It’s a little early, even in a politics-obsessed presidential year, for speculation about anybody’s running mate. But according to the Washington Examiner’s Paul Bedard, the two leading “outsider” Republican presidential candidates are already looking inside for a complement to the Big Man:>
Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s slow rise in the presidential primary polls is being carefully watched by Republican front-runners Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz, but not because they fear he will challenge them.
Insiders report that both Cruz and Trump see the populist conservative as the best choice for a potential running mate.
“Populist” conservative? Well, just let that one go for a moment.
“Why would he be a good choice for veep?” said one adviser to both candidates. “He had 18 years in the House. He is a two-term governor of a major state Obama won twice, Ohio. He has been thoroughly vetted via running for president and two statewide elections.”
Another insider said Kasich is well-liked in GOP circles and is “acceptable to a significant portion of the establishment.” The proof: His presidential candidacy has been endorsed by several current and former House members.
What’s more, they said, his long-time expertise in federal budgeting makes him valuable. “Neither Trump nor Cruz has any deep understanding of the federal budget,” the adviser said. “He could totally talk the talk and walk the walk with House and Senate members. He speaks their language. There would be a clear channel of communication back and forth, White House to Hill and vice versa,” he added.
I don’t know that expertise is that big a deal in Trumpland or Cruz City, and the list of potential veeps who would improve the acceptability of these two pariahs is very long. But there are a few reasons Kasich might be especially attractive to Cruz and Trump:
• He’s a one-man résumé-booster, covering federal and state government offices to a degree no one else this side of assisted living can offer.
• He signals a focus on electability that only he or one of the Floridians can provide, which the Republican Establishment will absolutely demand as a price of partywide support for someone like Trump or Cruz.
• Talking up Kasich might preempt pressure to choose someone the candidates don’t want to deal with for their perceived general-election weaknesses, like a woman or (for Trump, at least — I’m not sure America could deal with a Cruz-Rubio ticket of two Cuban-Americans whom Mexican-Americans don’t much like) a Latino.
Having said all that, no one should put that much stock in early speculation on veep candidates. Their main value is to heal factional breeches, and it won’t be clear which faction would need the most placating by a Cruz or a Trump until the bloody mess of a primary battle it would take to nominate either one is over. Going into 2012, Marco Rubio was a lead-pipe cinch for the GOP veep nomination, or so you would have thought from scuttlebutt, and even from polls. Right now, the only “consensus” over Kasich (to use the term in the headline of the Washington Examiner piece) may be between Paul Bedard’s ears.