault brought forward against the former New York real estate tycoon, it’s very possible that the Trump campaign is considering putting a female VP candidate on the 2020 ticket. Of course, the success of this strategy would depend on the willingness of Republican-leaning women to overlook the president’s many transgressions simply based on the fact that he has a female running mate. The assumption that this might work on a large scale is perhaps an insult to women in itself.
It will be interesting to see if Donald Trump indeed ends up ditching Pence in favor of Haley in a desperate bid to win re-election. If this were to happen, it would also be interesting to see if Nikki Haley would accept the offer of becoming Trump’s vice-presidential candidate. If she turned down the offer, perhaps Donald Trump would turn to Diamond and Silk next.