Long time Democratic aide and former Bill Clinton staffer Paul Begala told the AIPAC conference that it is a “certainty” that Donald Trump will remove Vice President Mike Pence on July 16 when the Democratic nominee is scheduled to give his acceptance speech at the Milwaukee convention. Begala says the president will replace Pence with former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley “to try and get those suburban moms.”
The former “Crossfire” co-host “guaranteed” Trump will throw Pence “under the bus” because of his handling of the coronavirus, which the president tapped Pence to lead a task force on last week.
“This is not a prediction. It’s a certainty. On Thursday, July 16 — that’s the date the Democrat gives his or her acceptance address — on that day, to interrupt that narrative, Donald Trump will call a press conference at Mar-a-Lago. He’s going to dump Mike Pence and put Nikki Haley on the ticket to try to get those suburban moms,” Begala predicted during a panel discussion at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) conference in Washington, D.C.
“You watch. Guaranteed,” Begala said. “Trump put Pence in charge of coronavirus to throw him under the bus.”
Begala is supposed to be some kind of expert. Either he’s been asleep or just hasn’t been paying attention for the last three years if he’s going to use the words “certainty” and “Donald Trump” in the same sentence.
This is not the first time that Haley’s name has been floated to replace Pence. Haley denied it most recently last November.
“The vice president and the president are a great ticket together,” Haley told “Fox & Friends” in November. “They’re solid. Solid enough that they’re going to win together. There is no truth whatsoever that I would ever in any way look to get that position. I think Mike is great for that job and I think that he’s the right partner for the president.”
“Mike Pence is a great vice president,” Trump said in November, while noting Haley would “absolutely” be involved in his 2020 campaign.
Trump admires Haley. She’s one of the few people who actually stood up to Trump and maintained his goodwill.
But it’s not going to happen. Chris Cillizza writing at CNN sees where Begala is going but dismisses the Pence-for-Haley scenario.
Now, I see where Begala is coming from here. He’s absolutely right that Trump is, at heart, a showman and provocateur. And that Trump likes nothing more than drawing attention away from his opponents to ensure the spotlight is shining on him. And that if Trump likes anything more than being the center of attention, it’s freaking out the squares — doing something wildly unpredictable that no one saw coming.
Except, in this case, everyone saw this coming. It’s been discussed ad infinitum in the media. It’s said that Trump himself brings up the subject of replacing Pence with Haley on occasion.
Now, doing it just before the Democratic nominee goes on stage to deliver his acceptance speech is no doubt “wildly unpredictable.” And it would be just like Trump to troll the nominee and make earth-shaking news at the same time.
But even with all that said, it’s still a verrrry long shot. Like very long.
Here’s why: Trump cares deeply about perception. And projecting an image of utter certainty and strength. A last-minute swap-out of your vice president because you think you can’t win without someone new is the exact opposite of that message. It suggests weakness and, even worse, panic.
That’s how the media would spin it, anyway. Trump could probably win in 2020 running with Bozo the Clown, given the circumstances.
Begala is a pretty smart politico, but he really goofed it up here.