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Morning Glory: Trump's big chance to put this election away now

Running mates don't usually matter, but this year Trump's pick will provide a key contrast with Kamala Harris.

If you are on the fence between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump, consider the current Vice President and the past cases of Breckinridge Long and of RimaAnn Nelson.

The only major "known unknown" in this campaign that is certain to impact some votes is Trump’s choice of a running mate. My long-time opinion is that the candidates for the second spot just don't matter much.

But, but, but… this year the age and what appears obvious to me and most of America —the increasing infirmity of President Biden—will amp up the focus on Vice President Harris and thus on the contrast between her and Trump’s choice of a running mate. Trump the developer knows "contrast" and its visual power. That future "contrast" has enormous political prowess too. Trump benefits most by selecting a running mate who most sharply contrasts with Harris on intellect and stature.

Harris's horrific weaknesses as a candidate and often risible public pronouncements as the vice president argue strongly for a selection by Trump of a VP candidate who contrasts sharply with Harris in the general category of "seriousness of purpose" as well as basic intellectual ability.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE FOX NEWS OPINION

I’ve long argued for a veteran as Trump’s running mate like Senators Tom Cotton, Joni Ernst or J.D. Vance or former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. There are other names such as Congresswoman Elise Stefanik and former National Security Advisor Ambassador Robert C. O’Brien (the LDS vote in Arizona and Nevada matter), but the basic idea and imperative are obvious: the former president’s first big announcement should crush via comparison the often giggling and usually incoherent Vice President.

Such a choice is also going to telegraph an expanded Trump coalition in the fall that will be built in part with people who understand that the Communist Chinese Party led by General Secretary Xi Jinping and their allied evil regimes in Russia and Iran as well as the second tier "threat countries" in Cuba, North Korea and Venezuela, and Iran’s many proxies such as Hamas, Hezbollah and the Houthis pose genuine and lasting danger to the U.S. and our allies.

HUGH HEWITT: NAME THE VEEP NOW

If it is a close election, it will help Trump considerably to have a veteran running with him, one representative of the next generation of leadership. (Cotton is 46, Ernst 53, Vance 39, and Pompeo 60.) Most important of all, each of these veterans and a handful of others know the world, it’s truly malevolent actors, and are experienced with dealing with the real evils of our enemies abroad. By contrast, Vice President Harris simply evidences no ability to distinguish  between friend and foe, and is especially weak on confronting Iran’s puppets and standing by Israel.

Along with the choice of running mate, Team Trump has an opportunity to message about all of Trump’s future team. While never losing sight that the election is about Trump v. Biden for the large majority of voters, the reality of 2024 is that for independents alarmed by the growing menace of the world’s evil regimes and our domestic disasters of a collapsed southern border, the flood of fentanyl, inflation’s cumulative burden on families and soaring crime in many areas, the 3000 or so political appointees who accompany a president into office should weight on voters’ minds. Which brings me back to Long and Nelson.

Breckinridge Long was a State Department appointee under both Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt. Long was also a "country club anti-Semite" who worked overtime to stop Jews fleeing Hitler from entering our country in the late ‘30s and early ‘40s. Long was a character in Herman Wouk’s Winds of War and War and Remembrance (and played by Eddie Albert in the television mini-series based on the books) but his role in keeping the doors shut to the desperate is well-chronicled even by the journalists of his hometown of St Louis.

I thought of Long this week when an underling at the Department of Veteran Affairs issued an edict mandating the removal from all VA facilities of the iconic photo "The Kiss" between a sailor and nurse in Times Square. RimaAnn Nelson, the VA's assistant secretary of health for operations, sent the Feb. 29 memo calling for the prompt removal of the photo, asserting that it was "inconsistent with the VA's no-tolerance policy toward sexual harassment and assault." VA Secretary Denis McDonough quickly reversed the bone-headed decision by Nelson, but what the incident underlines is that the federal government is vast and now deeply ideological across large swaths of it.

Long and Nelson weren’t following their president’s orders. Their presidents may not have ever known about the decisions they were making on the presidents’ behalf. They were exercising their power as they thought fit, exercising their power as they thought fit.

This happens a lot at levels below the president and his cabinet secretaries. Every Administration has thousands of people making tens of thousands of decisions impacting you and your families. The key to a Trump and GOP victory this fall is forcing voters to confront the fact that the Democrats have lurched very far left on any number of issues, though undermining Israel post-10/7 is the one of most concern to voters who know Israel is the equal of any ally the U.S. has.

To combat this permanent government and to ride the fences around the Longs of this era like Nelson and many others, the 3,000 who come along with the president matter almost as much as Biden or Trump. The more voters know that Trump would arrive flanked by serious people across all the agencies that have simply broken down in the last three years, the more likely a voter will chose Trump, despite his or her reservations, especially because they are so concerned by the competence of Team Biden which daily reveals itself to be driven by an extraordinarily radical ideology that comes from the left wing of the Democrat Party.

Friends or Israel especially need to have a "come to Jesus" meeting, as President Biden so appallingly put it, with themselves and their family and friends. It really is a binary choice between Biden and Trump, and that is best illustrated by the teams that will accompany either man being so very different on the issue of supporting the Jewish State. Israelis don’t want innocent Palestinians to die and they and their friends in the United States are sick to death of hearing Biden/Harris suggest otherwise.

With the likely return of Ambassador David Friedman to Israel if Trump wins and the arrival of serious people back at the top of our national security pyramid at Defense, State, the CIA and in the office of the National Security Advisor, Americans (and Israelis) would rest easier about not just the guy in the White House but also about the the jobs that are presently filled by the Long-Nelsons of today.

Trump should win, handily, but he has to help a crucial portion of the electorate understand the fundamental choice confronting them. That starts with the choice of a running mate who towers over Vice President Harris in intellect and experience.

Hugh Hewitt is one of the country’s leading journalists of the center-right. A son of Ohio and a graduate of Harvard College and the University of Michigan Law School, Hewitt has been a Professor of Law at Chapman University’s Fowler School of Law since 1996 where he teaches Constitutional Law. Hewitt launched his eponymous radio show from Los Angeles in 1990, and it is today syndicated to hundreds of stations and outlets across the country every Monday through Friday morning. Hewitt has frequently appeared on every major national news television network, hosted television shows for PBS and MSNBC, written for every major American paper, has authored a dozen books and moderated a score of Republican candidate debates, most recently the November 2023 Republican presidential debate in Miami and four Republican presidential debates in the 2015-16 cycle. Hewitt focuses his radio show and this column on the Constitution, national security, American politics and the Cleveland Browns and Guardians. Hewitt has interviewed tens of thousands of guests from Democrats Hillary Clinton and John Kerry to Republican Presidents George W. Bush and Donald Trump over his forty years in broadcast, and this column previews the lead story that will drive his radio show today.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM HUGH HEWITT

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