As news outlets report Donald Trump is likely to choose Indiana Gov. Mike Pence for vice president, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich says he could still be tapped for the Republican ticket.
Gingrich held a 15-minute Facebook Live session for his social media followers on Thursday afternoon to talk about the running mate vetting process. Hours earlier, multiple reports said Pence would be chosen. But the Trump campaign insists a decision has not been made and the announcement of a running mate will be made Friday morning.
“I think tomorrow, I’m going to spend some time after the Trump announcement — whether I’m the person he announces or we have Mike Pence being announced — I’m going to do a Facebook Live,” Gingrich said, promising to answer more questions on video from his Facebook followers.
Gingrich said he has undergone the “rigorous process” of being vetted by Trump’s campaign, specifically from vetting adviser and Washington lawyer A.B. Culvahouse.
“I pointed out to him that having first run for office in 1974, having run for president in 2012 and have been speaker for four years, probably if you just Googled my name, he’d have more material than he needed,” Gingrich said.
“So over the years, this process has evolved into a 113 questions,” the former House speaker said. “It’s really quite amazing. One of them was would I list everything I had written. And I called A.B. and said, ‘wait this a deal breaker. If I assigned an intern, it would take a year, between articles, news columns, op-eds, books, speeches I’ve given to list everything.’ He said, ‘no, no, apply the rule of reason.’ So we took the 27 books and the nine movies and things like that and put them together into a package. And they wanted all my taxes back to 2004. That was a mound — just a stack of tax material.”
He said he also arranged for his biographer, Craig Shirley, to give the campaign an early copy of the soon-to-be released book, “Citizen Newt” to the vetters.
After submitting the material, Gingrich said Culvahouse and three other lawyers spent about three hours with his wife, Callista, and him to ask questions. “Basically trying to figure out is there anything in your background which would blow up in the news media,” Gingrich said.
Gingrich said he also talked “at length” with several senior Trump officials. And on Wednesday, he met for two and half hours with Trump.
“Some of this goes back to the famous 1972 McGovern campaign where it turned out that his vice presidential nominee had had electric shock treatments” he said. “And at that time, that was considered really strange and unusual — and [Thomas] Eagleton was his name — and Sen. Eagleton had to drop off the ticket. And so that was sort of the beginning of the vetting process: What is it that we should know about you that might be embarrassing or difficult.”
At one point during the Facebook Live sessions, Gingrich appeared to still be trying to audition for the role. Asked by one person to name the most impressive thing about Trump, Gingrich said: “I think it is his courage.”
Talking about the difference between Trump picking him or Pence, Gingrich portrayed himself as an outsider like the New York businessman and Pence as more of an insider who would help reassure skeptical party regulars.
“I told him quite directly that I thought he had a choice between having two pirates on the ticket or having a pirate and a relatively stable, more-normal person,” Gingrich said.