It’s not too early to feel sorry for Donald Trump’s future running mate. The VP pick will have to explain and defend Trump’s frequent changes in issue positions — and Trump’s role in some absurd and scandalous stories.
Let us enter the Trump Zone to see how his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, is faring with his interviews of possible Trump mates.
Corey Lewandowski: Why should we pick you?
Newt Gingrich: I’m an idea man. I can be the intellectual that Mr. Trump needs for credibility.
Lewandowski: Perhaps you’re not aware of our campaign slogan.
Gingrich: “Make America great again”?
Lewandowski: No. “Let Trump be Trump.” He is the idea man — that is the whole idea.
Gingrich: Well, I’m not saying he should change, but --
Lewandowski: The veep pick must amplify whatever Mr. Trump says. Let’s pretend I’m a reporter. Answer me this: Your candidate’s butler of 30 years was exposed as a racist who threatened to kill the president of the United States. The butler must have shared such thoughts with Trump. Does this reflect on Trump’s ability to hire the best people?
Gingrich: No. That was an aberration.
Lewandowski: Don’t use words like aberration; it sounds like you’re trying to be intellectual. Let’s try another media question. Trump has been backing off his demand for the U.S. to ban all Muslims. Now he says it was just a “suggestion,” that he’s “flexible.” Is he becoming a typical politician?
Gingrich: No. He’s a man of conviction, but --
Lewandowski: Don’t say “conviction.” He’s never been convicted of anything and with that Trump University trial for fraud coming up, we’re avoiding all legalese.
Gingrich: What if I said: “Mr. Trump is innocent; the butler did it!” You know, that old joke.
Lewandowski: Not funny. And in this campaign, only Mr. Trump gets to be entertaining. Next!
Mike Huckabee: Thanks for considering me.
Lewandowski: Let’s see how you’d answer questions from a reporter. There is an audio tape of someone claiming to be a PR flack for Trump, back when he was 46 and a playboy. But this “John Miller” sounds like Mr. Trump — even using his favorite words, and boasting about Trump in a Trumpian way. Trump denies it was him, even though he admitted posing as his own flack in his tabloid days. What do you think — does your candidate have multiple personalities? Is he lying about it?
Huckabee: I haven’t heard the tape, but --
Lewandowski: You can’t say that because then they would play it for you, and you’d have to lie about it not sounding like him.
Huckabee: What if I said, “Mr. Trump denies it, and so that should put the matter to bed”?
Lewandowski: Don’t say “put it to bed.” The whole audio interview is about who he’s sleeping with.
Huckabee: What if I said, “This is ridiculous, talking about an old tabloid story in the '90s”?
Lewandowski: You can’t say that. We’re making an issue out of Bill Clinton’s affairs in the ‘90s.
Huckabee: What if I said, “That audio tape could have been doctored. It could have been words from Trump interviews that were edited so it sounds like him”?
Lewandowski: No! Trump has already said it doesn’t sound like him. You can’t contradict Mr. Trump.
Huckabee: What if I said, “We are looking for the real John Miller, but until we find him we’re going to stick to the real issues — like that National Enquirer story about Ted Cruz’s father and Lee Harvey Oswald”?
John Kasich: I appreciate being considered, but wouldn’t picking me backfire after my saying that Trump’s mass deportation idea was crazy?
Lewandowski: He might be backing off that idea, anyway. Let me play “gotcha.” What if a reporter asked you about Mr. Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns?
Kasich: Hmm, that could be tricky since Trump called on Mitt Romney to release his taxes when he ran in 2012. Let me think… (Pulls a sandwich out of his coat pocket, starts eating it while pondering.)
Lewandowski: Is that a Reuben?
Lewandowski: It’s dripping on your lap...
Kasich: (Wipes mouth with sleeve, resumes eating.) Hmmyehhmmthanks.
Lewandowski: Lightbulb idea! What if you ate like that, stuffing your face, any time a question was asked that you didn’t want to answer?
Lewandowski: (Phoning Trump) I think we’ve got our running mate!
Todd Domke is a Republican political analyst and regular contributor to WBUR Politicker. He tweets at @ToddDomke.