WATERTOWN — It seems my unsolicited campaign advice from a few months ago has been discarded!
In January, I opined that President Donald Trump would bolster his re-election campaign enormously by naming U.S. Rep. Elise M. Stefanik as his vice presidential running mate. His decision to transfer his legal address from New York to Florida made me suspect he had this in mind.
The U.S. Constitution limits members of the Electoral College to voting for either the presidential or vice presidential candidate if both live in the elector’s state of residence. So having a party ticket with candidates from different states avoids this problem.
Vice President Mike Pence has served Trump fairly well since they took office. Known for his devotion to Christianity, Pence enhanced the Trump campaign’s credibility among evangelicals during the 2016 campaign, which helped put it over the top in the election.
But Trump’s hardcore supporters are with him no matter what, so Pence’s value has diminished. Many Christians who supported Trump four years ago have bought into his game hook, line and sinker. They no longer need Pence to vouch for Trump for them to back the president.
This amuses me to no end. Astoundingly, Trump once told a roomful of Christians that he doesn’t believe he’s ever done anything that requires God’s forgiveness.
I’m not sure how someone could come off as more opposed to the key tenant of Christianity than this. But despite Trump’s frequent immoral behavior, many Christians have convinced themselves that he’s actually a prophet. Go figure!
Therefore, it’s reasonable to ask what Pence contributes to the 2020 ticket. Since many Christians are with Trump no matter what, the vice president’s standing in the campaign as a true believer has become irrelevant.
Enter Stefanik. In my January column, I wrote that she much more than Pence represents the future of the Republican Party. So putting her on the ticket makes sense in how she would benefit the campaign.
She’s become one of Trump’s staunchest defenders over the past two years. And when she was selected two weeks ago to accompany the president to his rally in Tulsa, Okla., Forbes magazine made a similar argument to mine.
“For a president who is laser focused on media appeal, Stefanik is a sure winner. Her frequent presence on television during Trump’s impeachment hearings shows she is not afraid to step out and be a surrogate for the president even when others won’t,” Seth Cohen wrote in an article for published June 20 by Forbes. “Second, the president is in dire need of a boost to his appeal with women voters. Recent polling shows the president trailing the Democratic candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden, by a significant margin, particularly among women. Stefanik’s appeal then is not only her politics but the fact that she is an up-and-coming female leader in the Republican Party that desperately needs more female faces in its leadership ranks.
“With Biden having already announced that his running mate will be a woman, it wouldn’t be surprising if Trump — who is the epitome of politically unconventional — decides he would benefit from a female running mate as well. And while Mike Pence has been a dutiful vice president for Trump over the last three and half years, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Trump, who is notorious for his catch-phrase ‘You’re fired,’ to blame his administration’s woeful pandemic response on Pence, who [led] the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force. Pence has also been noticeably quiet of late as the president comes under immense criticism for not only the pandemic response but also for his response to the protests that have swept the nation in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Stefanik, for her part, has been outspoken about the need to root out racism in America but has notably avoided attending Black Lives Matters protests in her home district.”
In addition, Stefanik will face an uphill battle over the next few years in her ongoing effort to remain a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. New York will lose one or two congressional seats based on the lower population that will surely be documented in this year’s census.
Democrats in Albany will control the redistricting process, and they’re salivating at the prospect of diluting Republican voting strength in the 21st Congressional District. So seeking another elective office may be Stefanik’s best option at this point. If she runs with Trump and he wins, she’ll be in a great position to run for president in 2024.
But, alas, Stefanik threw cold water on this proposal.
“That’s fake news, Sean,” Stefanik told Sean Spicer on June 25 during his “Spicer & Co.” program on Newsmax TV. “I love Mike Pence. America loves Mike Pence. I am proud to be a surrogate for the Trump/Pence ticket. I am running for re-election in New York’s 21st District, which is just a true privilege and honor to be able to represent my congressional district every single day in the United States Congress.”
Well, launching a career as a political consultant will have to wait. And I won’t hold my breath waiting for the invoice sent to the Stefanik campaign to be returned with a check!
Jerry Moore is the editorial page editor for the Watertown Daily Times. Readers may call him at 315-661-2369 or send emails to email@example.com.