When President George H.W. Bush faced an uphill reelection fight in 1992, aides discussed ways to change the political calculus and give his candidacy a much-needed boost.

Now, Donald Trump faces a comparable situation and a similar option.

In the case of Bush, several top advisers, including the candidate’s future presidential son, concluded that one way to bolster his prospects would be to replace Vice President Dan Quayle with a new running mate, possibly popular Gen. Colin Powell.

But it didn’t happen. Famously loyal, Bush refused to abandon his 1988 running mate. And his strategists concluded a change might anger conservative Republicans more than it would attract additional independent support.

Their reluctance explains why it’s been 44 years since a presidential nominee switched running mates. And that was an unusual situation in which an unelected president, Gerald Ford, dropped his unelected vice president, Nelson Rockefeller. It’s been 76 years since an elected president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, successfully replaced his elected vice president, Henry Wallace, with Harry Truman for his fourth term bid.

But that history hasn’t stopped periodic speculation over replacing running mates, from Lyndon Johnson to Joe Biden. So it’s hardly surprising that there has been speculation that one way for President Donald Trump to improve his lagging reelection prospects would be to ditch Mike Pence, his almost obsequiously loyal vice president.

One reason would be to counter the fact that Biden, his November Democratic rival, plans to pick a female running mate, and very possibly a minority woman. Trump could replace Pence with former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.

So far, a month before Republicans formally nominate their ticket, there is no outward sign of a change. Trump has repeatedly said he plans to keep the former Indiana governor, who helped him solidify support from religious conservatives in 2016. Republican campaign materials and ads tout both. Besides, no vice president has been more loyal than Pence.

But for Trump, unlike Bush, loyalty is often a one-way street. He’s prone to make instinctive decisions. And given the degree of turnover in the Trump administration, few would be stunned. After all, Trump has had four chiefs of staff and four national security advisers, and he’s made many other changes. About the only non-family members besides Pence who have survived in his inner circle are 2016 campaign manager Kellyanne Conway and policy adviser Stephen Miller.

For several years, speculation about replacing Pence has centered on Haley. The daughter of Indian immigrants, she served as Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations before leaving on her own terms in late 2018. Though she displayed some independence during her tenure, she has refrained from criticizing her former boss and made a number of supportive comments. Just last week, she tweeted she was “proud” of what she called Trump’s “selfless leadership” in canceling the GOP’s Florida convention sessions.

Haley wrote a book about her tenure but has generally kept a low profile, presumably planning a possible presidential bid in 2024, whether or not Trump is reelected. She is hardly unique but would almost certainly stand out in what would likely be a field of mostly white men.

Replacing Pence with Haley could help Trump broaden the GOP ticket’s appeal beyond the president’s base. The danger is that replacing Pence might upset religious conservatives, who have been among Trump’s strongest supporters. Still, the president’s record of naming conservative judges and supporting other issues favored by religious conservatives might reduce his need for Pence this time.

While it’s always hard to turn down a president, it is questionable if being on Trump’s ticket would help the former South Carolina governor’s future prospects, especially if Trump can’t dig himself out of his current electoral hole. While it’s often written that a good performance on a losing ticket can help in a future presidential run, history rejects that theory.

The last losing vice presidential nominee who won the presidency was Roosevelt, a 1920 vice presidential loser who became a 1932 presidential victor. And the only other losing VP nominee in the last century who later won his party’s presidential nomination was former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole, a VP loser in 1976 and a presidential loser in 1996.

Though Haley is the most obvious possible Pence replacement, Trump could also pick one of his loyal congressional supporters, like House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, or Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley.

Cotton, another likely 2024 GOP aspirant, is running unopposed for reelection in November. And Arkansas passed a law that would enable him to appear on the November ballot as both a candidate for reelection and a candidate for vice president.

That’s like the Lyndon Johnson Law that enabled the then Texas senator to simultaneously win both a third Senate term and election as John Kennedy’s vice president in 1960.

All of the prominent prospective Pence replacements are younger than Trump, who is 74, and Pence, who is 61. Still, as the GOP convention nears, the odds remain that Donald Trump’s running mate will again be Mike Pence.

Carl P. Leubsdorf is the former Washington bureau chief of the Dallas Morning News. Readers may write to him via email at: carl.p.leubsdorf@gmail.com.

(28) comments

Brookhawk

The GOP doesn't have anyone to replace Pence with. There is not a soul in that party right now who could improve things, and if there were one, he/she wouldn't run with Trump. Anyone who would be his running mate would be too nuts to vote for.

Greg F

Both trumpdimwit and Pence DeLeon are repulsive. Replace with Ghandi if he were alive and the ticket would still rival a sewer plant in stench.

matts853

Here’s Trump’s legacy as already written:

Impeached

One term

Epic failure to manage a pandemic needlessly resulting in 100s of thousands of deaths

Major economic recession

Massive uneomlyoment

Wasted billions on a wall that will never be completed

Worsened race relations

Election interference

Strengthened the positions of foreign adversaries, especially Russia

Here’s what’s left to be seen post term:

Tax fraud

Treason with respect to nefarious dealings with Russia

Dwasserba

"Besides, no vice president has been more loyal than Pence." Yes. Such adoring stares only a cocker spaniel can approximate. Gag.

DickD

Niki would never be the bootlicker that Pence is. Trump may not have any loyalty to his supporters but he does love bootlickers.

MRS M

Bootlicker? That's very close, but not what we call Pence at our house. Too bad it's both obscene and, unprintable. Yeah, he's a real slavish man of "great principle"....a politician so willing to grovel that he was took "leadership" of the Covid Task Force? America has seen how that worked out for Trump's bobblehead.

DickD

I would love to know what you call Pence at your house. I thought bootlicker was bad. [whistling][whistling]

matts853

Just like he quit on Covid, Trump has already admitted he’s going to lose. Never, ever in the history of a presidential election has a candidate, let alone an incumbent, conceded an election before it happens. His primary campaign strategy now is too sell a lie that the election will be a fraud, so he can invent a constitutional crisis and hold onto power through the courts. It’s unconscionable that he would even suggest delaying the election until his chances improve. If he’s willing to compromise the integrity of our elections then he’s willing to compromise anything, which he’s already proven capable of doing and rightfully impeached for it.

In summary: we have an impeached first term president running for re-election that he’s already preparing to lose and who’s signaled loud and clear that he will stop at nothing to hold onto power.

This is how America was made great again???

MRS M

I personally like Jim Jordan. No, wait. Louie Gohmert. I don't believe Haley would dirty her hands, or political future, on this one, although the great dealmaker might entice her with a promise to resign. Look, he's an old, tired, beaten man, waiting to get back on the 'course and out of "the dump" as he called the White House.

tonyc51

" he's an old, tired, beaten man. " Excellent description of Joe.

matts853

Hah! Too funny, Tony. Trump is the one who’s beaten. He’s already conceded the election, which is why he’s been sowing unfounded seeds of doubt in impressionable minds that it will be a fraudulent election, and why he floated that completely Un Constitutional idea of delaying the election until whenever he thinks his chances will improve. Is this really your guy? A man so desperate to hold onto power that he’s setting the stage for a constitutional crisis the likes we’ve never seen before.

Sorry, but the only fraud in the election is Donald J. Trump.

tonyc51

Matt: " so desperate to hold onto power that (s)he’s setting the stage for a constitutional crisis the likes we’ve never seen before." Sounds like what the democrats did following the loss of Hilary to trump. So what you are prognosticating is happening, has already been done by Hilary and the democrats, and what you so clearly are saying in your post " the only fraud in the election is Donald J. Trump". [lol][lol][lol][lol][lol]

matts853

Hillary and the Dems never suggested delaying the election, nor did they ever challenge the results it in court - which Trump is likely do. So I’m going to say you don’t know what you’re taking about it. Oh, and nor did they ever invite foreign interference to cheat in election. Trump jasnakee Russia, Ukraine, and China to investigate Hillary and Biden. You need to take your partisan blinders off.

matts853

And Tony, please tell me when a president has ever tacitly acknowledged defeat 3 + months out from Election Day. He’s going to lose and he knows it and his pathetic desperation is growing daily. So buckle up because you ain’t see nothing yet from him.

You know there’s only one way out of the White House for him and that’s in defeat and disgrace. A one term impeached president losing to a man he despises after selling out to a foreign nation for assistance in defeating him. Trump through his lifetime hubris and corruption has laid the foundation brick by brick for a coda of epic failure. He hates to lose, and he will do so without dignity or grace because he was never taught any of those virtues. His personality is unsuited for politics and he was in over his head from the beginning. He cheated and conned America into voting for him once but his proven himself to be a selfish buffooon and we won’t make the same mistake twice.

[lol][lol][lol][lol]

tonyc51

Matt" "You need to take your partisan blinders off." If I am wearing blinders, you have gone blind) I hope not, but you are unable to see anything outside of the democrat echo chamber. It is extremely obvious that the democrat talking points appear in almost all democrat sycophants posting here.

matts853

Tony, I’ve been a registered republican my whole life. I usually vote republican, but not for this guy this time or anyone that follows him. I’m a rational and objective enough person to know when enough is enough of this foolishness.

You can wish upon a star and click your heels together all night long, it won’t change the fact that what you refer to as “talking points” are the truth.

phydeaux994

Tony, at least the Democratic sycophants were defending the defensible, the Republican sycophants are defending the indefensible.

Dwasserba

Even if that were true, I'd take it. Yep. Wait...let me think. Yep.*Hail* yeah.

MRS M

Biden, too, is old. That's about the only characteristic he shares with trump. And, America realizes that. But you go ahead, Tony, declare your undying support for Trump and vote for him again. We won't think any less of you. (LOL here).

DickD

Mrs. M, give us a bench mark so we will know if it goes lower

SMH. No, don't bother that isn't possible.

Greg F

Tonybalony...so...what do you call Trump? Old sadsack lying, illiterate, bought, putin-bootliking sack of excrement stuck to the bottom of a moldy shoe....that's appropriate. Pency? Mama's boy cult-dwelling christo-fascist, science-ignorant, wimp? Anything more, I'd doubt they'd let this stay up.

Greg F

OH...I forgot pornstar-paying for Trumpydumb. Pence wouldn't get near another woman....without mother's permission....so he's got that.

public-redux

“... might entice her with a promise to resign.”

Haley isn’t so stupid that she would believe a Trump promise.

DickD

She is a smart lady, but that decision not to believe Trump doesn't call for intelligence.

awteam2000

I would like to see Kanye West on the ticket.

elmerchismo1

Replace a sphinx with a dodo: real good move.

threecents

I doubt Haley would take the job, but Trump would have no problem dumping Pence and blaming Covid-19 on him if it could help him get re-elected. I think it is more likely that Trump will choose a Fox News personality, a Kardashian, or one of his kids.

matts853

Hannity would be a great pick. He’s already mastered lying for Trump so there will be no learning curve.

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