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Here’s why a Trump-Florida ticket isn’t so simple


Daily Caller News Foundation

Former President Donald Trump is said to have a “short list” of possible vice-presidential choices:  Sen. Tim Scott, Gov. Doug Burgum, Sen. J.D. Vance, Sen. Tom Cotton, Sen. Marco Rubio, Rep. Byron Donalds, and Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The last three are from Florida where Trump has voted since 2019.  A Trump-Florida ticket calls into question how the Twelfth Amendment would impact this pairing, and what Trump might do to navigate this constitutional issue.

Rubio, DeSantis, and Donalds bring unique advantages to a Trump ticket. A popular two-term governor, a third-term U.S. senator, and a rising backbencher–all relatively young men. Rubio is a Cuban American, who could help draw Hispanic support from Biden.

The presidential bids of Rubio in 2016 and DeSantis in 2024 brought them national name recognition while vetting their professional and personal lives. Rubio is a foreign policy expert. DeSantis takes on woke policies and would be an ideal warrior against the Deep State.

Donalds challenges the conventional wisdom that both blacks and the young are forever Democrats. He also can help Trump on day-one within the House Republican caucus, where he is popular.  Each man is an exceptional debater. DeSantis and Rubio would be strong 2028 presidential candidates with establishment Republican support. The singular negative attribute of each is that they and Donald Trump are Florida residents.

The Twelfth Amendment says in part: “The Electors shall meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves.” With a Trump-Florida ticket, Florida’s 30 presidential electors could not vote for DeSantis or Rubio for vice president. Trump could end up with Kamala Harris, instead!

In 2000, then-Texas Gov. George Bush chose former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney to be his GOP running mate. Both men had legal residency in Texas, Cheney having moved to Dallas in 1995 as CEO of Halliburton. Cheney was raised in Wyoming and was their sole U.S. House member from 1979 to 1989. When he moved to Texas he kept his Wyoming home. To avoid a Twelfth Amendment problem, he sold his Texas home in 2000 and returned to Wyoming.

Under the original Constitution, candidates ran individually for president and state electors voted for them. The candidate with the most electoral votes became president, the second-place winner became vice president. This would allow the two most qualified men to lead the young nation. If no one won the majority of votes in the Electoral College, the U.S. House of Representatives would select the president, with one vote per state delegation. If there was a tie for vice president, the U.S. Senate would choose.

This was the system in the 1789 and 1792 presidential elections. Washington was unopposed and worked well with his vice president, John Adams. But the 1796 Adams vs. Jefferson election was highly divisive. The French revolutionary wars in Europe found Adams pro-British, Jefferson pro-French. As it happened, Adams was elected president, Jefferson vice president. The nation was sobered by the weakness of a system that placed fierce political foes together in the White House.

In 1800 informal party tickets developed. Adams ran with Charles Pinckney, and Jefferson ran with Aaron Burr. Because Electors voted for the candidates individually–not as a ticket–Jefferson and Burr tied in the Electoral College vote. With this stunning development, the election was thrown into the U.S. House, which took 35 votes with no winner. Alexander Hamilton then urged his Federalist friends in the House to support Jefferson on the 36th vote. “The Burr Dilemma” had to be addressed! The Twelfth Amendment was proposed by Congress in 1803 and ratified by three-fourths of the states in June 1804 during the Jefferson administration. It went into effect for the 1804 presidential election, which saw the Thomas Jefferson-George Clinton ticket victorious.

If Trump asks DeSantis, Rubio, or Donalds to join his ticket, they cannot afford to lose Florida’s electoral votes. For a Trump-Florida ticket to advance, Trump will have to return to his home in New York City or New Jersey.

Trump recently gathered huge crowds in Wildwood, N.J., and the Bronx, N.Y., proclaiming that both states may be in play. Ever the populist, Trump has a raw sense of political strategy and theatrics. The choice of these speech venues–in the middle of his New York trial–may be a test run for a move north if he decides to go with a Trump-Florida ticket. Such a move may also put in play one of those “deep blue” states. His recent visits there and the organic grassroots response signal how unconventional everything promises to be in this seminal presidential contest.

Michael C. Maibach resides in Alexandria, Virginia. He is a Distinguished Fellow on American Federalism at Save Our States, and a Trustee and Managing Director of the James Wilson Institute.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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Republished with permission from Daily Caller News Foundation

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