Vice President Pence has carried out his role with near perfection. That is because his role is to support the President and the administration policies … period. Most certainly a Vice President can disagree with his boss, but only in private.
The most important duty of the Vice President is to stand by in case the President should croak. The only constitutionally prescribed duty is to preside over the Senate – and you know how seldom that happens.
Although a Vice President has no official duties, the President can assign projects – as President Trump did in making Pence the point person on the Coronavirus epidemic.
Some Presidents form a close relationship with their Vice President – as did President Clinton and Vice President Gore. But that is not necessary and not always the case. That is because they are often picked for pragmatic reasons – not on political kinship. President Kennedy and his Vice President Johnson practically hated each other – but Kennedy needed to carry Texas.
To consider Pence’s future in the second-banana office, we need to look at the previous Vice President – Joe Biden. He was also a perfect Vice President – never disagreeing with President Obama in public. He carried out any and all assignments given to him by the President – including managing America’s relationship with Ukraine.
Now that he is running for President, himself, Biden is taking credit for all the things that Obama did that would be popular with Democrat voters. Whenever he speaks of an accomplishment, he starts with “I did (fill in the blank)” – with great emphasis on the “I.”
Since he is no longer the cheerleader for Obama, we are to believe that Biden did not always agree with everything Obama did. Biden now claims that he “fought against” Obama’s high number of deportations – and there were rumors that Biden opposed taking out Osama Bin Laden.
While most modern Presidents stuck with their Vice Presidents when seeking re-election, that was not always the case. President Franklin Roosevelt had three Vice Presidents. Texas racist John Nance Gardner served in the post for FDR’s first two terms but broke with Roosevelt when he went for the unprecedented third term.
Roosevelt selected socialist Henry Wallace for his third term. He was forced out in favor of Senator Harry Truman because FDR was too ill to live much longer, and the party leaders believed a socialist in the Oval Office would not be well received by the American people. (Apparently, things have not changed much.)
So far, Trump has not given any indication that he wants a different Vice President but there are good reasons to make a switch. Of course, it is all very hypothetical, but so what. Let’s play the game.
The first consideration is that Trump is likely to face a tough re-election. Though the odds-makers think he will win, it could be close. That raises the question of Pence’s actual value to the ticket.
While Pence has a significant following in the conservative wing of the Republican Party, he is not the most liked Vice President in history. Also, he does not bring a significant political base to the ticket. In 2016, Pence was perceived as a counterbalance to Trump’s lack of ideology. Today, Trump has a lock on principled conservatives who see issues as more important than personality.
Pence comes from Indiana – a state that Trump is likely to carry in 2020 with or without Pence.
If Pence has presidential ambitions, he must certainly know that a Vice President immediately succeeding a President is an extremely rare occurrence. President George H. Bush was the first since Martin Van Buren – and there has been none since.
For the record, Vice President Nixon was out of office for eight years before he became President. Nixon used that time to travel the rubber chicken circuit to win political friends and allies. Pence could do the same.
If Trump were to ponder a change, who would do him the most good? Conventional wisdom would suggest a woman. There are a number of good options – but the most appealing might be former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley – not only a woman but a minority. Or as the Democrats say, a woman of color. You would never guess.
Trump could look to the Senate for a Joni Ernst, of Iowa, or Martha McSally, of Arizona. That would likely put those two states in Trump’s column. There are also several good choices on the male side. Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania, Rick Scott of Florida, Marco Rubio of Florida, or Robert Portman of Ohio would all help in battleground states.
One of the more interesting choices could be Tim Scott of South Carolina. As a black conservative he bridges critical constituencies. It would be a counterbalance to the person I suspect will be the most likely Democrat pick – California Senator Kamala Harris.
Well … enough of the political parlor game of speculation. As Trump oft say, “We’ll just have to wait and see.”
So, there ‘tis.