At various points through the Republicans’ presidential primary process, various GOP leaders and candidates thought they could derail Donald Trump with one big speech. Mitt Romney, Rand Paul, Bobby Jindal, and others stepped up the plate, delivered carefully crafted remarks on the dangers Trump posed to the party and the country, and hoped the weight of their words would change the trajectory of the race.
Each, obviously, failed.
Among the most notable of these speeches, however, came by way of former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), who invited the press to a DC hotel near the White House last July to deliver an anti-Trump stem-winder.
“My fellow Republicans, beware of false prophets,” Perry said at the time. “Do not let itching ears be tickled by messengers who appeal to anger, division and resentment. I will not go quiet when this cancer on conservatism threatens to metastasize into a movement of mean-spirited politics that will send the Republican Party to the same place it sent the Whig Party in 1854: the graveyard.”
Perry went on to characterize Trump as “a barking carnival act” who offers a “toxic mix of demagoguery, mean-spiritedness and nonsense that will lead the Republican Party to perdition if pursued.” Keep all of this in mind when considering what Perry said yesterday. TPM reported:
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) on Thursday endorsed Donald Trump and left the door open to becoming the Republican vice presidential nominee.“He is not a perfect man. But what I do believe is that he loves this country and he will surround himself with capable, experienced people and he will listen to them,” Perry told CNN. “He wasn’t my first choice, wasn’t my second choice, but he is the people’s choice.” […]“He is one of the most talented people who has ever run for the president I have ever seen,” Perry told CNN.
When the subject turned to a possible role as Trump’s running mate, the Texas Republican added, “I am going to be open to any way I can help. I am not going to say no.”
No, of course not. Why say no to partnering with “a barking carnival act” who represents a “cancer on conservatism,” who’s poised to send your party to the “graveyard”?
The drama surrounding the process of a presumptive nominee choosing the vice presidential contender is always fascinating. People who actually want the job are supposed to be subtle – those who are too eager tend to lose out – and aspirants are generally expected to feign disinterest.
Perry’s comments yesterday were ridiculous given what he said about Trump last summer, but as it relates to the VP process, the former governor ably put his name out there.
What makes 2016 so unusual – one of the many reasons, actually – is that under normal circumstances, serving as your party’s running mate is generally seen as a pretty sweet gig. If you lose, the campaign still raises your stature and visibility, opening the door to a brighter electoral future. If you win, you hold national office and you’re one heartbeat from the presidency.
But with Trump as the Republicans’ presumptive nominee, the usual dynamic doesn’t apply at all. Many in the party, who would otherwise make a sensible VP choice, are already rushing to withdraw their names from consideration, unwilling to be tied to Trump. As the New York Times reported earlier this week:
It’s a time-honored tradition for politicians to deny any interest in the vice presidency. But this year, with the possibility of Donald J. Trump as the Republican nominee, they really mean it.“Never,” said Chris Schrimpf, a spokesman for Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, who is still running against Mr. Trump. “No chance.”“Hahahahahahahahaha,” wrote Sally Bradshaw, a senior adviser to Jeb Bush, when asked if he would consider it.“Scott Walker has a visceral negative reaction to Trump’s character,” said Ed Goeas, a longtime adviser to the Wisconsin governor. […]A remarkable range of leading Republicans, including Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina and Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, have been emphatic publicly or with their advisers and allies that they do not want to be considered as Mr. Trump’s running mate.
I suppose it’s possible that all of these folks are playing the game of appearing disinterested, while quietly hoping for a call from the candidate’s vetting team, though by all appearances, they’re quite sincere.
For his part, Trump said yesterday he intends to announce his running mate “at the convention,” which begins in Cleveland in mid-July.