In an interesting moment this Monday, CNN political analyst Paul Begala said that he was 100% sure that President Trump is planning to replace Vice President Mike Pence with former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley on his ticket this fall. Indeed, Begala was so sure that this was to be the plan that he even set a date for the impending change.
“This is not a prediction. It’s a certainty,” Begala said at an AIPAC panel. “On Thursday, July 16 — that’s the date the Democrat gives his or her acceptance address — on that day, to interrupt that narrative, Donald Trump will call a press conference at Mar-a-Lago. He’s going to dump Mike Pence and put Nikki Haley on the ticket to try to get those suburban moms.
“You watch. Guaranteed,” Begala continued. “Trump put Pence in charge of coronavirus to throw him under the bus.”
Now, is there any truth to this, or is Begala just blowing hot air?
To be certain, if this coronavirus winds up being the agent of destruction that some in the media are predicting it will be, it’s going to fall hard on Pence’s shoulders. We wouldn’t go so far as to say that Trump is setting Pence up as a fall guy, but if things go south, the vice president will probably have to fall on his sword. That’s just the way of politics; Trump isn’t going to spend his entire campaign defending Pence.
It’s also (somewhat) presaged by Trump’s remarks last week, when he outright refused to say that Pence had his endorsement for 2024. Some took this to mean that Donald Trump Jr. or Ivanka might be planning to run for president, and that’s certainly a possibility. But it could also mean that Trump is tiring of Pence and is already planning to spice things up for the general election. Putting a woman on the ticket would not be the worst idea, and Haley has shown that she’s loyal to the cause. It could be a good match.
On the other hand, there’s something to be said for stability, which was one of the biggest ingredients missing from Trump’s first term. The turnover at the highest levels has been astounding; would replacing Pence at this late date just reinforce that perception of this administration of being constantly in flux? South Carolina’s in the bag, so Haley won’t offer anything from that perspective. Then again, Indiana’s pretty much sewn up, too, so…who knows?