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Morning Glory: Trump’s veepstakes is close to wrapping up

OpinionMorning Glory: Trump’s veepstakes is close to wrapping up

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“I’m calling it,” declared Commentary Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief John Podhoretz on the magazine’s Monday podcast. Podhoretz then went on to detail at some length, egged on by Commentary’s Washington columnist and American Enterprise Institute senior fellow Matt Continetti, as to why North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum would be former President Donald Trump’s running mate. They received support for their choice from Commentary Managing Editor Abe Greenwald and Commentary culture and arts commentator and another AEI fellow, Christine Rosen, in a very enjoyable meditation on Burgum-mania.  
 
You should listen. Actually, you should follow and rate the Commentary podcast with as many stars as are available on your podcast platform of choice because it is simply the best podcast available on a day-in, day-out, Monday-through-Friday basis. My exercise time is usually immediately following the conclusion of my own broadcast, so my sole complaint about the Commentary pod is it sometimes doesn’t post until half-way through my trundling, which obliges me to go farther and longer than I had intended because I won’t not finish a Commentary pod. (I would also like a weekend edition of the pod to listen to, but none of the really excellent pods except occasionally “Call Me Back” hosted by Dan Senor, post on the weekends.) 
 
The Commentary pod really is a model for other magazines and newspapers. Get your four or five very best talents and throw them on a conference call every morning at around 8:30 and push it out fast. The world needs more serious and funny, smart and well-argued podcasts. Here is your model.  

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That said, I am not so quick to declare Burgum as the running mate for the former president. Burgum is indeed impressive on the stump, comforting to “normie” Republicans, and wealthy. He’s also very, very smart. A formidable entry in the Veepstakes yes, and maybe the favorite today, but not a mortal lock. Did I say very smart? I want to repeat that. If Trump tasked Burgum with figuring out what to do about AI and social media’s destructive effects on the culture, Burgum would come up with constructive, well-reasoned policies.  

Burgum shakes Trump's hand on Iowa stage

Doug Burgum, governor of North Dakota endorses former President Trump, while joined by Kathryn Burgum, North Dakota’s first lady, during a campaign event at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa, on Jan. 14, 2024. (Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

A quick word for four others (and two “not likely but maybe” entrants) in the lists. In alphabetical order of the serious contenders: 

Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton is, like Burgum, razor-sharp smart and knows how to crush left wing media as it comes after Trump or attempts to prop up President Joe Biden. Cotton displayed that last week on ABC when Jon Karl hosted “This Week” and where Karl dropped any pretense of being a neutral journalist. The pro-Biden apologist pattern continued on this Sunday when Margaret Brennan hosted Cotton on “Face the Nation,” and like Karl a week earlier, Brennan wasn’t going to conduct an interview, but rather debated Cotton on PBiden’s arms embargo on Israel.  
 
Cotton dispatched both Brennan and Karl with ease. Harvard trains its lawyers well. Actual combat in Iraq, where Cotton led a platoon during “The Surge,” leaves a senator indifferent to lefty hosts’ attempts to muddle facts and prosecute absurd arguments. Cotton is simply unflappable. This is a skill set Trump values highly: the ability to “do the shows.” Cotton has it, and he’s young, and the “new generation” of leaders argument is a powerful one, not unlike the dynamic that led Ike to tap California Senator Richard Nixon as his running mate in 1952.  

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Nixon had made a mark running the Soviet spy Alger Hiss to ground while in the House, and ran a brass-knuckled campaign to defeat an incumbent Democratic senator Helen Gahagan Douglas in the 1950 California senate campaign. Nixon was a young veteran of World War II, as Cotton is a young veteran of the long wars. The classic role for a VP is to attack, attack, attack. That’s what Ike wanted and got with RN and which Trump may want in his vice president. Cotton knows that battle and has carried it on for a decade inside the Beltway. 

Iowa Senator Joni Ernst is also a warrior — and a woman warrior from the heartland. If the polling shows that a woman on the ticket provides a measurable, enduring advantage, Ernst seems to me to be the best choice open to Trump.  

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is another veteran and a West Point grad to boot (where, as Trump likes to note, Pompeo ranked first in his class of cadets.). Trump knows exactly what he is getting with the former CIA Director and Kansas Congressman (and another Harvard Law grad.) Trump may want Pompeo at Defense or back at State and Cotton as Attorney General or over at DOD. But the old shoe fits the easiest and Trump worked very well with Pompeo for four years and Pompeo kills “the shows” and partisan media with the same effectiveness as Cotton.  

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Finally, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin brings enormous charisma, maybe a shot at carrying light blue Virginia, and a signature issue of huge importance this cycle with his efforts to restore sanity in left-wing public-school districts. Youngkin like Burgum enjoys great wealth. He’s been mentioned a lot by The Great Mentioner too, as has Florida Senator Marco Rubio. I worry that Rubio, unlike Dick Cheney in 2000, lacks a credible claim on any other state residence or that the former president is willing to establish his residency at Bedminster in New Jersey, but we will see. Like Youngkin, Rubio carries with him buckets of charisma to spare.  
 
So listen to the Commentary gang discuss the impressive North Dakota governor, but keep in mind that there are no “mortal locks” in politics, And there is always the dark horse, very surprising choice. (This year that horse is named Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders.) 

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Hugh Hewitt is host of “The Hugh Hewitt show,” heard weekday mornings 6am to 9am ET on the Salem Radio Network, and simulcast on Salem News Channel. Hugh wakes up America on over 400 affiliates nationwide, and on all the streaming platforms where SNC can be seen. He is a frequent guest on the Fox News Channel’s news roundtable hosted by Brett Baier weekdays at 6pm ET. A son of Ohio and a graduate of Harvard College and the University of Michigan Law School, Hewitt has been a Professor of Law at Chapman University’s Fowler School of Law since 1996 where he teaches Constitutional Law. Hewitt launched his eponymous radio show from Los Angeles in 1990.  Hewitt has frequently appeared on every major national news television network, hosted television shows for PBS and MSNBC, written for every major American paper, has authored a dozen books and moderated a score of Republican candidate debates, most recently the November 2023 Republican presidential debate in Miami and four Republican presidential debates in the 2015-16 cycle. Hewitt focuses his radio show and his column on the Constitution, national security, American politics and the Cleveland Browns and Guardians. Hewitt has interviewed tens of thousands of guests from Democrats Hillary Clinton and John Kerry to Republican Presidents George W. Bush and Donald Trump over his 40 years in broadcasting, and this column previews the lead story that will drive his radio/TV show today.

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