Nolan Finley: Veep choice could allay fears about Trump

Nolan Finley, The Detroit News on

Published in Op Eds

Voters have one last chance to see a candidate on the ballot this fall who is qualified to run the country while also exciting a deeply disappointed electorate.

Unfortunately, the decision on who that candidate will be rests with Donald Trump, a man not known for prioritizing the nation's best interests over his own ego.

Trump will fill the final spot on the major party presidential tickets with his choice for vice president, presumably in the next week or two. He has reportedly narrowed his list to seven or eight candidates.

More so than in any other election cycle, getting the choice right is critical this cycle, given the age of the two standard-bearers.

Democrats are stuck with Vice President Kamala Harris, even though her 39% approval rating in the Real Clear Politics polling average is a tick below President Joe Biden's 40%. Despite persistent speculation about the president stepping down or being pushed out at the August convention, he isn't going anywhere. Democrats seem resolved to coax his carcass over the finish line and drag Harris along with him.

Any of those mentioned as replacements for Biden — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, etc. — would increase Biden's odds of reelection if tapped as his running mate. Those considering a vote for the 81-year-old have to know they are voting to ultimately make Harris president. Even for many Democratic loyalists, that prospect is hard to swallow.

But this suicidal Democratic ticket is set and will probably stay that way. Getting rid of Harris in favor of a non-Black replacement would be impossible in a year when the party fears losing African American voters. Maybe Michelle Obama will raise her hand.

Trump, who just turned 78, is also in his bonus years. Voters weighing whether to mark their ballots for him, too, must look hard at the suitability of his No. 2.


His reported finalists are split between MAGA right-wingers and more mainstream conservatives, and, in typical Trump fashion, he's given no consistent clues of which way he'll go.

Trump should be MAGA enough for the GOP base; the ticket doesn't benefit from another red-hatted true believer. Yet there are some of those under consideration, including Reps. Byron Donalds of Florida and Elise Stefanik of New York, along with former HUD Secretary Ben Carson. None appeal to the rational middle.

Fabulist author and rookie Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott have bright political futures and broader attractiveness but aren't ready for the top job.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum have made their own presidential bids, and are not fawning Trump acolytes. They could help counter the hysterical Democratic claims that Trump will replace democracy with dictatorship.

So could Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, Trump's former rival Nikki Haley or Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, should the options be expanded. They have strong enough "not crazy" credentials to help Trump with the so-called double haters, who say they can't vote for either him or Biden.

The question is whether the base allows Trump to make a choice that might get him elected, or instead demand an ideologically pure yet doomed all-MAGA ticket?

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