Donald Trump just turned a key moment into a complete mess (once again)

Philip Bump writes: Just as the Indianapolis Star reported on Thursday afternoon, Donald Trump has selected Gov. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) as his running mate. But between the Star’s report and Trump’s confirmation of it, Trump managed to do just about everything possible to draw attention away from the assets that Pence provides to his campaign and, instead, to make his campaign look like a mess.

It is always the case that the vice-presidential pick is made at the discretion of the person at the top of the ticket. Usually, though, that pick is a function of a coordinated effort by the upper-echelon campaign staff, the party backing that candidate and a team of people assigned with screening and assessing the various possibilities. The announcement of a vice-presidential choice is a guaranteed moment of media attention, and so campaigns do their best to manage how the announcement is made. Location and timing are set, the program itself is carefully planned. To the best of its ability, the campaign tries to keep the pick quiet until they’re ready to release it, since that’s the news. If it leaks early, fewer people will tune in to hear the announcement — and fewer people will hear the speeches arguing for why the ticket is preferable to the alternative.

That’s not how the Trump process went. On Thursday morning, the Pence story broke and the campaign denied that a decision had been made, which isn’t uncommon. But for once, it seems as though a decision maybe hadn’t been made — or, worse, that it had been made and then Trump pulled back. Newt Gingrich, one of the two other primary contenders for the position, hadn’t been contacted by the campaign by the time the Star was running its story; it’s not clear when or if Trump contacted him at all. (Update: Apparently he didn’t get a call before Trump’s tweet.) NBC reports that Trump called Gov. Chris Christie — the other contender — Thursday afternoon, but didn’t tell him yes or no. Was Trump keeping his options open? He said last night that he hadn’t made a “final, final decision” — but Pence had already set off for his hotel in New York for the campaign kickoff. [Continue reading…]

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