Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is now the leading candidate to be tapped by Donald Trump as his running mate, a close confidante of Trump tells Newsmax.
On Tuesday, Trump told the AP that he has whittled down his choices to 5 or 6 names.
"I have a list of people that I would like," Trump revealed in his interview Tuesday.
But the name that keeps cropping up as his favorite is Gingrich, a Trump confidante tells Newsmax.
Trump has tapped former presidential contender Ben Carson to help pick his running mate. Carson said Tuesday that he is stepping down from that post to focus on the Thursday meeting between Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan. Trump also announced this week that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will head his transition team.
Trump is said to favor Gingrich for several reasons.
First, Trump recognizes he is a Washington neophyte and sees in Gingrich someone who can school him in the legislative process and “make nice” with Capitol Hill.
Trump admitted to the AP he wants a running mate who can help him "with legislation, getting things through."
As Speaker, Gingrich successfully got Bill Clinton to sign legislation abolishing welfare, while agreeing to budget constraints that led to the first balanced budgets in a generation.
Trump has other reasons he is leaning toward Gingrich. He is said to personally like him. Rubio, Newsmax reported, has already been eliminated though he lobbied through surrogates for the job. Rubio has denied doing so.
Trump also finds Ohio Gov. John Kasich “kind of quirky” and not someone he resonates with, the confidante said.
Trump is apparently discarding the traditional approach of picking a running mate to provide geographic or ideological balance to his ticket. Instead he wants someone he “can live with for eight years,” the Trump source said.
This concept of a “simpatico ticket,” while rare, occurred when then-Gov. Bill Clinton of Arkansas turned to then-Sen. Al Gore of nearby Tennessee to run with him in his successful 1992 bid for president.
Though Gingrich did not endorse Trump, the Fox News commentator was an early defender of Trump in the GOP primary.
In addition, they pointed out, Gingrich helped organize a key meeting of Washington insiders for Trump that included former House Appropriations Committee Chairman Bob Livingston, R.-LA, and Heritage Foundation President and former Sen. Jim DeMint, R.-S.C.
“Donald values loyalty,” the source said, and Gingrich has been loyal.
Trump told the AP that he also is looking for a candidate who has held office and been under the public microscope.
"For the most part, they've been vetted over the last 20 years," he explained to the AP.
Gingrich has had such vetting, and survived a bitter, though unsuccessful run for president in 2012 against Mitt Romney.
Gingrich is also considered one of the best communicators in the party, and Trump is placing great emphasis on who can go toe-to-toe against Hillary Clinton’s running mate in upcoming debates.
Trump’s camp also is also said to be worried that his move to the center, already underway, may alienate conservative voters.
Gingrich remains a popular “Reaganite” – and could re-assure these voters if Trump takes positions not in line with party orthodoxy, the source said.
Newsmax queried Gingrich if he has been in discussions with the Trump campaign about the VP slot.
He offered a terse email reply: "No."
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