Donald Trump, for reasons unknown, has put Ben Carson in charge of heading his vice presidential search team, and Carson raised eyebrows on Thursday by suggesting that maybe, the presumptive Republican nominee will choose a Democrat as his vice presidential pick. This seems unlikely, and probably won't happen. Nevertheless, let’s look at some possible Donald Trump Democratic running mates, because who doesn’t like some good bipartisanship now and again?
To be sure, the obstacles to a bipartisan presidential ticket are fierce. It’s not clear that Republican delegates at the convention would agree to putting a Democrat on the ticket, for one, and even if they did, it would likely dissuade a lot of conservative Republicans from coming out to vote for Trump in November.
Still, unity tickets have their appeal. They allow a candidate to draw support from across both parties, at least in theory, and prove that they’re more than just partisan hacks. In 2008, Republican presidential nominee John McCain came very close to picking Democrat* Joe Lieberman as his running mate in an attempt at a unity ticket. It didn’t ultimately happen, but who says it can’t work in 2016?
If Trump wants to buck expectations and put a Democrat on his ticket, he’s got a few options.
Jim Webb is a veteran, a former senator from Virginia, and the screenwriter of the 2000 Samuel L. Jackson film Rules of Engagement. Though his brief 2016 presidential run failed to make a splash in the Democratic Party, he’d be a great choice for Trump’s vice president.
Webb is a pro-gun military man who served in the Reagan administration and once, during a Democratic debate, bragged about killing a man in the Vietnam War. If that’s not right up Trump’s alley, nothing is. More importantly, Webb could potentially appeal to the white, working-class “Reagan Democrats” who Trump, foolishly, is hoping to court in November.
Another former senator, Zell Miller is a DINO — Democrat In Name Only. He’s supported the Republican presidential candidates in every election since 2004, and actually spoke at the Republican National Convention during George W. Bush’s reelection bid. The Georgia “Democrat” and Emperor Palpatine lookalike is conservative on abortion, gay marriage, criminal justice, and other issues, which could help shore up Trump’s support on the far right, and his history as a segregationist would surely appeal to the white supremacists in Trump’s coalition.
While Miller supported segregation, former Senator Robert Byrd was a full-on member of the Ku Klux Klan early on in his career. He also opposed the Iraq War, which Trump pretends to have done as well, and as the longest-serving member of the U.S. Senate, he could potentially help the Donald ingratiate himself to a skeptical Congress and actually get some legislation passed. However, the chances of a Trump-Byrd ticket are slim, as Byrd has been dead since 2010.
Trump is a very unconventional candidate, and what’s more unconventional than picking a fictional character to run as your vice president? A Maryland state senator on HBO’s The Wire, Clay Davis has significant clout with urban black voters who’ve so far declined to support Trump, and would add racial diversity to the Republican ticket ticket. Just as importantly, he delights in corrupt backroom deals, and would undoubtedly join forces with Trump if the price was right.
Alternate Universe Version Of Bernie Sanders
People have been comparing Trump and Bernie Sanders ever since both of them were in this race. It’s always been a silly comparison: The two candidates’ supporters hold diametrically-opposed policy views, and have strongly condemned one another at various points in the campaign. He even said explicitly that a Trump presidency would be an "unmitigated disaster."
But what none of this were true? If we lived in a parallel universe, where Sanders liked Trump, had similar policy proposals to him and didn’t fundamentally oppose the prospect of Trump becoming president, the Vermont Senator would be a great running mate for the Donald.
*Lieberman was not technically a Democrat at the time, having lost a Democratic primary in 2006 and won reelection as an independent instead. However, he caucused with Senate Democrats.