US polls: As Donald trumps all, matchmakers hunt for running mate

  • Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times, Washington
  • Updated: May 05, 2016 10:46 IST
Now that Trump is on the verge of bagging the Republican nomination, matchmakers have begun scouting for a suitable running mate. (Seth Perlman/ AP photo)

South Carolina’s Indian American governor Nikki Haley signaled on Wednesday that she will support Donald Trump if he becomes the Republican nominee – a prospect that seems very likely now.

Haley, however, said she won’t join his ticket as running mate because there was enough on her plate already. Moreover, there was no indication that Trump would even ask.

Now that Trump is on the verge of bagging the nomination, matchmakers have begun scouting for a suitable running mate for him. The candidate himself has been understandably coy about it.

Asked to comment on the matter in a CNN interview on Wednesday, Trump said he may name Ben Carson and/or Chris Christie to a committee appointed to look for one. To a direct question from the interviewer if he would like to vet Kasich for the VP slot, Trump answered in the affirmative – as could only be expected in his newly assumed avatar of unifier.

The process of selecting running mates, which is wrapped in layers of secrecy, involves intensive vetting of multiple candidates by a team of lawyers led by one of the candidate’s most loyal aides.

Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee on Tuesday after delivering a crushing defeat to Ted Cruz, the only rival who posed him a real challenge, in the Indiana primary. Cruz quit the race on Tuesday, swiftly followed by Kasich – who never had much of a shot at the nomination, given how he fared worse than many others who dropped out earlier.

Read: As Trump wins Indiana, Clinton aims to woo ‘thoughtful Republicans’

The Republicans started out with 17 candidates, pegged by experts as one of the strongest line-ups ever fielded by the party. As Trump first shot to the top in polls and then picked off the nominating contests one by one, others – including one-time frontrunner Jeb Bush – dropped out.

The real-estate mogul’s gravity-defying rise continued unabated, surviving gaffes, scares and missteps that would have grounded other campaigns. But then, this is 2016, the year of insurgent campaigns, with Trump in the Republican party and Bernie Sanders, a lifelong independent-turned Democrat, across the aisle.

With the Indiana win on Tuesday, Trump’s tally of delegates climbed to 1,047 – only 190 short of the 1,247 required to win the ticket. Cruz was at 565 and Kasich at 153.

The need to get the math right, however, is moot for Trump. As the only candidate in the field, he will be the only one on the ballot at the Republican convention in Cleveland, Ohio, in July. By that time, he would have settled on a running mate, as is the practice, and announced him/her with the fanfare associated with it.

Occasionally, those entrusted with the hunt have emerged as the pick themselves. A case in point is Dick Cheney, who became George W Bush’s running mate after spearheading the hunt for one.

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