Veepstakes 2016: How Trump, Clinton vet running mates

(AP photos)

WASHINGTON (MEDIA GENERAL) — Nary a day passes without freshly churned speculation over who will wind up as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s 2016 running mates.

If elected officials—or even an NBA team owner like Mark Cuban—have appeared next to the presidential candidates at some point in the last six months, they’ve no doubt been mentioned as possible vice presidential picks. At this point, it’s unlikely that anybody—including Trump and Clinton—knows whose names will be printed on the ballots come November.

Historically speaking, running mates are selected just a few days before the political parties’ national conventions.

Mitt Romney secretly chose Paul Ryan on Aug. 5, 2012, and announced on Aug.11, forcing the Wisconsin Republican to dash through the woods behind his home to avoid reporters staked out in front.

Sen. John McCain famously plucked Sarah Palin from Alaskan obscurity, speaking to her about the job only once by phone before making an in-person offer four days later.

Pres. Barack Obama decided on Joe Biden as his second-in-command while on a week-long Hawaiian vacation, just a few days before announcing.

It’s no wonder that reporters haven’t successfully firmed up the veep-stakes victors yet; insiders probably don’t have real info to feed them.

For simplicity’s sake, the most frequently mentioned names are listed below, in alphabetical order:

Donald Trump

  • Former Gov. Jan Brewer, Arizona
  • Gov. Chris Christie, N.J.
  • Sen. Bob Corker, Tenn.
  • Sen. Joni Ernst, Iowa
  • Gov. Mary Fallin, Okla.
  • Former Speaker Newt Gingrich
  • Sen. Rob Portman, Ohio
  • Gov. Rick Scott, Fla.

Hillary Clinton

  • Sen. Cory Booker, N.J.
  • Sen. Sherrod Brown, Ohio
  • Sec. Julian Castro, U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development
  • Sen. Tim Kaine, Va.
  • Sec. Thomas Perez, U.S. Dept. of Labor
  • U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, Vt.
  • U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Mass.

Trump’s son-in-law is rumored to be spearheading the GOP candidate’s efforts to vet potential running mates. Team Trump is bare-bones and reportedly highly disorganized, so the orderliness of the vetting process is questionable.

Meanwhile, Clinton must determine whether she will prioritize bringing in Sanders supporters with a left-wing populist figure like Sen. Warren, or establishing trustworthiness by adding a well-known, steady hand from a swing state, like Sen. Kaine.

The process of vetting possible running mates is far from an exact science, but generally includes:

  • Sifting through financial disclosures
  • Checking out opposition research
  • Investigating conflicts of interest
  • Examining past votes
  • Running down interview and speech transcripts
  • Conducting face-to-face sit downs to test interpersonal chemistry

Odds are that the campaigns are in the end stages of the selection process now, zeroing in on the few most promising names. Clinton will need someone who can forcefully defend her against Trump’s impending attacks. Trump needs someone who can smooth his splintered edges with voters often shocked by his unvarnished style.

It will all come out in the wash soon enough. As the next few weeks speed toward the DNC and RNC conventions, however, expect rapid-fire speculation and around-the-clock media stakeouts to kick into overdrive.

Follow Chance Seales on Twitter: @ChanceSeales

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