News and Commentary

Is Trump Swapping Pence For Haley? Media Speculate After WSJ Op-Ed

After an op-ed calling for a Trump/Haley ticket in 2020 was published in The Wall Street Journal, the media have been speculating about the so-called “Draft Haley” movement underway.

Andrew Stein, the founder of the “Democrats for Trump” movement in 2016, argued in an op-ed published on Sunday that President Donald Trump should drop current Vice President Mike Pence for former United States ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley to win over “politically moderate suburban women, many of whom see him as divisive.”

“I mean no disrespect for Mr. Pence, who’s loyally served the president and the nation. But he’s given Mr. Trump all the help he can. He inspired his fellow evangelical Christians to take a chance in 2016,” argued Stein. “But in 2020 they’ll already be repelled by the Democrats’ embrace of infanticide. Mr. Trump’s greater obstacle to re-election comes from politically moderate suburban women, many of whom see him as divisive.”

Stein noted that Republican National Committee Chairman Ronna McDaniel recently asked why the party was “losing with women.”

“Mr. Trump has promoted women to the highest echelons of the White House. But elevating energetic and effective leaders like Kellyanne Conway, Hope Hicks and Sarah Huckabee Sanders has earned him scant credit,” the former president of the New York City Council wrote. “It’s too late for Mr. Trump to revamp his political personality. But with the 2016 election in the past, Nikki Haley on the ticket could tamp down the antipathy for Mr. Trump that seems to afflict so many moderate and Republican-leaning women.”

The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman threw fuel on rumors surrounding a Haley VP-push on Sunday night, suggesting The Wall Street Journal would not run Stein’s op-ed without approval from owner Rupert Murdoch.

“Here’s something that doesn’t happen without a Murdoch nod,” Haberman commented, regarding Stein’s op-ed.

“Murdoch is among those who Trump speaks frequently with who has mulled about the 2020 ticket,” the reporter noted in a subsequent tweet. “It was possible chicken or egg in Trump asking about Pence loyalty months ago,” she added, linking to a Times piece Haberman co-authored in November, titled, “Is Mike Pence Loyal? Trump Is Asking, Despite His Recent Endorsement.”

In the linked Times piece, Haberman and Katie Rogers reported that Trump was privately questioning Pence’s “loyalty,” apparently poking around for his 2020 ticket, though just a week prior the president seemed to publicly endorse Pence as his official 2020 VP pick.

“Mike, will you be my running mate?” Trump asked Pence, who raised his hand and nodded in the affirmative.

“Will you? Thank you. O.K., good. That was unexpected, but I feel very fine,” the president said.

Following The Wall Street Journal op-ed, The Week also speculated that the “Draft Haley” movement is “underfoot.”

Two days earlier, the Tampa Bay Times argued, similarly to Stein, that Trump needs Haley. “[S]omething is missing. Something fresh, something new, something different. … Enter Nikki Haley, stage right. The Democrats may have no answer for her,” wrote Adam Goodman. “The former South Carolina governor, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and emerging favorite of Republicans right, left, and Trumpian, Haley would spontaneously inject life, character and future into the national ticket. She would also do more to renew and broaden the GOP label than anyone since Ronald Reagan.”

Despite the speculation, it seems unlikely Trump would make the jump now, since he officially launched his 2020 campaign last week in Florida. But then again, we’ve seen crazier things happen in presidential elections.