For Immigration Patriots, Scott Brown Probably Trump’s Best VP Choice—But There Are Others
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Speculation about Donald Trump’s VP pick is rampant—see here and here. What should immigration patriots want?

From an immigration patriot perspective, there are three considerations:

  • First, reinforcing Trump’s immigration patriot stance.
While Clinton v. Trump provides the first-ever real major-party choice on immigration, we cannot be blind cheerleaders of Trump, and we want to make sure he continues to champion our issue.
  • Secondly, a running mate who will help Trump win in November.
Trump, it goes without saying, is not your conventional GOP nominee. Thus, considerations beyond charisma and ties to a swing state are important. The usual claptrap about the VP “balancing the ticket” does not exactly apply.

Usually, “moderates” pick VPs who will appeal to conservatives and vice versa. But Trump transcends the typical conservative v. moderate Republican template. Trump fared relatively poor among the churchgoing Christians and very conservative voters who typically make the GOP base. He needs to make these voters feel welcome in his coalition, without turning off independent and Democratic voters to whom his socially moderate and economically populist stance could appeal. (In a future column, I will elaborate on this strategy, but it’s also necessary to consider with his VP pick.)

And Trump has other considerations when “balancing the ticket.” Given his age and two previous marriages, a younger and never-divorced candidate would be ideal.

  • Thirdly, the loyal candidate must be loyal.
I could easily see some wobbly and/or conniving politicians distancing themselves from Trump’s more controversial statements if the going gets rough—and even withdrawing from the ticket if they think he will lose. After all, the Bush clan doesn’t seem to feel bound by the loyalty oath all the candidates accepted.

For this column, I’m only going to discuss candidates could potentially be assets to the campaign. And as readers do not need me to explain why we don’t want Marco Rubio or John Kasich, I’m not going to bother rehashing their weaknesses. Nor will I go over every single female or minority Republican to ever hold state-wide office, as many of the potential VP lists are doing. [See e.g. 13 Potential Running Mates For Donald Trump, by Alex Pappas, Daily Caller, May 4, 2016]. Like Trump, rejects Political Correctness!

In alphabetical order:

Scott Brown, former Senator (Massachusetts, now in New Hampshire):

scottbrownPros: Scott Brown was the first former US Senator to endorse Trump, and would be a trustworthy surrogate. Brown is charismatic with a good-looking family, in contrast to the dysfunctional Clinton family. As Trump responded when asked about Brown as a VP in January: “Look at that guy! He’s central casting! A great guy and a beautiful wife and a great family. So important!” [Trump suggests he could pick Scott Brown as his running mate, by James Hohmann, Washington Post, January 16, 2016]

Brown has managed to embrace, and in some cases strengthen, Trump’s strong immigration patriot position while not sounding so bombastic. For example, when asked about whether he supported Trump’s Muslim ban, he said:

No, of course not, but I do support something I think is a little bit more interesting in that we have a broken immigration system … that’s no surprise, right? There’s nothing wrong with putting a hold on all immigration.

[Trump speaks at Sen. Scott Brown’s BBQ, by Adam Sexton, WMUR, January 17, 2016]

As I noted in 2014, Brown manages to appeal to both the moderate suburban soccer moms and white working class voters. He could amplify and expand Trump’s crossover appeal, without compromising the message.

Cons: Brown only won one special election and served half a term in the U.S. Senate before losing two straight elections.

And while Brown’s relatively liberal position on gay rights, abortion and economic issues could complement Trump’s secular nationalist position, it could further alienate Cruz voters.

Ted Cruz, Senator (Texas):

Pros: Cruz would be the ultimate olive branch to the “conservative movement”—Conservatism Inc. Many of Cruz’s supporters are now virulently anti-Trump, and so Cruz on the ticket could motivate them to not only vote, but become activists for Trump. While I have been fairly skeptical of Cruz’s immigration patriot bona fides since he first ran for Senate, he has more or less copied Trump’s immigration platform in this race. Sincere or not, Cruz adopted immigration patriotism for compelling reasons political expediency, so he certainly would stick on message as VP.

Cons: While Cruz will help secure conservative voters, he has absolutely no appeal beyond this narrow demographic, as evinced by his complete failure to win votes outside evangelicals and very conservative voters.

Furthermore, Trump and Cruz have said extremely nasty things about each other during the campaign. While they may be able to bury the hatchet, the Main Stream Media and the Democrats will be asking them to explain their past negative comments about one another forever. Of course, this is not fatal (George H.W. Bush, for example, invented the phrase “voodoo economics” against Reagan), but it could be a serious distraction.

Finally, however, Cruz is so ambitious that he may very well sabotage trump for his own good at some key point in the campaign.

Kris Kobach, Secretary of State (Kansas):

kriskobachfamilyPros: Kobach is, on paper, a perfect candidate. He has impeccable academic credentials with top honors at Harvard, Oxford, and Yale Law School. As an otherwise-critical Associated Press article described him as possessing “movie-star good looks,” and, like Scott Brown, his whole family looks like it’s out of central casting. Despite being in the crosshairs of the Left for nearly a decade, Kobach has managed to avoid any serious gaffes.

Moreover, as a leading immigration patriot intellectual and seasoned debater, who has litigated local and state immigration patriot initiatives at a national level as counsel to the Immigration Law Reform Institute, Kobach would be great at explaining and amplifying Trump’s positions. And although Kobach has made immigration his main issue, he has maintained strong ties with the larger conservative movement and could help bring in those voices.

Cons: While Kobach has won statewide office twice, Secretary of State is not a particularly important position. I can’t name one from any other state off the top of my head.

And while Kobach has not made any major gaffes, he has managed to be subject of a lot of controversy in the course of his fight against illegal immigration, which—while not his fault or damning if he was running for office himself—could lead to expensive controversy if he were a VP pick.

Pat_McCrory_July_2012Pat McCrory, Governor (North Carolina):

I floated McCrory as a possible presidential candidate in 2013. He has been a consistent immigration patriot, who even fought against his own party in a state legislature aligned with the Chamber of Commerce to try to preserve the state’s E-Verify legislation. I noted that McCrory has proven crossover appeal as the former mayor of the relatively liberal and heavily minority city of Charlotte and he has governed as a moderate.

Since 2013, McCrory has become a national figure after signing HB-2, which requires people to use the bathroom of their “biological sex.” By failing to accommodate their psychological delusions, North Carolina has become the center of opposition to the transgender a.k.a. transvestite movement. President Obama threatened to cut off federal aid rock stars and corporations have boycotted the state ,and more conservative states like Tennessee abandoned similar bills due to corporate and MSM pressure. [Transgender bathroom bill dead for year, by Joel Ebert,, April 18, 2016]Nonetheless, McCrory has articulately defended the bill at a national level—in striking contrast to, for example, Indiana’s hapless Mike Pence. See Three Key Terms That Could Have Saved Mike Pence! (And Will Save America).

While the cultural Left may have won the gay marriage battle, letting mentally ill men into women's bathrooms is probably still a bridge too far to most voters. Tellingly, most liberals have tried to tie their opposition to HB 2 to other aspects of the law.

Trump initially waffled on HB-2, but eventually came around. By picking McCrory, Trump could make transgendered bathrooms as a national issue. This might thread the needle of rallying religious conservatives without alienating pro-choice and pro-gay marriage independents.

Cons: The transgendered strategy is risky, as many swing voters may see it as just being “mean” to gays. McCrory’s approval rating has sunk since enacting the law [Civitas poll: McCrory’s approval ratings slump, WNCN, April 29, 2016]. He is in a tough reelection campaign with NC attorney general Roy Cooper.

Moreover, McCrory is still distrusted by conservatives for his other moderate and liberal stances. Thus, while he could rally religious conservatives without alienating swing voters, he could equally plausibly alienate swing voters without rallying the conservative base.

Jeff Sessions, Senator (Alabama):

Pros: Sessions, the leading immigration patriot in the Senate, has been indispensable to Trump’s campaign. He and his then-aide Stephen Miller—who has since become a top advisor to Trump—helped craft Trump’s immigration platform. Like Kobach, Sessions is a talented debater and could add intellectual firepower to Trump’s emotional appeals. He was the first sitting federal elected official to endorse Trump and now leads his official foreign policy team. Sessions has strong conservative credentials, but also takes the Trump position on trade and has come along (from Trump’s standpoint) on foreign policy.

Cons: Although six months younger than Trump, Sessions looks his 69 years. He is not a particularly charismatic. And while he has largely taken typical conservative positions on abortion, marriage, and free markets, his opposition to globalism, free trade, and mass immigration already made him suspect to Conservatism Inc. apparatchiks even before endorsing Trump. Thus, it’s possible he won’t appeal to their followers (if any) or to swing voters.

In addition, it must be remembered that Sessions was the subject of many unfair smears that derailed his confirmation as a federal judge in 1986. For example, on hearing that a local Klan chapter sold drugs, Sessions allegedly joked he thought they were "OK until I found out they smoked pot." [Specter Helped Defeat Sessions In 1986 Judiciary Vote, by Ken Rudin, NPR, May 5, 2009].

As much as I hate to dismiss a great hero over a funny and harmless joke from 30 years ago, the David Duke smear against Trump has not gone away, and so this needs to be taken into consideration.

Jim Webb: Former Secretary of the Navy and Senator (Virginia)

Pros: Jim Webb would add both executive and legislative experience to the Ticket. After dropping out of the Democratic Presidential primary, he has been critical of the party’s obsession with Leftist identity politics rather than the concerns of “millions of dedicated, hard-working Americans,” to appease the “power structure and the money that finances both political parties.” [Jim Webb drops out of Democratic presidential primary, by Dan Merica, CNN, October 20, 2015]

Webb has said he would not support Hillary Clinton, but is open to supporting Trump. [Jim Webb: I won't vote for Clinton, but I may for Trump, By Eliza Collin, Politico, March 4, 2016] His combination of economic populism along with explicit appeals to the white working class will directly contrast Hillary Clinton’s PC-Wall Street agenda—epitomized by her rhetorical question: “If we broke up the big banks tomorrow, would that end racism? Would that end sexism?” [Hillary Clinton, Shifting Line of Attack, Paints Bernie Sanders as a One-Issue Candidate, By Nicholas Confessore And Yamiche Alcindor, New York Times, Feb. 13, 2016]

Cons: Although Webb has now emerged as a leading critic of the Democratic Party’s Leftism, he while in the Senate. Choosing him would infuriate many Conservatism Inc. professionals, but it should also be noted that immigration was another area where he toed the Democratic line.

Overall, of course, Webb’s record might cement the Trump campaign as a complete political realignment. But Webb’s appeal is distinctly limited to the types of working class Democratic and independent voters who would already vote for Trump. Webb does not strongly appeal to the affluent moderate voters, and so it’s possible placing him on the ticket would turn off many conservatives without attracting enough swing voters.

Furthermore, Webb is 70 years old, very strong-willed and may well have difficulty staying on message if he disagrees with Trump.

So who do I personally think Trump should choose?

I would rule out Cruz, Sessions, and Kobach. Cruz has proven himself to be very good at rallying the conservative base of the party, but completely toxic to everyone else. Sessions and Kobach are great heroes, and should have top positions in the Trump administration. However, I don’t think there are many voters who would not vote for Trump because they are unsure of how strongly he will campaign against immigration.

Although a case can be made that Vice Presidential candidates rarely make that much of a difference and just reinforce previous positions, Trump is going to need help expanding beyond his base.

Thus I am leaning towards Scott Brown. More than any other candidate, Brown can appeal to both the affluent moderates and working class Democrats. While he might alienate some conservative ideologues, his election in Massachusetts was the first great Tea Party victory, and I suspect that he won’t cause too many conservatives to stay home who would not already do so.

joniFurthermore, I don’t think Brown’s weaknesses are particularly damning. Yes he lost two elections, but they were both in a Deep Blue and then Blueish state. While he only served half a term in the US Senate, he did also serve 12 years in the Massachusetts state legislature. Compared this to the now-widely touted Joni Ernst, who has served just over a year in the US Senate after less than four years in the Iowa Legislature.

This said, as Trump’s strategy solidifies before the convention, someone like Webb or McCrory may turn out to be stronger choices.

Not much has changed since John Adams wrote “The vice presidency is the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived.”

Nonetheless, a smart pick by Trump could determine whether Trump gets elected president. So immigration patriots must pay careful attention to his decision.

Washington Watcher [email him] is an anonymous source Inside The Beltway.


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