Trump Isn’t Choosing a V.P. He’s Casting a Reality Show.

Trump Isn’t Choosing a V.P. He’s Casting a Reality Show.

Trump Isn't Choosing a V.P. He's Casting a Reality Show” dives into the unconventional and theatrical approach Donald Trump is taking to select his running mate for the upcoming election. Drawing stark parallels to his reality TV days, the article reveals how Trump is orchestrating a public spectacle that bears more resemblance to a reality show audition than a traditional vice-presidential search. Aspiring candidates, eager to win his favor, parade themselves in media spectacles, vying for the spotlight and hoping to demonstrate their loyalty. Through this lens, the piece explores how Trump's with “The Apprentice” informs his decisions, treating the vice-presidential selection process like an episode crafted for maximum drama and viewership. It's a revealing look at the blurred lines between political strategy and entertainment in Trump's world. Have you ever wondered why the selection of Donald Trump's vice-presidential picks seems more like an extended episode of a reality television show than a traditional political process?

Trump Isn’t Choosing a V.P. He’s Casting a Reality Show

Trump Isn't Choosing A V.p. He's Casting A Reality Show.

The Circus of Public Jockeying

It's hard to miss the theatrical air surrounding the public jockeying by various candidates to become Donald Trump's running mate. When Trump was at the Manhattan criminal courthouse, a parade of his acolytes appeared, often donning Trump-red ties, seemingly to impress their potential future ticket mate. Notable names like Senator J.D. Vance of Ohio, Senator Rick Scott of Florida, and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy were part of this spectacle.

These aspirants weren't shy about their intentions either. They clamored for camera time, made public declarations of , and tweeted passionately about the perceived injustice of Trump's verdict. The whole episode felt like an audition for a coveted reality show spot, rather than a serious political process.

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A Non-Traditional Vice-Presidential Search

Typically, the search for a vice-presidential candidate happens discreetly. Possible picks lobby behind the scenes while publicly downplaying their interest. Trump's process, instead, is out in the open—a transparent cattle call audition.

Mr. Trump has always catered to the cameras, his favorite audience. Seen through this lens, his veepstakes make more sense. It's a public display rife with unvarnished careerism, resembling a reality show. Trump, America's first reality-TV president, is reviving “The Apprentice” in the form of the veepstakes.

An Apprentice Mentality

During numerous interviews I conducted with Trump for my book “Apprentice in Wonderland,” Trump often extended our scheduled time to watch clips from “The Apprentice.” It became clear that he views his presidential runs and his time in the White House as extensions of his reality show. Trump seemed more engrossed in his TV career's minutiae than in his achievements as president.

His hosting on “The Apprentice” significantly influences how he perceives the world and makes decisions. Trump often discussed job applicants in terms reminiscent of a producer assembling a movie cast. This approach explains what he's searching for in a V.P.: someone who can generate headlines and drama, ensuring the audience remains engaged.

Loyalty and Celebrity

For Trump, loyalty is paramount. He fondly spoke of Joan Rivers, a “Celebrity Apprentice” winner, who publicly praised him and credited him for reviving her career post-2009. Celebrity status also weighs heavily in Trump's evaluation. He even considered calling Dennis Rodman, the N.B.A. star and “Celebrity Apprentice” contestant, for help in navigating foreign diplomacy due to Rodman's close with Kim Jong-un. Trump also brought the notorious onscreen troublemaker Omarosa Manigault Newman to D.C. as an advisor.

“A lot of things I do in life, I do as an experiment,” Trump once told me. He's interested in testing loyalty through his reality-show lens, holding our attention by stirring up drama and keeping us guessing.

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Trump Isn't Choosing A V.p. He's Casting A Reality Show.

Marco Rubio and the Question of Loyalty

Trump's pressure on Senator Marco Rubio to move out of Florida, should he be selected as the vice-presidential candidate, is seen as a loyalty test. The potential constitutional bar preventing both campaign members from being registered in the same state is a point of debate. While Trump could easily change his residence to New Jersey, pressuring Rubio to relocate underscores the loyalty test he subjects his candidates to.

However, considering Trump's history of stringing along candidates—like Gary Busey on “The Apprentice”—it's debatable if Rubio would be his ultimate choice. Trump often keeps candidates as red herrings, adding to the dramatic narrative.

The Big Personality Balance

In choosing a running mate, Trump is likely looking for someone with a big personality, but not so much that it overshadows him. This might not bode well for candidates like Ramaswamy, who actively seek the spotlight. Ramaswamy's primary campaign against Trump and his inclination towards excessive stunts liken him to Sam Solovey from “The Apprentice,” whose outsize personality led to his dismissal.

On the other hand, candidates like Senator Vance, who aligned himself closely with Trump, liken themselves to Bill Rancic, the always-loyal first-season winner of “The Apprentice.” Vance, consistently supportive and uncritical of Trump, seems to model the reliable yes-man persona Trump appreciates.

Trump Isn't Choosing A V.p. He's Casting A Reality Show.

The Significance of Vice-Presidential Picks

Whether vice-presidential picks significantly impact elections remains debatable. Teddy Roosevelt famously dismissed the role as leading to “oblivion.” Nevertheless, the best vice-presidents handle the office with dignity and complement the president's legislative goals.

What Voters Deserve

Regardless of political leanings, voters should hope for more than just a good lackey in a vice-presidential hopeful. An ideal candidate should be qualified and capable, ready to assume the second-highest—and potentially the highest—office in the land.

Trump Isn't Choosing A V.p. He's Casting A Reality Show.

The Reality Show Continues

Mr. Trump's actions suggest he might prioritize flattery over significant qualifications in his running mate. This reiterates how, for Trump, it's all about the show. For 14 seasons of “The Apprentice,” Trump was the central figure, with even the winning contestants becoming spokespersons for his brand. It's clear that, once again, Trump is busy casting the nation's biggest reality show, ensuring we all stay tuned.

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Trump's unconventional approach to selecting a running mate, shaped by his reality-TV background, prioritizes drama and loyalty over traditional political prudence. His veepstakes not only reflect his quest for a ratings-boosting co-star but also highlight a broader debate on what voters deserve in a vice-presidential candidate. As Trump continues to cast his reality show, one thing remains certain: the audience will be watching closely.

Ramin Setoodeh is a co-editor in chief of Variety and the author of “Apprentice in Wonderland: How Donald Trump and Mark Burnett Took America Through the Looking Glass.”

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Trump Isn't Choosing A V.p. He's Casting A Reality Show.

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