National Review Online‘s Ramesh Ponnuru is out in front with some establishment wishful thinking: Donald Trump can choose John Kasich as his running mate to “help Trump get the nomination, and be his running mate for the service?”
Help Donald Trump how? With his 5% of the delegates? With a stirring endorsement, referring to his mailman father? Trump has not succeeded thus far in the election—nor in becoming a billionaire in business—by negotiating from a position of weakness (e.g., like Jeb Bush in choosing a spouse), which is what picking Kasich in a gambit to pick up his votes would amount to.
A Trump choice of the already-vanquished Chris Christie would be a stronger signal, because he would not be trading any delegates, bur rather choosing someone for his perceived fit on the issues or general-election electability.
We think it’s more likely that Trump will double-down on his advertised appeal by picking another outsider. If we wins a wide victory in the primaries, why wouldn’t he stay the course? (Alex Pappas at The Daily Caller has some good ideas.) Ben Carson is conceivable (though we hope not, as, like Sarah Palin before him, a baffling lack of knowledge, and apparent lack of curiosity, about world affairs would not bode well for his fitness to be commander-in-chief).
We could see Trump choosing Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz in the event that he enters the convention with a plurality but not a majority of delegates, to prevent the two of them from teaming up to deny him the nomination, which would be likely. We hope that he would find a way to make it Cruz to maintain credibility on immigration and anti-establishment positioning.
The New York Times‘ Ross Douthat raises a scenario that is somewhat more plausible on the surface: that Marco Rubio could employ a similar tactic and pick Kasich. Rush Limbaugh says that this possibility is the only reason why Kasich is staying in the face. Of course, the same point about Kasich’s lack of electoral value in the primaries holds; it seems implausible that Kasich’s delegates could tip the balance in a race between Rubio, Cruz, and Trump, or that his endorsement at some point before all of the primaries are complete would sway voters significantly.
The big problem with a Rubio-Kasich ticket would be the massive “screw you” that it would convey to the anti-establishment voters who will have given Trump and Cruz a lot of votes. It would be saying, “frustrated voters, we heard you loudly and clearly, just like we always do.” A lot of them would stay home in November.