GRAY: Say Aloha To The Boldest Pick From Trump’s VP Shortlist

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Liam Gray Contributor
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When President Donald Trump confirmed six names on his shortlist for running mate, it included five expected names and one very strange one: former Democratic Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. 

The list consists of two types of candidates, with Tulsi not fitting into either bucket.

The first type is the establishment Republican candidate and the second is the Trump-mold candidate. Neither is what Trump needs. He doesn’t need a safe, milquetoast GOPer that connects him with the uniparty tradition that his initial candidacy sought to reject and that — eight years into the Trump era — doesn’t hold much sway with voters.

Nor does he need MAGA mimicry that offers a rough imitation of his style, which has always been notable exactly for its indisputable uniqueness and authenticity. (RELATED: ROOKE: Trump Needs An Ultimate Wingman As His VP — The Pick Couldn’t Be More Obvious)

Tulsi is like Trump only in that she is like no one else in the political class. She has consistently gone precisely her own way, in her own style, for her own reasons, most recently by publicly denouncing and leaving the Democratic Party when she saw it being hijacked by illiberal wokeness.

Trump won in 2016 because he was the outsider, promising to “drain the swamp” and rid America of unrelatable “play-the-game” bureaucrats and politicians. The bold pick for a man whose political career has been characterized by boldness would be to select a running mate who is just as individual, singular and even iconoclastic as he has been. Tulsi is the only outsider on the shortlist who fits that bill.

While there is an inherent value in this boldness, Trump making his nest where eagles dare not perch cannot be the sole justification for Trump’s running mate selection. So the obvious question arises: What does Tulsi bring to the table that the other options do not? And, here again, Tulsi shines. (RELATED: Trump’s Most Important Consideration For VP Has Nothing To Do With 2024)

Tulsi is uniquely suited to accentuate and emphasize the underrated areas of Trump’s presidency that can earn him second looks from unexpected places. 

One such area is criminal justice reform. Many in the Republican Party have unfortunately distanced themselves from Trump’s First Step Act, but this is a mistake: voters are smart enough to understand the difference between the effective reforms of Trump’s bill — which resulted in lower crime rates, lower federal incarceration rates, and lower recidivism during his presidency — and the radical “defund the police” policies that have wreaked havoc on America’s cities. Notably, while the Biden years have been a public safety nightmare, the federal incarceration rate increased for the first time in ten years during his presidency. 

Tulsi as a running mate would be an extremely effective voice to draw that distinction and signal Trump’s seriousness in that area. She showed her ability in this regard when she obliterated Kamala Harris on the issue during a 2016 Democratic primary debate (and just imagine a repeat performance in the 2024 vice presidential debate). 

As the war between Russia and Ukraine drags on in an abhorrent deadlock costing countless lives and billions of American dollars while escalating global tensions, the importance of Trump’s record as a peaceful president should not be underestimated. This is another area where Tulsi, who is perhaps best known for her pro-peace disposition, can amplify Trump’s record and send a message that a second Trump term would mean a return to international stability and an end to forever wars.

Tulsi’s own position on these issues is heavily informed by her experience as a combat veteran who is still serving in the Army Reserve. And this is, perhaps, the strongest argument for Tulsi as Trump’s running mate. She would be the only veteran on either presidential ticket (and is one of just two veterans — along with Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance — known to be in serious contention for Trump’s VP spot). 

We all hope that our elected leaders take their Oath of Office, with its commitment to support and defend the Constitution, seriously. But how many of them truly do? When Tulsi took that same oath for the first time, to defend the Constitution meant to do so under enemy fire with her life on the line. It would be a benefit for all Americans to put that mindset back in the White House.

Tulsi is, of course, the dark horse option. But Trump was once the dark horse option himself, and in his first campaign it was his daring and willingness to say and do the unexpected that built excitement around his candidacy. Tulsi has to the potential to ignite that excitement again as the boldest running mate selection Trump could make.

Liam Gray is an editor at the Daily Caller.

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