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A Heartbeat Away from the Presidency

Binyamin Rose

Donald Trump is experiencing his own version of the shidduch crisis. He doesn’t seem to have a trophy candidate or the perfect political soul mate. Some of the leading names have already given their “if asked, I will not accept” speeches.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Conventional political wisdom has it that Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, needs a running mate who will compensate for some of the New Yorker’s glaring weaknesses. Those include a lack of political and legislative experience, and minimal support among female, Hispanic, and African American voters, a group that, taken together comprises the majority of the American electorate. Some potential vice presidential candidates might also find it distasteful to share a spot on the ticket with a man who verbally spanks his opponents as easily as other people flick away mosquitoes. Others may be convinced that Trump will be trounced in November, leaving their own careers tainted in the process. YetDonaldTrump has defied all of the probabilities so far. His newly retooled campaign is making concerted efforts to woo Republican mainstreamers to his side long before the gavel falls on the Republican nominating convention inCleveland on July 18. And the vice presidency is a tempting job, no matter what anyone is saying now. Based on past history, a vice president has a one-in-five chance of becoming commander in chief. It hasn’t happened since 1974, whenGeraldFord replacedRichardNixon, who resigned in the wake of the Watergate scandal, but nine vice presidents have taken the oath of office in midterm, upon the death or resignation of the president. For the history buffs out there, the others wereJohnTyler,MillardFillmore,AndrewJohnson, Chester Arthur,TheodoreRoosevelt,CalvinCoolidge,HarryTruman, andLyndonJohnson. So the term “a heartbeat away from the presidency” isn’t just a cliché. And Trump is not a spring chicken. If elected and reelected, he would be 78 at the end of a second term. The approach a presidential nominee uses to select a running mate is always one of the most closely watched procedures in any campaign. It provides deep insight into how a potential president and his staff might make decisions, and serves as testimony to the soundness of their judgment. Trump first addressed the question of a running mate at a campaign appearance in Council Bluffs, Iowa the day before the Iowa caucuses. “It’s a simple test,” Trump said. “Who’s going to be the best president if something happens to me?”

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