From The Washington Post
Donald Trump’s campaign has begun formally vetting possible running mates, with former House speaker Newt Gingrich emerging as the leading candidate, followed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. But there are more than a half dozen others being discussed as possibilities, according to several people with knowledge of the process.
Given Trump’s unpredictability, campaign associates caution that the presumptive Republican nominee could still shake up his shortlist. But with little more than two weeks before the start of the Republican National Convention, Gingrich and Christie have been asked to submit documents and are being cast as favorites for the post inside the campaign. Gingrich in particular is the beneficiary of a drumbeat of support from Trump confidants such as Ben Carson.
A number of senators — including Jeff Sessions (Ala.) and Bob Corker (Tenn.) — are also being reviewed as viable picks, although the extent to which they are being vetted is unclear. A longer shot on Trump’s radar is Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, a heavyweight on the right who could bolster Trump’s tepid support among some conservative activists.
But Pence is immersed in his reelection race and Trump is said to want a more electric politician at his side rather than a low-profile figure. Most of his primary rivals are reluctant to sign on, and tensions with Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) remain raw.
Details of the running-mate search were provided by five people with knowledge of the process who requested anonymity to discuss private conversations with campaign officials.
Gingrich, who said on “Fox News Sunday” over the weekend that “nobody has called me” from the Trump campaign about the possibility of being vice president, declined to comment. Campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks also declined to comment. Christie’s office did not respond to an inquiry.
The contenders under the most serious consideration, such as Gingrich and Christie, have been asked by attorney Arthur B. Culvahouse Jr. to answer more than 100 questions and to provide reams of personal and professional files that include tax records and any articles or books they have published.
Culvahouse, a former White House counsel who is managing the vetting for Trump, was the lawyer who vetted then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for the GOP vice-presidential nomination during the 2008 campaign.
The narrowing list of running-mate possibilities comes at the end of a turbulent period for Trump, who has struggled to raise money since clinching the GOP nomination and has stumbled through a series of self-inflicted controversies, including a racially charged attack on a sitting federal judge and a continuing outcry over his rhetoric against Muslims and other minorities.
The presumptive Republican nominee continues to indicate that he will probably choose someone who could balance his brash populist persona with a political profile that includes deep experience in Washington or ties to the party establishment, the people familiar with the search said.
The timing of Trump’s announcement was for months expected to happen close to the convention. But campaign aides are now discussing moving it up, perhaps to later next week so the ticket can generate headlines and coverage — and win over party leaders — ahead of the party gathering in Cleveland.
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