Donald Trump has tried to brazen out rejections from rumoured vice-presidential picks, saying no one asked them. But now the presumptive Republican presidential nominee is being turned down by some whom he may have asked.
Bob Corker, a powerful senator who has had some very high-profile interactions with Trump, said on Wednesday he was not interested, and suggested the post go to his daughter Ivanka Trump instead.
And Joni Ernst, a popular woman senator from Iowa who might have helped Trump with women voters as his running mate, took herself off the table after a lengthy meeting with the candidate.
Trump still has a shortlist of people who have not said no and who are being vetted by his campaign — governors Chris Christie and Mike Pence and former speaker Newt Gingrich.
But the real estate mogul, who plans to announce his pick before the party convention, may be running out of options and may have to settle for whoever says yes.
Former Senator Marco Rubio, who ran against Trump for the party nomination, was among the first to rule himself out, and so was Indian-American governor Nikki Haley.
Even when some, such as Senator Jeff Sessions, said they were willing and waiting for a call from Trump, a narrative of Trump’s vice-presidential search being in trouble began to take shape.
“The only people who are not interested in being the VP pick are the people who have not been asked!” the nominee said in a tweet last Monday, just days before Corker said no, publicly.
He was not suited for the job, Corker told multiple interviewers. And to MSNBC he said, “His best running mate, by the way, would be Ivanka.”
Trump had clearly wanted Corker, who as Senate foreign affairs committee chairman would have brought the ticket the national security heft that the candidate clearly lacks.
With Ernst also taking herself off, after her meeting with him earlier this week that he tweeted about, his options are shrinking - at least among lawmakers, where his search has been focussed so far.
Trump, who has pitched himself as a non-politician, has said he would need his VP pick to be someone who can help him with legislative affairs, of which he has no experience.
His shortlist (or wish-list), therefore, is dominated by lawmakers such as Corker, Gingrich and Ernst followed by administrators such as Christie and Pence, both serving governors.
He met with Pence, who is Indiana governor, and his family earlier this week, and tweeted about it. And appeared with Corker and Gingrich at campaign events.
He seems to have turned his VP search into something of a show, The New York Times pointed out in an article headlined: “Donald Trump’s New Reality Show: The Running Mate”.
At a campaign event on Wednesday with Gingrich, Trump said, “I’m not saying it’s Newt, but if it’s Newt, nobody is going to be beating him in those (vice-presidential) debates.”
So, the search — and the show — goes on.