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Monday, April 15, 2024

SELLERS: Vivek Ramaswamy Has Earned a Hard Look for VP Nod

'He woke up a lot of people this way and garnered a lot of support, which he has now transferred to Trump via endorsement...'

(Ben Sellers, Headline USA) Former President Donald Trump last week made big news when he said he had already selected his running mate during a town-hall discussion opposite the CNN-sponsored GOP debate.

The Iowa caucus-winner and presidential frontrunner appeared to walk back the remark ahead of Monday’s first nominating contest, indicating that the selection had not been fully discussed with his team.

However, the remarks both raise the temperature on speculation and, to some extent, give it closure—even though Trump’s pick remains a mystery to the public at large.

If Trump’s decision is made, there is not a lot of practical purpose for columnists to write at any great length in favor of one candidate or another in the hopes of somehow reaching the right set of eyes and moving the dial in a different direction.

Still, there is something that must be said in recognition of the unique role that Vivek Ramaswamy has played in the 2024 GOP campaign, and with the news that he appears now to be bringing his run to a close, some recognition is due, whether it is the nod as Trump’s running mate or not, to one long rumored to have been in the mix.

THE MAGA SURROGATE

After Ramaswamy dropped out of the race on Monday, following his fourth-place finish in the Iowa caucus, he offered his endorsement to Trump.

The former president, who had bashed Ramaswamy ahead of the contest, in turn offered praise to the businessman.

“He did a hell of a job,” Trump said. “He came from zero and he’s got a big percent, probably 8%, almost 8%. And that’s an amazing job.”

Yet, it’s safe to say that, in spite of his rhetoric to the contrary, Ramaswamy—who usually presented himself as the smartest guy in the room and the most closely allied candidate with Trumpian values—was wise enough to know that vice president was the position he was running for all along.

In effect, his true function in the primaries was to be a surrogate MAGA candidate and not allow the Nikki Haley faction to take control of framing the GOP narrative as it saw fit, while still allowing Trump to stay above the fray.

“Vivek’s job was to be the Trump stand-in and articulate Trump’s agenda effectively to a broader audience that have been turned off by Trump himself,” wrote Substack blogger Clandestine.

“He woke up a lot of people this way and garnered a lot of support, which he has now transferred to Trump via endorsement,” Clandestine continued. “Vivek did his job and I hope he can find himself a role in the Trump administration, because he is as sharp as they come and I am excited about him in the future if he proves he is for real.”

‘A PITCHER OF WARM PISS’

The vice presidency has often been given a bad rap for being a largely ceremonial position.

John Nance Garner, who served as vice president under Franklin Delano Roosevelt, famously told fellow Texan Lyndon B. Johnson that the office of the vice presidency “isn’t worth a pitcher of warm piss.”

But like FDR’s final running mate, Harry Truman, Johnson would go on to accept the post serving under President John F. Kennedy only to become president himself three years later when Kennedy died in office.

Conventional wisdom dictates that the vice president serves either as the mentor or de-facto leader to a more figurehead president (e.g. Dick Cheney to George W. Bush); as the buffoon or comic relief to a president with more gravitas (Dan Quayle, Joe Biden); or as a sort of sidekick whose main purposes are “to inquire daily as to the health of the president, and … to attend the funerals of Third World dictators,” in the words of former Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

Trump’s first pick, Mike Pence, undoubtedly filled the latter role.

In most every case in the modern presidency, though, the vice president has brought something to the table, politically speaking, that the president himself lacked or could not otherwise deliver.

Those criticized for their lack of experience tend to go with an elder statesman who knows the ins and outs of D.C.

Sometimes, a president whose base constituency leans to a particular demographic or geographic region will seek out balance to, say, clinch a crucial swing state.

Another crucial criterion is that a vice president not upstage the front-man, as McCain found out by choosing Sarah Palin for his ticket in 2008. Unfortunately, this has led to a succession of candidate with underwhelming charisma.

And, of course, morbidly but realistically, one never wants to select somebody who would give left-wing extremists an incentive to seek out regime change—as would, say, a coalition ticket of some kind.

NOT ANOTHER PENCE

Trump seemed to stick with many of these principles in his selection of Pence, who helped to assuage religious conservatives and others with reservations about the Manhattan mogul’s moral fiber.

But four years later, it was Pence who was on the outs with many of those same people for turning a blind eye to the 2020 election irregularities that no courts or secretaries of state had been willing to fully examine and audit prior to certifying the results.

Pence’s own presidential run last year proved to be a stunning failure, amassing large amounts of debt before becoming one of the first candidates to exit the race as his positions proved to be increasingly out-of-touch with the attitudes and values of GOP voters.

By contrast, Ramaswamy—with the exceptions, perhaps, of only Trump and Tucker Carlson—has become one of the leading ambassadors of the America First movement, which has come to dominate the GOP. It’s no surprise that Carlson, after signaling that he had no interest in the VP spot, came out in favor of Ramaswamy.

In many ways Ramaswamy is a better speaker than Trump himself at articulating the MAGA worldview. Time and time again, he has deftly dominated the media, running circles around their attempts to lay rhetorical traps and gotcha moments, and oftentimes successfully putting the questioners themselves on the defensive for their radical ideology.

Of course, some may worry that in seeking someone too similar to himself, Trump loses the benefit of using the running mate position to expand his voting base.

It is simply impossible, however, to imagine Trump selecting as his second-in-command someone who is not perfectly in sync with his own vision, and several factors bring that even farther to the forefront.

The first is that many—including Trump himself—see some of his poor staffing selections as the greatest failure of his first term. He’s pledged to use more prudence in his second-term selections.

“I’ve been through it. I know the good people, I know the bad people. I know weak people and strong people,” he said during a speech last June in Greensboro, North Carolina. “I know the people that are losers that we don’t want, I know the people that are winners that a lot of people don’t know or understand.”

A WORTHY SUCCESSOR

Trump’s age, although not as old or feeble as the current president and possible Democrat challenger, is also an important consideration for a running mate.

Whether his successor would potentially fill the remainder of his term or not, Trump certainly needs to anoint a successor to his movement who can begin to construct a vision for America’s future once the existential battle for its survival has been fought and won.

Ramaswamy’s youth makes him an obvious choice for the task, and while identity politics may be anathema to conservatives, his brown skin certainly doesn’t hurt the movement’s efforts at expanding its outreach and building on the inroads that Trump has made in that direction.

One final question, then, that remains is whether Ramaswamy could potentially upstage or outshine Trump. Here, however, Trump has proven to be a uniquely adroit figure.

Although Ramaswamy may be able to form craftier and more complex arguments, Trump’s uncanny ability to connect with his supporters has continued to defy all conventional logic and boils down to nothing more than the man himself and the cult of personality that surrounds him.

He is a larger than life figure at this point, reaching mythic proportions due to the significance the the leftists and their media allies have conferred upon him.

In a way, he could let his second term operate much as his campaign has thus far, coasting on his mythos, staying largely above the fray and allowing Ramaswamy to be his man on the ground doing the heavy lifting.

Ben Sellers is the editor of Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/realbensellers.

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