Here's why an expert on running mates thinks J.D. Vance will be Trump's V.P. pick

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- On Wednesday, the candidate former president Donald Trump picks as his running mate will headline the Republican National Convention's third night at Fiserv Forum.

The three reported finalists for vice presidential nominee are Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, North Dakoka Gov. Doug Burgum and Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance.

Christopher Devine, an associate political science professor at the University of Dayton, has written two books on the impact running mates have on a ticket.

Devine said vice presidential candidates can influence voters by providing a boost based on geography or demographics. For instance, a running mate night help deliver their home state, while a woman or candidate of color might rally voters who see themselves in the V.P. nominee.

However, Devine said those affects tend to be minimal. A more significant impression the running mate leaves is as a reflection of the presidential candidate's judgement.

"Who they pick tells you something about their priorities in politics," Devine said. "It tells you about how serious they are in terms of the decisions that they make."

Devine said a V.P. nominee is most impactful when the presidential candidate isn't particularly well-known, pointing to the 2008 campaign when voters who didn't closely follow politics probably didn't know much about either Barack Obama or John McCain.

He said polling showed voters thought less of McCain's judgement after he picked Sarah Palin as his running mate. Palin, and her series of speaking gaffes, contrasted with Obama's running mate, then-longtime Senator Joe Biden.

This time around, voters have almost universally formed opinions of President Biden and Mr. Trump. Devine said, in this campaign, Mr. Trump's choice will illustrate what he would value most in a second presidential term.

"Whether Donald Trump is really serious about governing this time around," Devine said. "Or is he, as he said at some points, interested in retribution? Is that the prime motivation?"

Republican strategist Bill McCoshen said he was still holding out hope Trump would pick Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin.

"I think he puts not only Virginia in play, but New Hampshire and Maine," McCoshen said. "And potentially other states, including Wisconsin."

While McCoshen's first choice is 'none of the above,' he said of the three reported finalists, he favored Rubio, followed by Burgum. McCoshen said he was least impressed by Vance, citing a lack of political and business experience. Vance was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2022 after having never before held public office.

"If the president chooses him, it's because he's a loyal ally, and that happens a lot in politics," McCoshen said. "But I don't think that adds to the ticket."

Devine said Vance's devotion to Mr. Trump is the reason he believes the Ohio senator will ultimately get the nod.

"J.D. Vance, I think, is the likeliest pick because, in my assessment, I could be wrong, Trump's top priority would be loyalty," he said.

Devine said he believed the former president will place allegiance above any other trait because of the way his first term ended. While former vice president Mike Pence stood at his side throughout his presidency, Devine said Mr. Trump will remember how Pence did not accept his order to overturn the election and instead ratified the electoral votes for President Biden on January 6, 2021.

"[Trump's thought process] would be to pick someone, I assume, who is more loyal than Mike Pence," Devine said. "Someone who, as I would describe it, is not just loyal but something a little more than that. Words like subservience or fealty come to mind here."

Julia Azari, a political science professor at Marquette University, said during any presidential cycle, there's potential for friction as the V.P. nominee defers to the presidential candidate while still making a name for themselves.

With Mr. Trump, Azari said there's an additional challenge of a candidate who may not always act or adopt positions that align with much of the party.

"I think that's part of the challenge of being a vice presidential candidate and being a vice president," she said. "You always have to really toe the line of the ticket. What makes Trump different is not that element. What makes Trump different is the substance of the things he is asking his running mates to do and potentially sign onto."

Mr. Trump on Wednesday told Fox News Radio "it's a little bit of an issue" Burgum signed a near-total abortion ban into law as North Dakota's governor. Guided by the Trump campaign, the 2024 GOP platform delegates will vote on next week takes a softer tone on abortion.

The platform language, which specifically opposes "late-term abortion" and calls for leaving the issue for individual states to decide, has rankled pro-life groups.

As for when the announcement will come, McCoshen said he hoped it was not until Monday at the earliest, after the convention opens. McCoshen's reason is so much of the national political conversation is on whether Mr. Biden is fit to serve a second term, so there's no reason for Republicans to distract from that before the convention.

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