The reality of Donald Trump being the Republican nominee has settled in for most of us. We all have a choice moving forward. We can follow the advice of my friend, Larry Elder, and make the best of the situation and try to make Trump the best he can be or we can mope. Since my life rule is to always make the best of the situation at hand and Trump could be the next president, I have chosen to accept the wise advice of the “Sage” as Elder is affectionately known. That is why I am going to address Trump’s most important decision.
For most presidential candidates, it has been said their biggest decision is choosing their vice president. This is despite the fact that academic studies show that rarely does the VP change the election. People vote for the person at the top. VP’s sometimes do not even bring a state with them. For Trump, the choice of his VP will have the most meaning of any candidate in my lifetime. He needs to accomplish two things: First, he must show he is serious about running the country -- changing the path of government intrusion and growth; and, second, he must choose someone that can solidify the Republican Party behind him.
As soon as Trump won Indiana and his two remaining opponents withdrew from the race, the speculation started about his running mate. News websites like the The Hill and Daily Caller released their already-written columns with many of the usual suspects on the list. Republicans are rich with opportunity due to the fact that other than the presidency they are in charge of the country, controlling the Congress and so many state governments. Some names that would stand out (in other years) are Rubio, Cruz, Christie, Kasich and Walker, all former candidates. Respected governors like Nikki Haley (South Carolina) and Susana Martinez (New Mexico) are also bantered about, along with Joni Ernst, senator from Iowa, to bring a woman on the ticket. Two long-established and well-known Republicans, Newt Gingrich and Rudy Giuliani, are mentioned because of their favorable attitude toward Trump and their ties to the establishment.
These are all fine choices in a normal year for a normal candidate. Each one also provides downsides. For example, Kasich -- who was the most experienced candidate of anyone running for president -- brings solid governmental experience at both the state and federal level and popularity in Ohio. Unfortunately, the more conservative wing of the party does not trust him. Rubio brings many attributes including being a Hispanic and being from Florida, but he does not bring the gravitas in government that Trump needs.
There is one person who could solidify Trump’s base and give him a serious VP who would be able to step in at any moment and run the government. This person has the most respect of anyone who is in the Republican Party. That is based on his outstanding credentials, his electability and his vast experience. Yet no one is talking about him yet, but they will be soon.
That person is Mitch Daniels.
The former governor of Indiana, and now president of Purdue University, Mitch Daniels is the most respected individual I can think of among any Republican who has held elected office. His two terms as governor was a lab study for how to properly operate a Republican government. He was not only highly thought of prior to being governor, but he really laid the groundwork for all the Midwest Republican governors like Walker, Kasich, Rick Snyder (MI), Bruce Rauner (IL) and his successor Mike Pence, another extremely-respected Republican. If you are not totally familiar with Daniels’ work, go back and read the analysis some of which Stephen Hayes (Fox News and The Weekly Standard) did and was excellent reporting.
Daniels brought a lot of non-politicos in to help him revamp the operation. Reading their accounts of how he convinced them to help turn around the Hoosier state was inspiring.
He also ran the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under President George W. Bush. He served on both the National Security Council and Homeland Security Council as part of his position running the OMB.
How many Republicans can you think of who are invited to become president of a major university? We should all give credit to the Board of Trustees of Purdue who had the vision to bring Daniels on to straighten out their operation.
He is the real deal. He decided to not run for president in both 2012 and 2016. The only drawback that Trump would have is all the conservatives talking about flipping the ticket.
In the meantime, Hillary will pick some run-of-the-mill political hack to be on her ticket. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is spoken of to placate the Sanders crowd. The one who has been touted for awhile is Julian Castro, who is currently the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. He has climbed the Democratic ladder because of being a Hispanic, but with very few accomplishments other than expanding Pre-K in San Antonio while mayor.
Daniels will probably be very reluctant to come on board. But we will see how serious Trump is and how good a salesman he can be if he can convince Daniels. Trump has made clear he wants an active VP, which would fit into his management style. He also has made clear he wants to revamp the regulatory regime in DC, and no one would be better to lead that than Daniels.
Now, Mr. Trump, get on your airplane and fly to West Lafayette to show us you are really serious about changing the path of our national government. Sign on Mitch Daniels as your VP. No one will complain … except the Democrats.