- The Washington Times - Monday, May 2, 2016

Now that most pollsters have Donald Trump on the path to securing the GOP presidential nomination, let’s start speculating who is running mate will be.

Mr. Trump has until the Republican Convention in July to make his choice, but can announce it at anytime.

Given rival Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has already named his running mate, Carly Fiorina, it’s unlikely Mr. Trump will wait until the GOP convention. Plus, he needs to begin to focus on improving his favorability numbers, look to build consensus support within the Republican base and gear-up for the general election — all things a good running mate can help out with.

So here are a five possible names for Mr. Trump to consider:

Susana Martinez: She has been put on the short-list by Fox News host Bill O’Reilly for good measure: She’s both a woman and Hispanic, two demographics Mr. Trump needs to desperately improve upon to win the general election.

Mrs. Martinez is the first woman to be elected governor of New Mexico and she’s the first Hispanic governor in the United States — providing good fodder against Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. Yes, Mrs. Martinez supports comprehensive immigration reform, has reportedly been critical of Mr. Trump in private, and her state isn’t full of delegates. However, she holds the possibility of improving Mr. Trump’s favorability numbers and hasn’t dismissed the notion outright. Therefore, she’s in.

Marco Rubio: Florida Sen. Rubio seems to be warming to Mr. Trump after a nasty primary fight. In a interview with the Palm Beach Post last week, Mr. Rubio said Mr. Trump’s “performance has improved significantly in recent weeks” and said he’d support Mr. Trump if he won the GOP nomination.

Mr. Trump has in the past said he’d consider Mr. Rubio as a running mate — and he might be a great one. Democrats have long worried about having Mr. Rubio on the ticket, with his compelling personal story, ability to win the Hispanic vote and foreign policy chops.

Mr. Rubio could also help coalesce the Republican establishment and #NeverTrump GOP vote around Mr. Trump, something that desperately needs to happen for Mr. Trump to win in the general election. Plus, Mr. Rubio hails from Florida — a must win, delegate-rich state.

Mike Pence: Yes, the Indiana governor just endorsed Mr. Cruz — but, it was half-hearted. In the endorsement speech, Mr. Pence praised Mr. Trump, saying he was “grateful” to the businessman (at least twice) for taking a stand for Hoosier jobs. Mr. Pence also said he plans on working “my heart out” for whomever the candidate is in November.

Mr. Pence is a respected conservative governor, who also holds the propensity to help unify the conservative, grass-roots wings of Republican Party around Mr. Trump. Having governed, he knows how to navigate political bureaucracies — something Mr. Trump will be new to. He can also help Mr. Trump build coalitions on Capitol Hill, having served six years in the U.S. House and serving as chairman of the House Republican Conference.

Tom Ridge: If Mr. Trump is serious about taking on the Islamic State terror group and wants to immediately start building a wall along the southern border, then what better a vice presidential candidate than the former first secretary of Homeland Security?

Mr. Ridge personally helped then-President George W. Bush build DHS after 9/11 — an agency that’s both responsible for monitoring terrorist threats in the homeland and immigration, border control. Mr. Trump will need a crash-course in this agency and its operations to change the system, and Mr. Ridge could provide it.

Mr. Ridge was born in Pittsburgh’s Steel Valley, can appeal to Rust Belt voters and has served as the state’s governor. Mr. Trump keeps saying he can flip Pennsylvania red — maybe with Mr. Ridge’s help he can do just that and win over some establishment Republicans at the same time.

Newt Gingrich: The former speaker of the House is on practically every political pundit’s speculated short list because he’s been a consistent, positive, articulate voice on network TV defending Mr. Trump’s campaign.

Mr. Gingrich also knows Capitol Hill and the Washington establishment, and can help Mr. Trump with his outreach there. Mr. Gingrich is a very skilled debater (which he demonstrated in 2012) and probably has a treasure trove of opposition research on Mrs. Clinton, given he led her husband’s impeachment. That being said, the Clintons probably have their own arsenal on him, which could be ready to go in a moment’s notice.

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