Donald Trump has approximately one month to pick a running mate, and it appears as though most Republican insiders would prefer that the presumptive GOP nominee choose former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich.
Gingrich, who is beloved by conservatives, narrowly edges out other likely choices, which include Senator Marco Rubio and Senator Jeff Sessions.
GOP members of The POLITICO Caucus – a panel of activists, strategists and operatives in 10 key battleground states – splintered this week when asked to suggest who Trump should select to share the ticket with him this fall.
Gaining the most support were former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (13 percent), Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (9 percent), Ohio Gov. John Kasich (8 percent), former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (8 percent), Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst (7 percent) and Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions (7 percent).
A plurality of Democratic and nonpartisan members see Rubio, who is reconsidering whether to retire from the Senate before next week’s filing deadline to run for reelection, as Trump’s strongest running mate. Given a list of seven possible choices, just over a third said Rubio would be Trump’s best possible pick — far more than any other individual potential candidate.
For Republicans, though, the responses were a mix of serious suggestions and despair over Trump’s decision-making process and his odds in the November election.
Gingrich, who left the House after the 1998 midterm elections and unsuccessfully sought the GOP presidential nomination four years ago, emerged as the narrow favorite.
“He’s intimately knowledgeable how Congress works and has a keen understanding of how to push the Executive Branch,” said a Florida Republican, who, like all respondents, completed the survey anonymously. “Speaker Gingrich also brings the conservative credibility that should assuage some of the establishment class which is licking their wounds after being squeezed and beaten for the past year.”
“He is excellent on his feet,” added a Virginia Republican.
Rubio, who has said he isn’t interested in being Trump’s running mate, was the second choice.
“Rubio understands public policy, he’s smart, has great legislative experience, he’s young, good looking and Hispanic – and women like him,” said a Colorado Republican.
“Trump also needs Rubio’s expertise with regard to the politics,” a Wisconsin Republican added.
Rubio would be the strongest choice for Trump, Democratic insiders said, though they are confident the youthful Floridian won’t join the ticket.
While this recent survey is in no way indicative of who Trump may pick, it does suggest that Gingrich could help unify the Republican Party, especially when many of them are concerned about Trump’s conservative credentials.
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