This Old Guy Could Actually Be Donald Trump's VP

Donald Trump has to choose a running mate, and the question of if Newt Gingrich will be Donald Trump’s vice president has emerged among the speculated candidates. Although it's an unlikely option, Gingrich has been vocal about the possibility of sharing the ticket with Trump. The former House Speaker and failed presidential candidate has made it clear that he’d happily serve as Trump's veep, and Trump is reportedly considering him.

There is a case to be made for him. Gingrich is well-versed in policy nuance, and has a reputation as an “ideas guy” in the Republican Party. Granted, a lot of his ideas are bad — eliminating child labor laws, putting mirrors in space to stop global warming — but the fact that he even has policy chops at all would lend (some) credibility to Trump’s campaign, which is so far based more on barked insults and machismo than coherent policy solutions. Gingrich is also well-versed in GOP politics, having led the party’s takeover of the House of Representatives in the 1990s.

But that’s where the pros end and the cons begin. Gingrich is 72 years old and hasn’t held elected office in almost two decades. He was a lobbyist for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac before the financial crash, and once recorded an ad with Republican boogeyman (boogeywoman?) Nancy Pelosi on the importance of fighting climate change.

More than any of that, though, there's a personality issue that precludes him from being an effective Trump running mate: The two men are just too similar. Gingrich shares Trump’s ambition, bombasticity, and astronomically high self-regard. In other words, his ego is just as big as Trump’s, and there isn't room for both of them.

This is evident in many places. For example, we have Gingrich’s handwritten notes from his time in the House, in which he envisioned himself as a “definer of civilization,” “teacher of the rules of civilization,” and “leader (possibly) of the pro-civilization forces.” We also have this video clip from 2012, in which he incorrectly predicted, without even the slightest hint of self-doubt, that he’d be that year’s Republican presidential nominee. Look at his face when he says it.

Gingrich is the kind of guy who refers to himself as “a transformational figure,” a phrase most politicians wouldn't self-apply in public. He’s also compared himself to Charles de Gaulle, and once said that “people like me are what stands between us and Auschwitz.”

By all indications, Trump values fealty and obsequiousness from his surrogates. (Just ask Chris Christie.) But Gingrich seems biologically incapable of humbling himself. If Gingrich were on the ticket, he would almost certainly manage to upstage Trump at some point, intentionally or not. The same would be doubly true if they were actually elected. President Trump would have to keep a very watchful eye on Vice President Gingrich, and that's an added headache to the already stressful job of being president of the United States.

In 2011, Slate’s Jacob Weisberg cited Gingrich’s “bouts of grandiosity, megalomania, irritability, impulsiveness [and] spending sprees.” All of those descriptors apply to Trump just as well as Gingrich. But if Trump wins, he’s already going to have a hard enough time fitting his own ego into the White House; it wouldn’t help to take on another personality that’s just as big.