Even before billionaire developer Donald Trump became the presumptive nominee in the wake of his big win in Tuesday's Indiana primary, his campaign has been engaged in a "full throttled" process to select a vice-presidential running mate, a source close to the campaign tells Newsmax.
Trump revealed to the New York Times this week that he is forming a committee to select a running mate. He said Ben Carson will be a member of the committee.
A source close to the campaign tells Newsmax that the former neurosurgeon has taken a lead role in Trump's review process to create a select list of finalists.
Carson and Trump have become "like brothers" since the former presidential candidate endorsed Trump, the source said. The pair are constantly on the phone, and the low-key Carson has been a calming influence on Trump, whose temper can be, at times, mercurial.
The campaign is mum on who is making the final cut.
But one candidate is definitely out of consideration, that's Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, the source said.
In the past several weeks, Rubio was quietly "lobbying for the job," two sources told Newsmax.
Last night, in an interview with Trump, Fox News's Bill O'Reilly floated the idea of Rubio in a ticket he called "Big Don and Little Marco."
Trump quickly responded, "I would certainly consider him."
But then he brushed him off: "But we do have a lot of candidates I think that would be very, very good," Trump said.
Trump and his team had seriously eyed the senator. The "Trump-Rubio" scenario became real as a contested convention loomed. If Trump fell short by a handful of votes in the first ballot, Rubio's 157 delegates might have put Trump over the top.
The campaign had even begun polling Rubio delegates to see if they would vote for Trump on a second ballot, provided it was for a Trump-Rubio ticket. The delegate responses were quite positive for Rubio, one source said.
With no convention floor fight now expected, Trump's high command decided that Rubio "would not be a good fit" for several reasons.
Rubio would likely not woo Hispanic-American voters in large numbers. Rubio also lost his home state primary by a large margin to Trump, creating doubt that Rubio would help Trump carry Florida.
"If Marco had won Florida like Kasich won Ohio, it would be a different story," the source said.
The senator himself admitted to Newsmax in January of 2015 that he might have a difficult race had he sought re-election in '16 because Florida, in his words, "is a tough, competitive state."
Trump also feels the junior Florida senator doesn't have the experience he wants to see in his vice president, credentials that might offset Hillary Clinton's likely charge that Trump is not knowledgeable enough about the federal government.
Carson himself has been touted as a vice presidential candidate. As the lead VP selection person, is he out of consideration?
Carson has said he does not want the role, but the source reminded us of the "Cheney effect."
While Carson lacks government experience, he does attract African-American voters. Trump's campaign strategy will be to steal a small percentage of these voters in key swing states. Picking an African-American like Carson may help accomplish this.
In the 2000 campaign, George W. Bush tapped Dick Cheney to head up his vice presidential selection committee. In the end, all other candidates were eliminated and Cheney himself was chosen.
So a Trump-Carson ticket "should not be ruled out," the source said.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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