Donald Trump is in the final phase of his quest for a running mate, and former Georgia lawmaker Newt Gingrich remains one of the handful of finalists still in the running.
Trump spent much of Wednesday in Indiana, where he had breakfast with Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and then huddled with Gingrich, who made a last-minute visit to Indianapolis. (And according to CNN, the flight was arranged by Fox News host Sean Hannity). He also spoke by phone to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the third in the trio of candidates Trump has mentioned as leading contenders.
Some of Gingrich’s advisers remain skeptical of his chances. They note that much of Trump’s inner circle seem to have rallied around Pence, an even-keeled conservative popular with evangelicals. Yet Gingrich remains in the running, and his appeal centers on his political experience, sharp national profile and bruising debating skills.
What is certain is that Trump will announce his decision soon. He plans to debut his new sidekick on Friday, which means word could leak out today. The timing ensures a new round of media coverage ahead of next week’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
Here’s a rundown of what some national reports say about Gingrich’s chances:
“Trump’s gut is Christie,” one source said. The New Jersey governor spent the day in back-to-back meetings in Washington as he leads Trump’s transition team.
Trump spoke of his kinship with Christie, with whom several sources said he talks every day.
“I tell you, Chris Christie is somebody I’ve liked a long time; he’s a total professional. He’s a good guy, by the way, a lot of people don’t understand that,” he said on Fox News.
Former Trump adviser Michael Caputo said Pence fit that bill.
“Not only does he fulfill Trump’s requirement for a running mate with political experience, he also is CEO of a company called Indiana,” Caputo said. “He’s straight out of central casting. He’s a communicator. He gets the message, he stays on messages. And he knows how to reach out to a broad range of America.”
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 Ivanka Trump and her husband, Mr. Kushner.
Mr. Gingrich has been an aggressive advocate for Mr. Trump, and he drew an enthusiastic response at a campaign rally in Ohio last week.
And Sheldon Adelson, the casino billionaire who is among the country’s most prolific Republican political donors, is said to have communicated to Mr. Trump’s camp that he would prefer Mr. Gingrich, according to two Republicans familiar with his views. Mr. Kushner has been Mr. Adelson’s frequent point of contact with the campaign in recent weeks.
At the top of that list is Pence, who has built a rapport with Trump and his family in recent weeks. His political experience and his reputation as a staunch social conservative make him an appealing choice for Trump, who has struggled to win over segments of the hard right and the Republican establishment.
Gingrich, who is considered a finalist, was not aware of the Pence meeting until he saw news reports, according to a person close to the former House speaker who spoke on the condition of anonymity. But he flew to Indiana on Wednesday morning to meet with Trump.
If Pence is the pick, it will come as a relief to Manafort, who is pushing hard for him. According to multiple sources, Manafort has long been opposed to selecting Newt Gingrich to the ticket (and to a lesser extent Christie), believing that the loquacious former speaker would be undisciplined and difficult to manage.
Kushner would prefer Gingrich, according to multiple sources involved in campaign deliberations. That’s at least in part driven by his relationship with GOP mega-donor and Republican Jewish Coalition founder Sheldon Adelson, who is pushing Gingrich, as well as his own antipathy toward Christie.