Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, left, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, right, acknowledge the crowd during a campaign rally at the Sharonville Convention Center, July 6, 2016, in Cincinnati.
Photo by John Minchillo/AP

The running-mate race starts coming into sharper focus

It’s fashionable in some circles to downplay the importance of presidential candidates choosing a running mate, but I’m of the opinion that the “veepstakes” process matters a great deal. Who a major-party nominee chooses, and how, is one of the most importance decisions – if not the most importance decision – a candidate will make.
The Rachel Maddow Show, 7/12/16, 9:10 PM ET

Republican stable Fox News raises intrigue with Gingrich move

Rachel Maddow shows how Republican politicians leave their jobs with Fox News before they run for office and how some are wondering if the departure of Newt Gingrich from Fox News is a clue about his consideration as a possible running mate to Donald…
We won’t have to wait much longer to learn who the Republicans’ vice presidential candidate will be – NBC News reports that Donald Trump will make his announcement on Friday – although hints abound for those who are eager to guess. The Wall Street Journal reported overnight:
Donald Trump is looking for a running mate who can be a “fighter skilled in hand-to-hand combat” to help him parry criticism on the campaign trail, and he has narrowed his list to a handful of seasoned politicians.
Mr. Trump, in a telephone interview Tuesday, said his top picks include Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and a couple politicians who haven’t gotten as much attention, including Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions.
The New York businessman has said he wanted a seasoned government leader as a running mate. But in the interview, on the way to events with Mr. Pence in Indiana, Mr. Trump added a new criterion: He wants an attack dog.
One leading contender who would seem to fit the bill is Gingrich, who ended his formal relationship with Fox News yesterday, prompting a new round of chatter about his plans.
Why does this matter? Because as Rachel noted on the show last night, Fox News is in “an unusual position in American politics and American broadcasting in that the Fox News Channel is effectively the official TV station of the Republican Party. And whether you like that about them or you don’t, having Fox have the role of being official Republican TV, it does give us one very handy signal we wouldn’t otherwise have in American politics: Fox News helps us know when specific Republican politicians are about to run for office.
“They make it really obvious. It’s like clockwork. Republican politicians leave office, or they lose an election or something, they go then, get a job at Fox News. Then, as soon as they’re ready to run for office again, Fox News has to go through this big public display of firing them. And so, we all get this very clear, sure-fire sign that a Republican politician is about to jump back into electoral politics when they get fired from Fox News for that purpose.”
See, for example, Ben Carson, Scott Brown, Liz Cheney, Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee, and four years ago, Newt Gingrich.
Of course, Gingrich cutting ties with Fox yesterday doesn’t guarantee that he’ll be Trump’s running mate. Maybe the former Speaker is taking a temporary leave from the network and will re-establish his role later this year. It does, however, ratchet up the intrigue a bit.
As for the Democrats, Hillary Clinton probably won’t make her announcement until late next week. In the meantime, however, Democratic officials announced yesterday that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) will deliver a prime-time address on the first night of the party’s convention – which isn’t a bad gig, but it’s not the slot a vice presidential candidate receives.
Sure, Dems could rearrange the schedule if Clinton taps Warren for the ticket, but yesterday’s announcement didn’t increase the senator’s vice presidential odds.
There was also some chatter yesterday about Clinton’s team vetting former NATO Supreme Allied Commander James Stavridis, a retired four-star Navy admiral, though by the end of the day, Democratic insiders were downplaying his odds of making the party’s ticket.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton

The running-mate race starts coming into sharper focus