Former U.S. Representative Greg Ganske has a guest column in today's Des Moines Register making the case for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich as Donald Trump's running mate. Gingrich has been unofficially auditioning for the job lately. Ganske argues that Newt has the qualities that Trump has said he's looking for: someone with "a strong political background, who was well respected on the Hill, who can help me with legislation, and who could be a great president."
Although Governor Terry Branstad is pushing Senator Joni Ernst to be Trump's running mate, several well-known Iowa Republicans would probably be as thrilled with a Trump-Gingrich ticket as Ganske. Iowa House Speaker Linda Upmeyer was Gingrich's first high-profile endorser here in 2011, when she was Iowa House majority leader. State party chair Jeff Kaufmann also supported Gingrich before the 2012 caucuses, when Kaufmann served as Iowa House speaker pro-tem. In December 2011, Gingrich picked up support from several more GOP state lawmakers, including then Speaker Kraig Paulsen and rising star Chris Hagenow, who is now House majority leader.
While Gingrich has never struck a chord with me, he seems like a perfect match for Trump, and not only because he has the policy knowledge the presumptive Republican nominee lacks.
They both love running up expenses and sticking other people with the bill.
Trump's companies have exploited bankruptcy laws several times, and he made headlines in recent days for suggesting that the U.S. might be able to pay back some debts at less than 100 cents on the dollar.
They both mix politics and business.
Trump has used some of his appearances as a presidential candidate to promote branded merchandise.
The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a Federal Election Commission complaint in 2011 after the Washington Post reported "the Gingrich campaign had paid Newt Gingrich $42,000 for the use of his personal mailing list." The complaint "also asked the FEC to investigate whether Gingrich Productions illegally subsidized Mr. Gingrich’s presidential campaign by holding campaign events in conjunction with his book signings." The FEC finally resolved that matter in March of this year, and as Sarah Wheaton reported for Politico, the regulatory body "dismissed the campaign’s $47,005 payment to Gingrich himself as essentially an accounting error rather than an improper payment." The Gingrich campaign filed a "miscellaneous document" in March discussing the reporting error, blaming it on "a software load issue."
They both ignored the advice of more experienced political hands while running for president.
Gingrich's entire paid Iowa staff quit in June 2011, fed up with his lazy approach to campaigning, gaffes, and inept damage control. At that time, Ganske stepped up to be Gingrich's finance chair here, offering brilliant advice such as stop taking chartered planes you can't afford. That wisdom didn't go over well, because
They both enjoy big spending on luxury items.
Trump flaunts his wealth like no other politician in modern American history. My favorite example is still the time he bragged about owning a building that's worth more than Mitt Romney.
Gingrich has been known to spend lavishly on "classy" items like Tiffany's jewelry worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. He also developed an expensive private plane habit during his years leading the conservative group American Solutions. That group raised a lot of its money through fake opinion polls, a practice considered unethical in the market research industry.
They both know how to handle political journalists.
Trump has managed to get a tremendous amount of free media coverage of his rallies and press conferences, far more than any other presidential candidate in recent memory. Even considering that Trump was a celebrity before the campaign began and has led most Republican polls since last summer, the outsize attention he receives in political news coverage is remarkable. In addition, Trump has been able to phone in to various shows that require other guests to appear in person.
Ganske notes that Newt is also "media savvy," and I have to agree. More than a decade after leaving Congress, Gingrich got himself booked on NBC's "Meet the Press" more times than any other politician in 2009. During the 2012 presidential campaign, Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum managed a few more appearances on those shows than Newt, but unlike those onetime front-runners, Gingrich is still an occasional guest on the Sunday morning circuit.
They've both traded in two wives for younger models.
Trump plans to make President Bill Clinton's infidelities an issue in the general election campaign against likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, an odd strategy for a candidate who's on his third marriage.
Gingrich has a similar marital history, which Ganske admits could be a problem.
Are there downsides to picking Newt? Sure, Newt has been married three times, but now to Callista for 16 years. I suspect that the late night comedians will joke about the multiple marriages of both, but I see both Mrs. Gingrich and Mrs. Trump as bright, accomplished women and think they will be assets on the campaign trail and help Trump's image with women.
Most Americans have voted for candidates who have been divorced or been unfaithful to their spouses, so clearly this issue won't be a deal-breaker for everyone. But Gingrich would be a particularly awkward sidekick. He presided over the House Republicans' march toward impeaching Clinton despite an ongoing affair with the woman who is now his wife.
Bottom line: a Trump-Newt match makes more sense to me than Trump-Ernst.
Any speculation about the Republican ticket is welcome in this thread.
UPDATE: Florida Senator Marco Rubio has ruled out running for vice president.
“While Republican voters have chosen Donald Trump as the presumptive GOP nominee, my previously stated reservations about his campaign and concerns with many of his policies remain unchanged,” he said in a statement to CNN. “He will be best served by a running mate and by surrogates who fully embrace his campaign.” [...]
“I have never sought, will not seek and do not want to be considered for Vice President,” Rubio said.
Former Texas Governor Rick Perry would consider being Trump's running mate. Although Perry delivered some warnings about Trump's candidacy when he ended his own presidential campaign and later became a surrogate for Ted Cruz, he formally endorsed Trump a few days ago.