Biden's bad debate slows Trump's rush to reveal his choice for vice president


Donald Trump’s timeline to announce his vice presidential running mate has paused following a shaky debate performance last week by President Joe Biden, sources familiar with the deliberations told NBC News.

The former president had weighed whether to rush into an announcement last week to either distract Biden ahead of the first debate in Atlanta or quickly change the narrative had the debate gone poorly for Trump.

But it was Biden who had a bad night, raising alarm among Democrats with his raspy and halting delivery, his slack-jawed facial expressions and his occasionally absent train of thought. The political news cycle that ensued — and was still going Monday with speculation about the sustainability of Biden’s candidacy — is not one that Trump is eager to promptly flush out by introducing his running mate.

“What’s the old adage? Never get in the way of your enemy while they are destroying themselves,” a Republican familiar with the discussions said. “I think that applies here. It’s been Biden’s week for all the wrong reasons; let them keep it.”

Trump has said he knows who his running mate will be, while sources close to the process continue to describe a search focused on three finalists: Gov. Doug Burgum of North Dakota, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Sen. JD Vance of Ohio.

The window for a decision and an announcement is narrowing. Trump has publicly expressed a preference to reveal his pick closer to, or at, the Republican National Convention, which begins July 15 in Milwaukee. Previous high-level discussions about the rollout had focused on the days around his sentencing next week, July 11, on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.

It’s not clear whether an announcement this week is off the table — given Trump’s love for theatrics, a surprise reveal could come at any moment. But a prominent Republican fundraiser said that, at this point, it makes little sense for Trump to announce before the sentencing. Aside from the Biden debate fallout, the Supreme Court ruled Monday that Trump has immunity for some of his conduct as president in his federal election interference case.

“If the debate went badly, sure, I think we would know,” the fundraiser said. “But with so much turmoil going on … I don’t know why he would do it in the middle of all this.”

A veteran GOP operative familiar with the rollout discussions agreed.

“There is so much up in the air that there is no reason for them to act quickly after what happened in Atlanta,” the operative said. “There could be someone else nominated by Democrats — how does that potentially change things? Waiting for now makes all the sense in the world.”

Trump’s closest aides have offered few clear reads into the process and the timeline, though senior adviser Chris LaCivita acknowledged on social media last week that the announcement could come any time between then and the convention.

“As President Trump has said himself, the top criteria in selecting a Vice President is a strong leader who will make a great President for eight years after his next four-year term concludes,” Trump senior adviser Brian Hughes said in a written statement offered for this article — and nearly every other report written about the running mate search in recent weeks. “But anyone telling you they know who or when President Trump will choose his VP is lying unless that person is named Donald J. Trump.”

A former senior adviser who remains close to Trump and has discussed the search with him felt comfortable making a more decisive observation.

“If Biden hadn’t bombed that debate,” the former adviser said, “we’d know who Trump’s VP choice was by now.”

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com



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