WASHINGTON (MEDIA GENERAL) — Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican 2016 nominee, but continues to struggle with female voters who consistently prefer Hillary Clinton.
Just this weekend, The New York Times ran an extensive 40-year history of Trump’s “unsettling” interactions with women, including “unwelcome advances,” titled “Crossing the Line: How Donald Trump Behaved with Women in Private.”
Trump was quick to respond, labeling the article a “witch hunt” — a move that suggests he realizes he has serious ground to make up with female voters who could be influenced by such coverage.
As the nominee plans his likely faceoff against Hillary Clinton in the November general election, he and a team headed by campaign manager Corey Lewandowski are mulling vice presidential options.
Several names have come up repeatedly, including former Speaker Newt Gingrich, U.S. Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee, and Rob Portman of Ohio; as well as Govs. Chris Christie of New Jersey and Rick Scott of Florida.
By all accounts, he’s taking their advice under consideration.
In the running
Gov. Mary Fallin, R-Okla.
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin is openly courting Trump, saying she endorses the presumptive nominee and would readily accept his No. 2 spot.
“I have not had any direct contact with Mr. Trump, but I would be very honored if I were to receive a call saying I need you to help make America great again,” Fallin told CNN.
The two-term governor is popular in her purple state, which could swing either way in November. As Fallin’s official state bio highlights, “She was reelected in 2014 to her second term by a 15-point margin, carrying 71 out of 77 Oklahoma counties.”
Fallin also served in the U.S. House of Representatives and could help Trump navigate the legislative fault lines endemic to the deeply fractured Capitol Hill.
Fmr. Gov. Jan Brewer, R-Ariz.
Arizona’s media-friendly former governor, Jan Brewer, has gone all-in with Trump and unabashedly expressed her great interest in serving as his running mate.
Asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper if she would be willing to fill the veep slot, Brewer smiled ear to ear, belly laughed, and responded, “Of course I would be. I would be willing to serve in any capacity that I could be of help with Donald on.”
Since her nationally televised pick-me-moment, Trump has called Brewer “fantastic” and a “fabulous woman.”
Brewer and Trump are something of a natural pairing given their shared focus on tightening America’s borders and toughening immigration laws.
Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa
From the heartland, Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa is considered one of the leading candidates to join the Trump ticket.
Ernst could possibly deliver Iowa, a battleground state, and add her all-American appeal to the presidential candidate more prone to flaunt his wealth than accessibility.
The Ernst biography checks many boxes that can augment Republicans’ electability, with her history as a farmer, Iraq War veteran and elected legislator.
In response to rampant veep rumors, Ernst told media that she’s “just focusing on Iowa right now.”
Of course, that’s never stopped a politician from making a big move, especially considering that Ernst is safe from re-election for her Senate seat until 2020.
Off the list
Several prominent female GOP officials have already extricated themselves from the VP brouhaha.
Govs. Susana Martinez of New Mexico and Nikki Haley of South Carolina both preemptively told Trump thanks, but no thanks.
Martinez and Haley are both seen as future national figures and might prefer to bow out early and avoid having their brands morphed by an unpredictable running mate.
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin burst on the scene in 2008 as nominee John McCain’s running mate, but don’t expect a rerun eight years later.
Palin told CNN, “I want to help and not hurt, and I am such a realist that I realize there are a whole lot of people out there who would say, ‘Anybody but Palin.’ I wouldn’t want to be a burden on the ticket.”
While Palin has dismissed VP chatter, Dr. Ben Carson, who’s assisting in the search, insisted over the weekend that the former Alaska governor remains on Trump’s short list.
Trump has suggested he’s whittling down the list of possible running mates and will make an announcement closer to his official nomination at the Republican National Convention in July.
He’s suggested a successful legislator or governor could aid in accomplishing his goal of passing ambitious legislation, which accounts for senators and governors dominating current speculation.
At this point, it also appears that most of his former opponents, like Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida will not make the short list.
Follow Chance Seales on Twitter: @Chance Seales