While many high-profile Republican leaders around the country have struggled in embracing Donald Trump as their nominee, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad is all-in. So much so that he’s even offering up Iowa’s own Senator Joni Ernst as Trump’s potential running mate, saying he’ll personally press Trump on selecting her.
Senator Chuck Grassley joined the chorus today, saying he thinks Ernst’s military background would help Trump’s shortcoming in that policy area.
Does Ernst really have any chance of becoming Trump’s Vice President nominee? If you’ve been paying any attention at all to the 2016 campaign, you’d know that anything’s possible.
Here’s our best guess as the main reasons why Ernst would – or wouldn’t – be chosen by Trump:
5 Reasons Why Ernst Will Be Trump’s Vice President Nominee:
1. Trump’s Gut Decisions: Moreso than any rational reason for why Ernst should be selected, it could easily come down to Trump’s in-the-moment feeling about her. Can’t you imagine a scene where Trump is sitting at his desk in Trump Tower, a stack of files with VP candidates’ vetting materials next to him. He starts to flip through them, gets bored, and pulls up the video of Ernst’s “Make Them Squeal” ad. He laughs and says, “You’re hired.”
2. Ernst is Dynamic, Not Crazy: Joni Ernst holds many of the qualities people liked in Sarah Palin: a relatively younger woman, plain-spoken, attractive (but would she be a Trump 10?), a flair for fun dramatics. But she isn’t undisciplined like Palin. Ernst could bring a lot of excitement to the race with little of the risk.
3. Ernst Helps Trump With Suburban Women: Republicans are looking at the potential for an electoral wipeout thanks to Trump’s horrific standing among women. Ernst might help soften that image by providing a strong female leader that Republican-leaning women could be happy about voting for.
4. Her Military Background: Ernst is the Senate’s first female combat veteran. She’d bring some military credibility to Trump’s bid, even if it doesn’t come from years of being on a foreign relations committee. She might be able to tamp down the concern that Trump would wantonly start wars around the world over perceived sleights.
5. Ernst Secretly Wants To: Why would anyone want to attach their rising star to a Trump candidacy that could end in epic failure, tarnishing their reputation forever? Because many ambitious people realize you need to strike when the iron is hot, not cautiously wait until the time is absolutely, 100% perfect to move. Ernst seems to understand that – why else would she accept the tricky role of giving the GOP response to Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech in 2015 a mere two weeks after being sworn in? She also held off on endorsing this year in the Iowa Caucus despite being close with Marco Rubio. Was she keeping her options open for a Vice President pick?
Ernst probably knows this opportunity may not come again – may as well take it and risk the potential consequences. Because if you win, you’re the Vice President of the United States. Not bad for a few years shy of being the Montgomery County Recorder.
5 Reasons Why Ernst Won’t Be Trump’s Vice President Nominee:
1. It Would Be The Most Unexperienced Ticket In Forever: A Trump-Ernst run could very well have less federal elected experience in all of American history, less than the Democrats’ 1904 Alton Parker-Henry Davis ticket (Eisenhower-Nixon was short too, but Eisenhower was a five-star general). Trump can buck the trend better than anyone, but will he really test it to that extent when there’s plenty of other viable options?
2. Trump’s Masculinity Would Be Challenged: Ernst got her fame thanks to an ad where she’s cutting off an animal’s balls. What in Trump’s demeanor would make you think he’d be comfortable around someone like that? Plus he’d probably think her bread bag shoes were low class.
3. Trump Holds A Grudge Against Iowa: This is just my own personal hunch. Trump let go nearly all of his top Iowa Caucus staffers after coming in second in February, despite leading the polls. I think he’s still mad at Iowa and meant what he said when he joked that he’d never return to Iowa if he lost. An Iowa VP may be off the list. This actually could be why Branstad is coming out so strongly for Trump – he wants to smooth things over with the nominee so he competes hard in Iowa and provides resources here, thus helping down-ballot Iowa Republicans.
4. Iowa’s Not Important Enough For Trump’s Map: For Trump to win this November, he needs to do some pretty creative things with the electoral college map. Putting working-class Michigan or Pennsylvania or Wisconsin in play, along with their many more electoral votes, could swing his choice. Ernst would help in the Midwest, but there’s others like Scott Walker that could better swing a particular state.
5. Joni Ernst Wouldn’t Really Want It: Maybe she has some forward-thinking sense. It’s more likely than not that Trump’s candidacy will be a total catastrophe this November. Ernst would be a laughing-stock and could lose her reelection in 2020. There’s ambition, and then there’s madness.
by Pat Rynard