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Exit Clear

Screw It, Let’s Rank Trump’s VP Options

Donald Trump speaks at a press conference while Governor Chris Christie looks on in horror. Steve Sands / Contributor

Donald Trump speaks at a press conference while Governor Chris Christie looks on in horror. Steve Sands / Contributor

Donald Trump, a real presidential candidate and the actual presumptive nominee of one of America’s two major parties, needs to find himself a vice presidential candidate. Because no matter how confusing America is in 2016, Trump needs a man or woman with whom he can share a ticket, and we all just have to come to terms with that.

Let Playboy humbly offer a list of some of the names that have been written up on the bathroom wall along with Trump’s. They are listed in order of likelihood, though you’re welcome to shuffle them around in order of horror, if you like.


Experience: Governor of one of the most mocked states in the union, formerly a U.S. attorney, which he is always happy to mention.
Why He’s Perfect for Trump: He’s an enforcer, a hard-ass with a reputation for straight-talk. With him around as VP, Trump can look better and classier. New York to Christie’s Jersey.
What We Can Expect When a President Trump is Inevitably Impeached: Bridges blocked out of spite and criminal justice reform halted; 9/11 mentioned at every turn and used to justify every bit of foreign policy.
Redeeming Qualities: He helped prevent a Marco Rubio presidency. He commuted the sentence of this guy.
Likelihood: High, if only because a mean politician like Christie wouldn’t have become quite so cowed if there wasn’t something in it for him. So it’s either VP or attorney general for Christie. Both are disturbing prospects.

Mike Pence, official portrait, 112th Congress
Experience: Governor of Indiana, a credible-sounding state. Governors may have fallen hard during the initial GOP race, but they still have that pedigree. He was also a Congressman for more than a decade.
Why He’s Perfect for Trump: He appears to be worse than Trump, thereby making Trump look awesome.
What We Can Expect When a President Trump is Inevitably Impeached: A vigorous drug war and a crackdown on immigration, a renewed national hatred of LGBT people and strong attempts to take their rights.
Redeeming Qualities: If you like fiscal conservatism, he’s highly rated by the kind of people who rate fiscal conservatism.
Likelihood: Middling-high. It may be tempting for Pence to take that chance, but state law might require that he pick between running for his gubernatorial re-election and climbing on the Trump ticket. Still, Pence appears to enjoy being courted by the campaign.

Newt Gingrich by Gage Skidmore 3
Experience: Battled Bill Clinton in Congress, did lots of fiscal conservative things during his 20-year time there.
Why He’s Perfect for Trump: Gingrich hasn’t done much lately, but making money in the private sector is a Donald-approved activity. He has a reputable, tough conservative reputation that might quiet some Trump naysayers on the right.
What We Can Expect When a President Trump is Inevitably Impeached: Newt is a former American Enterprise Institute fellow, which tends to heavily correlate with a desire to bomb everything.
Redeeming Qualities: The man who decades before pushed for the death penalty for drug dealers now thinks criminal justice reform is important and that white Americans can’t understand the black experience. So, he’s improving.
Likelihood: Middling. It’s just not easy to picture Gingrich as VP when he’s so 1990s. Though the number of ex-wives on that ticket would be impressive. Added bonus: Fox News won’t let Gingrich be a contributor until it’s sure he won’t be Trump’s pick, so, take your time, everyone.


Michael T Flynn
Experience: Lt. General who is super jazzed about the war on terror and believes it will take another generation to fight. Former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, which might explain why he’s not on Twitter.
Why He’s Perfect for Trump: If Trump wants to up his military cred, and his hawk credentials, a tough general is ideal. Plus, Flynn is technically a Democrat, making a bipartisan ticket a cool throwback selection.
What We Can Expect When a President Trump is Inevitably Impeached: War. Lots and lots of war for many years. Possibly torture, but the nice kind.
Redeeming Qualities: He’s pro-choice, oddly enough. He’s also fine with gay rights.
Likelihood: Middling. His name is being repeated, but Flynn is both out there and pragmatic, and Trump needs someone with more broadly conservative flair. Plus, Trump reportedly wants a politician.

Jeff Sessions official portrait
Experience: A low-key senator from Alabama who was “Trump Before Trump” as Politico put it.
Why He’s Perfect for Trump: Trump and Sessions just keep flattering each other back and forth on trade and immigration, so he’s not an ideologically diverse pick.
What We Can Expect When a President Trump is Inevitably Impeached: Immigration crackdowns and an end to free trade agreements and basically Trump with sincerer social conservatism, and potentially even more warmongering.
Redeeming Qualities: His full name is Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III.
Likelihood: Low-Middling. Makes some sense, but an ego like Trump’s probably doesn’t want to share the billing with a man who is so similar to him but with more political experience.

Governor John Kasich
Experience: He’s the governor of Ohio, a state that is important to elections. Was in Congress back when Newt Gingrich and his boys were running the place in the 90s.
Why He’s Perfect for Trump: He could be the good cop to Trump’s bad cop. And maybe Trump can keep the one-liners coming when Kasich eats sloppily.
What We Can Expect When a President Trump is Inevitably Impeached: A gently condescending, fiscally moderate nation that doesn’t outright hate anyone but passes plenty of bad laws.
Redeeming Qualities: Comes off nicer than he actually is, a decent talker, even when being off-the-cuff. Could be worse on criminal justice reform.
Likelihood: Low, though he’s so very vice presidential that it feels like someone should pick him.


Tom Cotton official Senate photo
Experience: Shiny new senator who served in Iraq, making him look credible when he is a huge hawk.
Why He’s Perfect for Trump: Again, actually worse than Trump on so many issues, therefore makes Trump look good.
What We Can Expect When a President Trump is Inevitably Impeached: A socially conservative smoldering wreckage.
Redeeming Qualities: None.
Likelihood of being selected: Very low. Cotton appears to have been a fleeting suggestion mentioned a few times. Because hope never truly dies, my fellow Americans.

UPDATE: On Wednesday night, Trump tweeted that he will tell the world the identity of his VP choice on Friday at 11 AM. Place your final bets, ladies and gentlemen.

Lucy Steigerwald is a contributing editor for Twitter: @lucystag.

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