Governors Top List of Trump's Possible Running Mates
By Tim Funk
With Donald Trump's Tuesday victory in Indiana, he now looks like a sure bet to become the 2016 Republican presidential nominee.
The next item on his agenda: Whom should he pick as his running mate?
His decision will depend on what he hopes to accomplish with his No. 2.
Here are 22 possible candidates, bunched according to the various scenarios Trump and his campaign team will likely consider.
IF HE WANTS TO DOUBLE DOWN...
1. Gov. Chris Christie
Trump-Christie '16: A pair of alpha males from New York-New Jersey. Christie ran a tough-talking, if short-lived, bid for the White House, then shocked the GOP establishment by endorsing the equally macho Trump.
2. Sheriff Joe Arpaio
Picking the Arizona lawman with a reputation for profiling Hispanic immigrants would reinforce Trump's crowd-pleasing pledge to build "The Wall" and make Mexico pay for it.
3. Sarah Palin
The former Alaska governor, who endorsed Trump early, has become a punchline for late-night TV comics. But she still has a following among many in the Republican base. And she has some experience at this running mate thing.
IF HE WANTS TO ADDRESS DISMAL POLL NUMBERS...
4. Gov. Susana Martinez
Choosing the governor of New Mexico _ a swing state _ would signal Trump wants to make up with women and Hispanics. His unfavorable ratings among both are sky-high.
5. Gov. Nikki Haley
Or Trump could play the woman's card with this rising Republican star. South Carolina is a GOP gimme, but Haley's deft handling of the Confederate flag issue and her own personal story _ the daughter of Indian immigrants who came to the U.S. legally _ could bring more voters to the ticket. One question: Can Trump get over her swipe at him in her State of the Union response?
6. Sen. Tim Scott
A hero to conservatives and the only African-American Republican in the Senate, South Carolina's Scott might help Trump make inroads into the black community _ now a Hillary Clinton stronghold she's counting on to win.
IF HE WANTS A WASHINGTON INSIDER...
7. Newt Gingrich
House speaker in the 1990s, when another Clinton was president, Gingrich has experience going after Hillary and Bill. He could also add some meat to Trump's thin policy proposals _ and help him govern with a conservative agenda if he wins.
8. Sen. Joni Ernst
Another GOP star on the rise, Ernst hails from another swing state _ Iowa _ and could help Trump on Capitol Hill. She sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee and served in the Gulf War as a lieutenant colonel in the Army National Guard.
9. Gen. James "Mad Dog" Mattis
A 44-year veteran, the retired Marine Corps four-star general could be Trump's go-to guy if he suddenly becomes commander-in-chief and needs a crash course on the world's hot spots. Mattis, a former commander of Central Command, is so popular with conservative elites that they've launched a campaign to get him to run as a third-party alternative to Trump and Clinton.
IF HE WANTS AN OUTSIDER TICKET...
10. Dr. Ben Carson
The retired neurosurgeon is still a favorite with conservative Christians, though not enough of them voted for him to keep his run for president alive. His low-key approach contrasts with Trump's loud style. But they are both political neophytes who could run a campaign to bulldoze the Washington establishment.
11. Franklin Graham
The North Carolina-based evangelist and son of legendary Billy Graham is already on the campaign trail _ he's holding rallies in all 50 states this year to fire up evangelical Christian voters. Graham has no government experience, but he does run two large ministries. And he called for blocking Muslim immigrants months before Trump did.
12. Carl Icahn
On the stump, Trump often mentions his fellow billionaire businessman as a pal who could get things done for his administration _ like negotiate a tough deal with China. A New York magnate and investor with a history of hostile takeovers, Icahn could amplify Trump's sweeping claims that he'll run the government like a business.
IF HE WANTS TO UNITE THE REPUBLICAN PARTY...
13. Sen. Marco Rubio
Trump dismissed him as "Little Marco" when the Florida senator was his opponent. But as he readies a fall campaign, The Donald could use Rubio's polish, his ties to the Hispanic community, and his support from the GOP establishment.
14. Gov. John Kasich
No Republican has ever won the White House without carrying Ohio. That's reason enough to make peace with Kasich, one of Trump's (barely) surviving opponents for the GOP nomination. The Ohio governor also could help Trump appeal to independents and disaffected Democrats.
15. Gov. Scott Walker
Once thought to be the Republican to beat for the party's 2016 presidential nomination, the Wisconsin governor is still a hero to many conservatives for fighting public employee unions and beating the Democrats in a swing state. A combative campaigner, Walker could also play a role in Trump's hopes of competing with Clinton in the Rust Belt.
IF HE WANTS A CELEBRITY WILD CARD
16. Joe Scarborough
By tapping the host of MSNBC's "Morning Joe," Trump would bet that American politics in 2016 has become so celebrity-friendly that the star of a reality TV show can draw huge crowds and beat senators and governors at the polls. And in addition to his household name, Scarborough would bring Washington experience to the ticket: He used to be a GOP congressman from Florida.
17. Clint Eastwood
Yes, the Hollywood actor-director is 85 and bombed at the last Republican convention by conversing with an empty chair on stage. But the star of "Dirty Harry" did serve as mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea, Calif. (1986-88) and Ronald Reagan started as a movie actor, too. Adding Clint to the GOP ticket would make many voters' day.
18. Jesse "The Body" Ventura
The one-time professional wrestler is a pioneer in the club Trump hopes to join in November: Celebrities who got elected to a top office. In 1998, Ventura ran and won as the Reform Party candidate for governor of Minnesota. He didn't run for re-election, but he's stayed on top of political issues and is hosting a TV show _ a skill Trump can appreciate.
AND IF HE WANTS SOMEBODY WHO MIGHT ACTUALLY SAY YES...
19. Scott Brown
Trump himself floated Brown's name as a possible running mate, telling a New Hampshire crowd in January that the former U.S. senator from Massachusetts would make a "very good" vice president. "And he's central casting," added Trump, probably a reference to Brown's movie-star looks rather than his decision to pose nude for Cosmopolitan magazine in 1982.
20. Sen. Jeff Sessions
The Alabama senator, who shares Trump's hard-core stand against illegal immigration, is still the only member of the U.S. Senate to endorse Trump. He also advises the campaign. Alabama is a sure win for Trump in November with or without Sessions on the ticket. But with media reports indicating that most GOP senators and governors would refuse a Trump invitation to run with him, Sessions has said he'd be happy to undergo the vetting process to be No. 2 on the ticket.
21. Gov. Mary Fallin
The Oklahoma governor has also reportedly told allies that she is open to the idea of joining Trump for a national race. Trump needs help repairing his breach with women voters, many of whom have been offended by his comments denigrating everybody from Carly Fiorina to FOX News anchor Megyn Kelly.
22. Gov. Rick Scott
Like Trump, the Florida governor is a successful businessman who first got elected without the support of the Republican establishment. Scott's biggest advantage is where he lives: In recent decades, no Republican has been elected president without carrying swing-state Florida, with its 29 electoral votes. After Trump won the Florida primary this year, Scott endorsed him, saying "the voters have spoken."
(c)2016 The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.)