You might almost feel bad for Mike Pence. You could almost see the color drain from his cheeks when he was tapped by the boss to lead the United States coronavirus response.
This late in the game, with pandemic panic setting in, the vice president has been put in a no-win position. The way I see it, it’s all about Ivanka Trump.
Already there is a sense the White House bungled the early outbreak and that things are going to get worse before they get better. On Monday, for example, U.S. stock market trading was temporarily halted after an opening-bell free fall. Doctors are raging about problems with getting patients tested. The public has been wiping clean the shelves of disinfectant product in supermarkets from coast to coast. If someone is going to have to pay, the Donald figures, “better Mike than me.” Mr. Pence gets kicked off the re-election ticket, and Ms. Trump, White House official without portfolio, steps in.
Here’s why this makes sense. Presidential elections are not won or lost on policies and positions. They are won by whichever side is the most energized. Right now, that balance favors whomever the Democrats nominate, and the president knows it. Those voters who thought he might not be so bad in 2016 are going to either sit out this time or vote for his opponent. Even his so-called base is likely to decline, as did Barack Obama’s core voters between 2008 and 2012.
Dumping Mr. Pence in favor of his daughter would return at least some of her daddy’s shine in the minds of voters who would other wise be inclined to stay on the couch. It is not so far-fetched. John McCain tried to run this play when he chose Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his veep candidate. The problem was that she turned out to be too much of a loon and in the end may have cost him more than two million votes.
With the first daughter as his number-two, President Trump would be elevating a known quantity. At least one major poll shows her with better numbers than the president in the key swing states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. She has great name recognition, in part because of her endless overseas trips, dutifully covered by the national media.
Sarah Kendzior, the deeply insightful author of “The View From Flyover Country,” has been making the point about Ivanka since early in the 2016 campaign. Ivanka might help win back some women voters, and provide the ultimate insurance for her father against another impeachment. Mr. Pence was brought on to help with Christian conservatives; their support now appears solid. Giving the nod to Ivanka would be the kind of flashy stroke her daddy loves.
Poor Mike Pence.