Donald Trump’s Secret Weapon
What can Trump do to “unite” the party he so disrupted? How can he gain access to its influential resources as well as compensate for his lack of political experience? How can he win in November? The secret weapon lies in his choice of vice president.
Donald Trump is weak in foreign affairs, has no experience in government, has alienated minorities and women, and must attract substantial financial support to fund a competitive campaign. It is one thing to finance a battle for nomination in which his novelty and marketing acumen resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars of free media coverage. It is an entirely different thing to contest a general election against the powerful and savvy Democratic Party and Clinton’s political machine. Since Hillary is one of the most unpopular, most disliked presidential nominees ever, Trump might select a vice president who could play off of the public’s negative sentiment for Hillary and neutralize her alleged strengths.
In short, Trump should seek the partnership of a stylish, smart, highly educated, and politically experienced woman — Condoleezza Rice. At a time when many people are justifiably feeling fatigue after the primaries, Condoleezza is a fresh face, having been neither active nor visible in politics over the last several years — and not at all engaged in the recent presidential nomination. She has extensive experience, having held appointments in three administrations, including service as the National Security Advisor and Secretary of State (2005–2009). Beyond that, she was the first woman and first black person to serve as Stanford’s Provost. As the senior Stanford academic and budget officer from 1993 to 1999, she directed 1,400 faculty members while managing competing interests, dealing with resource constraints, making tough decisions, and getting things done.
Ms. Rice’s strengths in international affairs complement and counterbalance Trump’s experience deficit vs. Hillary in terms of international politics and foreign policy.
Having served in the Bush administration, her presence on the Republican ticket would appeal to establishment Republicans. As the Bush family reportedly has great affection for Ms. Rice, they would most likely strongly support the Trump-Rice ticket.
By selecting a prominent, experienced, and articulate African-American professional woman as his vice president, Donald Trump could go a long way to rehabilitating his divisive standing with minorities and women. As the vice presidential nominee, Condoleezza would shift the conversation.
Many who would not otherwise vote for Trump might be inclined to vote for a ticket with Condoleezza as his vice president. Moreover, many women would be drawn to back her. Men would be attracted by her sports interests as well as her competence. She is a keen football fan — so much so that she never misses a Super Bowl. Sports are a significant factor for many of Trump’s supporters, as well as in the African-American culture, so her involvement and enjoyment of sports would be a distinct advantage in the election.
In particular, Trump will need to pay attention to a few key states. Accounting for the most electoral votes, California is pivotal in presidential elections. If a candidate wins California, he or she can make it to the White House by carrying just over 40% of the remaining electoral votes. But if a candidate loses California, he or she has to gain nearly 60% of the remaining electoral votes. While Democratic presidential candidates have carried California during the last six elections, a strong sports-oriented, highly accomplished Stanford professor who happens to be an African-American professional woman would be very appealing to California voters.
Even if a Trump-Rice ticket were not to prevail in California, with her as his running mate, Trump’s election prospects would be greatly improved. Condoleezza’s presence on the ticket would mandate that Hillary spend considerable resources to ensure winning California’s electoral votes — a very safe state that Democrats count on for its massive electoral influence.
With Ms. Rice at their side, the Trump candidacy could claim the distinction that Trump’s presidency would be the first in history to put a woman, an African American woman, and an entrepreneur in such high office in the White House.