Now that reality-television star and gilded yeti Donald Trump has pretty much secured the GOP nomination, attention has begun to shift to who might claim the honor of being Trump’s running mate. This should naturally be of great interest to everyone, if for no other reason than the person chosen may well be left holding the bag when Donald Trump finds out just how hard being president is. (He does not think it’s an even remotely difficult job.) There has already been a lot of talk of possible short lists, and an equal amount of talk about who doesn’t want the job under any circumstances (Marco Rubio).
But in case you haven't noticed, Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker and failed presidential candidate really, really wants to be Donald Trump's vice president. Oh, man! He wants it so bad! He does not even try to hide it.
And that’s a bit of a break with tradition. Those with some interest in the position usually tend to dance gingerly around the subject whenever it is broached by reporters. And it is broached often. Right now, every prominent politician who appears on a Sunday morning political show is going to face seven different iterations of the, “Will you serve as vice president, if asked?” every time they appear. Generally speaking, such politicos sidestep the dogged journalism of the Chuck Todds of the world by dropping canned lines like, "I love my job" or, "I'm not thinking about another job."
Not so for Gingrich, who has dropped nearly all pretense about his ambition.
In many ways, Trump and Gingrich would seem to fit well together. Both men can boast of having their difficulties with House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) -- the Ryan agenda, which Trump has famously said he doesn’t know if he’d support, was referred to by Gingrich as “right-wing social engineering.” Both Trump and Gingrich tilt toward grandiosity when discussing their ideas -- maybe they could get Mexico to fund Gingrich’s plan for moon colonization alongside the magic border wall our southern neighbor will be subsidizing. And, of course, both men are famous for being -- well -- let’s call it “maritally ambidextrous.”
Gingrich officially announced his endorsement of Trump last week, but he had been one of the earliest and fiercest defenders of Trump's candidacy, hinting all the way at how fruitful a partnership they might have together. And this booster role has apparently paid off -- as Bloomberg’s Kevin Cirilli and Jennifer Jacobs report, it’s already earned him a spot on Trump’s short list. (Well, one of them, anyway.)
There’s a difference between dropping hints and looking plain desperate, however. And Gingrich’s fanboy campaign has been anything if not obvious. Given his inability to stop talking about the job, it’s hard not to walk away with the impression that he's practically begging for it.
“I think we’d have to think through what does he think the job involves. If he could convince Callista and me that it’s doable and that it’s serious and that we would, in fact, contribute, I think we’d be very hard-pressed not to say `yes,’” Gingrich said on “Fox News Sunday.”
“I don't have any interest in the sense that I'm going to go out and try to become his vice president," Gingrich said last week. "I would obviously have to listen carefully if he called. He's an old friend and I think any time a potential president calls a citizen, a citizen owes them an obligation.”
But Gingrich has been lately going out of his way to signal interest in the job and his overall ardor for The Donald. On Friday, Gingrich bragged about his access to the candidate, telling Fox News that he has “regularly talked with [Trump] for the last five or six years during the campaign occasionally.
“I do more of it by email than I do phone,” he said, making sure to get very specific about this. “We have communicated on a routine basis with the campaign and with Trump and his family.”
And Gingrich is definitely looking to get himself vertically integrated with the Trump brand. Last month, in an interview with Slate, Gingrich even hawked Trump’s books (Gingrich plugging books? What a surprise!):
So when Trump releases his list of foreign policy advisers and no one has ever heard of them, that doesn’t bother you?
Look, I would recommend, if you haven’t done it, that you read "The Art of the Deal." And you follow that up by reading, "The Art of the Comeback."
Sure, pore over those tomes while tucking into a Trump steak, and wash it all down with Trump vodka, whilst lounging in your Trump bathrobe. (Note: All products discontinued. Sad!)
Then there are Gingrich's volleys against Trump naysayers, the traditional role of a candidate’s running mate.
“Trump is the nominee, that’s why I disagreed with Paul Ryan. I thought that the moment to say, ‘OK, we have the leader of the team, let’s pull the team together, let’s go beat Hillary,’ has arrived,” Gingrich told radio host and cat-loving former New York mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis, breaking with the current House speaker. “You’re either for Hillary Clinton or you’re for Donald Trump. If you’re not for Donald Trump, you are functionally helping Hillary Clinton. I think it’s just that straightforward.”
See? Dude is straight-up thirsty.
After Mitt Romney, George W. Bush and his father George H.W. Bush announced they would not attend their party’s convention in July, Gingrich castigated them on Twitter. “Skip Cleveland, fine, but not acceptable for Bushes, Romney to desert the party which made them national figures,” he wrote. Last month, Gingrich defended a much-hyped and stilted address by Trump as a “serious foreign policy speech,” one “worth reading and thinking about.”
“It will be ridiculed by Washington elites,” Gingrich added, perhaps not realizing that he, himself, is the very model of a Washington elite.
Which is perhaps the most delicious irony of them all. The very thing that Trump needs most, according to his own guidelines for choosing a running mate, is a Beltway insider to help him navigate Washington and take some of the edge off of his outsider bid. It’s this quality that makes Gingrich one of the more attractive candidates. It’s also the identity that Gingrich has been attempting to distance himself from ever since he bounced out of Washington.
But that’s not the only quality that makes Gingrich a leading candidate in Trump’s veepstakes. As The Daily Beast’s Olivia Nuzzi reported last week, Trump is planning on eschewing a traditional opposition research game against Clinton in favor of rehashing every bizarro Clinton conspiracy theory from the early-1990s political Phantom Zone. That’s a milieu with which Gingrich is intimately familiar. Hell, for all anyone knows, he may have been a “source” for much of what Nuzzi terms “Hillary fan fiction.”
If there’s one thing that Trump seems to want to do in this campaign, it’s to shatter -- in the most fantastically vulgar way possible -- the myth that there are no second acts in American life. In that effort, he’d find a real kindred spirit in Gingrich, who's been in a constant state of reinvention and religious conversion since he left politics. About the only thing that portends against a Trump-Gingrich pairing? The fact that Gingrich typically matches Trump, pound for pound, in any egomania derby. But if Chris Christie can become an obsequious little twit in Trump’s shadow, why not Newt?
At any rate, if Trump and Gingrich win the election, look for Newt to be sworn in as president by, like, May.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misattributed Gingrich's description of Ryan's agenda as "right-wing social engineering" to Trump.
Jason Linkins edits “Eat The Press” for The Huffington Post and co-hosts the HuffPost politics podcast “So, That Happened.” Subscribe here, and listen to the latest episode below.