The presumptive U.S. presidential candidates, Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, are nearing the time when they will have to select their vice presidential running mates.
With the Republican national nominating convention set to start in two weeks and the Democratic convention a week later, the teams for both candidates are narrowing their lists of possibilities. They are gauging whether their respective choices could help their ticket in some way, as a plausible president should either Trump or Clinton die in office, or possibly help carry a state in the November national election.
Trump, a billionaire real estate mogul, has said he wants someone as a running mate who can help him navigate the political culture in Washington and advance his legislative program through Congress, since he has never held elected office before.
Several U.S. political analysts say his top choices are a former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich, who last held elected office in 1999 although he ran unsuccessfully for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who ran against Trump this year for the 2016 nomination before dropping out and endorsing him.
While current Vice President Joe Biden, a Democrat, has endorsed Clinton's election, he suggested to Gingrich that he ought to join Trump's ticket if the one-time television reality show host asks him to be his running mate.
"Newt and I disagree," Biden said recently when he was at a conference with Gingrich. "He's one of the brightest guys I know. He knows the government, he knows the issues. I would feel better knowing that there was somebody there with the depth and gravitas on the issues that Newt possesses. That's a long way of saying the relationship, the personal relationship, really, really, really matters."
Trump has not tipped his hand on his selection yet, however, instead meeting with other possible choices as well, including Indiana Governor Mike Pence on Sunday and Iowa Senator Joni Ernst on Monday.
"The only people who are not interested in being the VP pick are the people who have not been asked," Trump said in a Twitter comment Monday.
Analysts say Clinton has a wide list of possible choices as well, among them Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, a one-time governor of the mid-Atlantic state; Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who drew loud cheers for a sharp attack on Trump at a Clinton rally last week; two other senators, Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Cory Booker of New Jersey, and two members of President Barack Obama's Cabinet, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez and Housing Secretary Julian Castro.
Trump is expected to announce his choice in the days leading up to the start of the Republican convention in the Midwestern city of Cleveland, Ohio or even as it starts July 18.Clinton could wait for a few days after that to name her selection until she knows who Trump has picked.