As Maggie Haberman of the New York Times posted Monday on Facebook, "we are in a scary window" when reporters will scramble to be the first to break the news on who will be Donald Trump's vice presidential pick. They get aggressive. They will sell their grandmothers, lease their children, Airbnb their homes, Uber you to the airport, just for the inside scoop. They also get careless and somebody invariably gets a bum tip and blasts it out to the world.
I'll save all my reporter friends a phone call: I was never in the vice presidential vetting loop as an adviser to Donald Trump. In early May, Mr. Trump asked me in passing who I thought would make a good running mate. I gave him my opinion - Sen. Tom Cotton or Rep. Mia Love - but I don't think it stuck.
As Ed Kilgore wrote in New York Magazine, "The pros and cons of [Chris] Christie and [Newt] Gingrich have been thoroughly masticated by the chattering classes." I like both fine but I don't want either to be the GOP vice president nominee: Christie is redundant on a ticket with an aggressive candidate for president and Gingrich is better suited for the inside game - say, chief of staff.
Others have ruled themselves out by now. I think Sen. Bob Corker and Sen. Joni Ernst backed out precisely for the reasons they articulated: maybe Ernst saw it's a little early in her career to leave her post and if I were Corker, I would prefer to serve as Secretary of State. These are both smart moves for Corker and Ernst.
I can imagine Donald Trump and his confidants are a bit relieved at this news, really: as long as both the Senators are enthusiastic about playing another role in his administration - and they are - there's no real loss here. TrumpCo can move on to other candidates.
In fact, the GOP bench is deep - there are plenty of solid vice presidential candidates for Mr. Trump to choose from. And I'm not disappointed the likes of Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and John Kasich won't consider a position for which they were never being considered.
Right now, I'm way out there in a bet saying Mr. Trump will announce Gov. Pence tomorrow night at a central Indiana rally. But in light of comments the presumptive GOP nominee made Monday, I now think my bet's an outlier. Friday makes more sense. Regardless, I'm stuck with my bet: I've wagered Donald Trump will Pence as his running mate as soon as Tuesday evening in Indianapolis. I say this because Pence is the best pick, fulfilling all the needs of the nominee:
1) Above all, Pence calms restive Republicans and drains the air out of the wretched NeverTrump forces once and for all. His years in the House are remembered quite fondly - he's affable, easy to work with, principled yet open, and fair. Pence is steeped in policy and is reliably conservative where many conservatives feel Trump is a bit squishy. Look no further than what's happening to Gen. Flynn right now: his Sunday slip up on abortion is now a flip flop, and the social conservatives - many against Trump - are eating him alive. Never with Pence.
2) He's a Washington insider with CEO experience at the helm of a $31 billion company called Indiana. That's a twofer you don't get with other possible candidates.
3) Indiana is not a Trump battleground state but it's what the campaign calls a "must hold" state - one of 5-6 states the campaign is targeting to keep in the GOP column because without them, Trump cannot with the presidency.
4) He's a sound, even-keeled, resonant communicator. He understands the message, stays on message, and is reliably clear when he communicates the message. This discipline will come in handy on a campaign that has a more shoot-from-the-hip candidate at the top of the ticket.
6) Picking Pence has not inconsequential influence on Ohio - Indiana media leaks over to the western reaches of the Buckeye State. There, it's hard to tell where one state ends and the other begins; it's one of the most Republican areas of the nation. Pence gets along well with Ohio's GOP governor, John Kasich, and will likely help move him closer to Trump. Who knows, Pence may gin up some Kasich enthusiasm in time for the Cleveland Convention, coaxing along a pivotal battleground state with him. Another twofer!
7) Let's face it, Pence is straight out of central casting. Fulfilling the public's image of a conventional president with your vice president is just good politics - especially when the presidential candidate is so unconventional.
Driving what day he's announced: Pence has to be in or out of his own reelection as governor of Indiana by Friday, by law - he can't run for both offices in the Hoosier State. So my timing might be off, but I think my selection is spot on.
So there it is, I put my money where my mouth is: #TrumpPence2016. What's in your wallet? Place a bet - the scary window is closing.