It's a time-honored tradition for politicians to deny any interest in the vice presidency. But this year, with the possibility of Donald Trump as the Republican nominee, they really mean it.
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"Never," said Chris Schrimpf, a spokesman for Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, who is still running against Trump, the front-runner in the nomination race. "No chance."
"Hahahahahahahahaha," wrote Sally Bradshaw, a senior adviser to Jeb Bush, when asked if he would consider it.
"Scott Walker has a visceral negative reaction to Trump's character," said Ed Goeas, a longtime adviser to the Wisconsin governor.
Or, as U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina put it, "That's like buying a ticket on the Titanic."
A range of leading Republicans, including Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina and Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, have been emphatic publicly or with their advisers and allies that they do not want to be considered as Trump's running mate. The recoiling amounts to a rare rebuke for a front-runner: Politicians usually signal that they are not interested politely through back channels, or submit to the selection process, if only to burnish their national profiles.
But Trump has a singular track record of picking fights with obvious potential running mates, like Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who has indicated a lack of interest in the vice presidency generally and has yet to reconcile with Trump publicly. Haley and another potential pick, Gov. Susana Martinez of New Mexico, have sharply criticized Trump at recent party gatherings and don't want to be associated with his sometimes-angry tone, according to advisers and close associates who have spoken with those Republicans.
Several Republican consultants said their clients were concerned that Trump's high unfavorable ratings with all voters and his unpopularity among women and Hispanics could doom him as a general-election candidate and damage their future political prospects if they were on his ticket.
Still, elected officials have a way of coming around to the vice presidency, and Trump said in an interview Saturday that he was in the early stages of mending fences and building deeper relationships with leading Republicans. And in a sign of growing acceptance that Trump is their likely nominee, several Republicans made it clear that they would join him on the ticket because they think he can win, or because they regard the call to serve as their duty.
Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, as well as Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, said in interviews that they would consider joining the ticket. Two governors, Chris Christie of New Jersey and Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, have also told allies that they were open to an offer.
"If a potential president says, 'I need you,' it would be very hard for a patriotic citizen to say no," Gingrich said. "People can criticize a nominee, but ultimately there are very few examples of people turning down the vice presidency."
A Section on 05/01/2016