I’m kind of glad to get this out of the way.
Running mate choices are among the most over-covered events in every presidential election cycle. The running mate has virtually no impact on anyone’s vote, and yet speculation about who – oh who! – might be chosen is endless once it’s clear who the nominees might be.
Now, incumbent presidents almost never (but not quite never) dump their sitting vice presidents when they run for re-election. Gerald Ford dumped Nelson Rockefeller in favor of Bob Dole. Abraham Lincoln dumped Hannibal Hamlin in favor of Andrew Johnson. And Franklin Delano Roosevelt actually three different vice presidents over the course of his four terms, which is why Harry Truman was considered so wet behind the ears when he suddenly had to take the top job.
People talk about president/vice president tickets as if they would govern as some sort of tag team. In reality, the vice president has only as much influence as the president decides to let him have, and sometimes it’s not all that much. Dick Cheney had a lot in the George W. Bush Administration because Bush valued his knowledge, experience and toughness. Al Gore’s influence was limited in the Clinton Administration because a) Bill didn’t really know how to empower him; and b) Hillary would only let you have so much power, which wasn’t much, if your name wasn’t Hillary.
Mike Pence seems to play a valuable role in the Trump Administration because a) he understands how to deal with Congress, having served in it himself; b) he knows policy; c) he understands the concerns of the states, having been a governor; and d) he is a cool customer who likely has a calming effect on a president sometimes given to impulse.
And while the media can’t stand him – but then what else is new? – he’s popular with Republican voters and he appears to have Trump’s confidence. I don’t think there was ever much doubt about this, but Trump made it official on Sunday that Pence will remain on the ticket in 2020:
U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday he would keep Vice President Mike Pence as his running mate when he seeks re-election in November 2020.
“I’m very happy with Mike Pence,” Trump, who is expected to easily win the Republican nomination for a second term, told reporters before boarding Air Force One in New Jersey.
There are those who think Pence is a sellout for the way he stands at attention and looks respectfully – sometimes almost admiringly – at Trump. That’s exactly what he needs to do.
Pence understands that the media would like nothing more than a photo of him sneering, rolling his eyes or shaking his head at the president. The worst thing he could do would be to give them such an image.
Pence’s job is to help Trump govern, to help him work with Congress and to help him navigate the political minefields of Washington. Trump has no experience doing any of this. Pence has lots of it. What he says to Trump privately, no one knows, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all to learn that Pence has had to be candid and critical with Trump at times.
But it would do no one any good if Pence publicly split from Trump, or even gave away body language to suggest any rift between the two. Some conservative Christians who don’t like Trump’s moral terpitude are upset with Pence for not calling him out about these things. That’s not Pence’s job. Trump is the duly elected president and the nation needs him to be successful. That’s what Pence is there to help make happen.
I don’t expect to write much about this again because, as I said at the beginning, vice presidential choices don’t deserve anywhere near the attention they get. But what was always kind of apparent has now been made official. It will be Trump/Pence again in 2020.
We could do much worse, and not so long ago, we did.
Author: Dan Calabrese
Source: Western Journal: Trump: Yes, in case you were wondering, Mike Pence will be my running mate again in 2020