US Elections 2016

Trump's V-P finalists meet the family for final vetting

Indiana Governor Mike Pence is seen as the lowest-risk option among Mr Trump's vice-presidential prospects.
Indiana Governor Mike Pence is seen as the lowest-risk option among Mr Trump's vice-presidential prospects.

Republican presidential hopeful set to announce choice of running mate tonight

NEW YORK • Stranded in Indianapolis after an aircraft malfunction, Mr Donald Trump did what any gifted showman with a national campaign to run would do: He brought the presidential circus to him.

Mr Trump, who is approaching a self-imposed deadline for selecting a running mate, met throughout the day on Wednesday with three finalists for the position - including two, Mr Newt Gingrich and Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, flown in solely for that purpose.

A third candidate, Governor Mike Pence of Indiana, huddled at his home on Wednesday morning with Mr Trump and his children Donald Jr, Eric and Ivanka, and son-in-law Jared Kushner.

In a scene more reminiscent of television entertainment than a standard presidential campaign, a crush of reporters monitored Mr Trump's departure from Mr Pence's home, and the comings and goings of vice-presidential prospects from Mr Trump's hotel throughout the day.

In some respects, the display resembled a late-season episode of a television dating show, in which various suitors meet the family of their prospective spouse in a taxing final test of compatibility and commitment.

At least one vice-presidential contender approached the moment with a degree of light-heartedness. Mr Gingrich, when asked why he was in Indiana, acknowledged he was going to meet Mr Trump's children.

Mr Trump's sudden series of back-to-back conversations with vice-presidential finalists gave at least the impression of indecision, with little time left on the clock to make his choice.

On Wednesday, Mr Trump posted on Twitter that he would announce his running mate at 11pm tonight Singapore time, just ahead of the Republican convention in Cleveland, which begins on Monday.

In addition to the three candidates, Mr Trump also spoke by phone with Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, the leader of Mr Trump's transition team, who has also been vetted as a potential running mate.

Among Mr Trump's advisers, Mr Pence is seen as the lowest-risk option: A stolid if unspectacular choice, helpful for locking up conservative votes and perhaps boosting Mr Trump's appeal across the Midwest.

Even as Mr Trump's political advisers have largely rallied around Mr Pence, there remains considerable affection for Mr Gingrich within the Trump family, particularly from Ms Ivanka Trump and her husband, Mr Kushner.

Mr Trump may be merely reviewing his list of options one last time before making up his mind. But to some Republicans who have observed him up close in recent days, Mr Trump has also appeared genuinely uncertain of the best course forward, and perhaps even of his own preferences.

Meanwhile, the authorities in Cleveland have announced the city would be fully secure for next week's Republican National Convention after they tweaked security operations following the murder of five Dallas police officers.

However, Mayor Frank Jackson and Police Chief Calvin Williams said they would abide by Ohio's open-carry laws that would allow gun-toting members of the public into areas near the convention site where Mr Trump is set to be officially nominated to become the Republican candidate.

The potentially heated scenario comes as dozens of groups, many with opposing views of Mr Trump, have signalled they will descend on downtown Cleveland and, in some cases, may even share park space, blocks from the convention.

The city has banned a long list of other items from a wide zone around the convention centre, including knives, aerosol cans and even tennis balls.

"Dallas was a wake-up call for a lot of people," Mr Williams said.

NEW YORK TIMES, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 15, 2016, with the headline 'Trump's V-P finalists meet the family for final vetting'. Print Edition | Subscribe