Donald Trump's Possible Running Mates: The Odds

As Donald Trump increasingly looks like the Republican nominee for president, the question becomes who his running mate will be. Reuters

Updated | Ted Cruz's campaign is donezo. Now, barring some unforeseeable cataclysm, like maybe a micrometeorite smacking him directly in the forehead, Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee for president. Thus begins the scramble for the veep nod.

As The New York Times reported over the weekend, most of the usual suspects don't want the job. For establishment Republicans, appearing on the ticket with Trump is like kissing the feet of a leper. Nobody wants his abysmal approval ratings with women, blacks and Latinos rubbing off on them, especially at a time when all three groups are a growing slice of the American electoral pie. That leaves only a motley crew of political has-beens, never-weres, crackpots, the underqualified and Chris Christie. Though the Times reported Wednesday that he won't announce his pick until July, here's a look at the leading contenders.

The Has-Beens

Newt Gingrich: Unlike most of the Republican establishment, Newton Leroy "Newt" Gingrich has been unabashed in his praise for Trump, leading many to speculate that the former speaker of the House is in the market for a new job. If Trump wants a yes-man, Gingrich is a good pick. But if he wants somebody with solid political experience—and Trump supporters want him to pick somebody with solid political experience—Gingrich doesn't make much sense. True, he's been in politics since before Ivanka Trump was born, but he hasn't held elected office for the better part of two decades. And Gingrich can't help Trump where he's weakest—with blacks, Latinos and women. He may actually harm Trump with women: Gingrich, like Trump, is a serial philanderer, thrice wed and twice divorced. Gingrich began dating his third wife, Callista Bisek, then a house staffer, when he was married to his second, Marianne Ginther. And, like Trump, Gingrich seems to prefer younger women: Trump's wife, Melania, is 24 years his junior, while Gingrich's wife is 23 years younger. The attack ads practically write themselves. 9:1 Odds.

Rudy Giuliani: The former mayor of New York—who saw the city through 9/11 and never fails to bring it up, no matter the context—is another long-in-the-tooth GOPer whose name could use some polishing. Giuliani's career in politics reached its apex in 2001, when Time named him its "person of the year." He may have popped up on Trump's radar in 2015, when he told the crowd at a Republican fundraiser that he didn't believe Obama "loves America"—echoing Trump's racist birtherism. But, like Gingrich, Giuliani has little to offer Trump. For one, they're from the same state—conventional wisdom says to pick a running mate from a different state from the presidential nominee, especially if it's a swing state—and New York is neither. And, like Gingrich, Giuliani has been out of the game too long to count as experienced, especially given that he's never held national office. Plus, he has also been married three times. He could probably have his pick of ambassadorships, though. 39:1 Odds.

Carly Fiorina: The former Silicon Valley CEO, who oversaw the decline of Hewlett-Packard, is on the job hunt again after Cruz, who named her his running mate last week, bowed out of the race following a blowout in Indiana. Now that the senator is out of the race, Fiorina finds herself a free agent again. So why not sign on with Trump? Granted, there's some bad blood between the two: Trump did call Fiorina ugly, and, since she endorsed Cruz, she has said plenty of unflattering things about Trump. But the wind quickly shifts in election years, and they could still make nice. Unfortunately, Fiorina has no governing experience, which is what Trump voters likely want in his running mate. But she could help soften some of Trump's hard edges, especially with women voters, who really, really don't like him. Then again, Fiorina's (debunked) claim that Planned Parenthood was chopping up and selling babies probably didn't earn her any points with women. 9:1 Odds.

The Never-Weres

Joe Scarborough: Morning Joe co-host Joe Scarborough is hands-down Trump's favorite pundit. A former four-term congressman from Florida, Scarborough gave up politics for a career at MSNBC, where he misses no opportunity to lavish praise on the mogul. So, unlike Gingrich or Fiorina, he has held elected office in the 21st century—a plus. In recent months, reports have said that Scarborough's close ties with Trump are a concern among MSNBC executives. But he's not really seen as a Washington insider, and he can better serve Trump as mouthpiece. Perhaps a gig as press secretary would make sense for Scarborough in a potential Trump administration. 39:1 Odds.

Ben Carson: Carson's presidential campaign was a Ponzi scheme, which was something he seemed to realize only near the end of his run. He is a Tea Party favorite whose Seventh Day Adventist faith could help Trump with evangelicals and other typically right-wing religious constituencies who haven't warmed to the candidate as much as they could. And his quiet-man routine complements Trump's brash persona. But he's another who has never held elected office of any kind, and throughout his campaign seemed confused about many aspects of the American system of governance. Not to mention the fact that his buffoonish answers on foreign policy questions left many wondering if we could trust him with the nuclear codes. And, finally, Carson told the Times he doesn't think he has the necessary "government experience" that Trump needs in a running mate. 39:1 Odds.

Sarah Palin: Sure, she basically torpedoed John McCain's presidential bid in 2008, but the former Alaska governor is exactly the kind of pick that Trump would make: unexpected and baffling. Plus, unlike in 2008, all her dirty laundry is public by now. And, in the post-Trump era, gaffes no longer seem to matter. So Palin's hokey, off-the-cuff style probably wouldn't hurt Trump the way it hurt McCain. That said, Palin (still) doesn't have much governing experience, beyond being the mayor of the tiny town of Wasilla and a brief stint as governor of Alaska. But she might be able to help Trump with women, so there's that. 9:1 Odds.

The Also-Rans

John Kasich: As of Wednesday morning, Kasich is reportedly no longer running for president, so he's available if Trump wants him. He would actually be a solid pick for Trump. For one, he's the only Republican who polls favorably against Hillary Clinton. And he has a lot of political experience, which Trump needs. Plus, his down-home, folksy style would complement the New York mogul. The only question is: Would Kasich say yes? He's spent the last several months telling the American people what a lousy president Trump would make. Can he now, in good faith, turn around and tell them that, actually, no, Trump would be a great president? 5⅔:1 Odds.

Ted Cruz: Bad pick. Not only do most people find Cruz unlikeable, but he's spent the last several months calling Trump a "pathological liar," a "narcissist," a "serial philanderer" and "utterly amoral." Trump, meanwhile, has taken to calling Cruz "Lyin' Ted" and insulted his wife. While he softened his tone somewhat when he heard Cruz was dropping out, Trump gains nothing by picking Cruz. Next. 39:1 Odds.

Chris Christie: Probably the only good option Trump has. The New Jersey governor has plenty of political experience, and he famously jumped on the Trump train before the rest of the GOP. Before Trump came along, Christie was known as the most vicious attack dog in the GOP, so he could take some of the heat off the candidate with a few broadsides of his own. And he never explicitly called Trump's character or judgment into question. The downside is that he's from New Jersey, which doesn't help Trump much. And he doesn't do much for blacks, Latinos or women either. But he can definitely go toe-to-toe with Clinton and whomever she picks as her running mate. 4:1 Odds.

The Wild Card

Ivanka Trump: The American presidency should not be inherited, but Donald Trump probably doesn't care. His eldest daughter is one of his closest advisors and makes her father look reasonable by proximity. She's charismatic and would certainly help Trump with the woman vote. She doesn't have any governing experience, but Trump values loyalty over résumé, if his other advisers are any indication. And who's more loyal than children? 3:1 Odds.

Correction: In a previous version of this article, the odds of Trump choosing one of the above mentioned candidates as his running mate added up incorrectly. The odds have since been corrected. Newsweek regrets the error.