What is the deal with that weird Nikki Haley VP tweet?

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“Enough of the false rumors,” the former ambassador to the United Nations tweeted Wednesday afternoon. “Vice President Pence has been a dear friend of mine for years. He has been a loyal and trustworthy VP to the President. He has my complete support.”

That would be a powerful statement if — and this “if” is absolutely critical — there were any sort of “rumors” (false or otherwise) currently floating around Washington about Haley and Pence. Which, well, there aren’t.

“It’s too late for Mr. Trump to revamp his political personality. But with the 2016 election in the past, Nikki Haley on the ticket could tamp down the antipathy for Mr. Trump that seems to afflict so many moderate and Republican-leaning women.”

Which makes some sense!

Nikki Haley bats down idea of being Trump's 2020 VP pick: 'Vice President Pence has been a dear friend of mine for years'

Haley, the first female governor of South Carolina and second Indian-American governor in US history, would likely help — at least in some quarters — to take some of the hardest edges off Trump. And unlike most people who have left Trump’s administration, Haley left on very good terms with the President.

“She’s done a fantastic job, and we’ve done a fantastic job together,” Trump said of Haley during a gathering in the Oval Office to announce her departure in fall of 2018. “She’s a fantastic person, very importantly, but she also is somebody that gets it.”
But Trump addressed the whole thing back in June. Asked by NBC’s Chuck Todd whether “Mike Pence (is) 100% on your ticket in 2020,” Trump replied: “Well, look, look — 100%, yes. He’s been a terrific vice president. He’s my friend.”

Which seemed to be case closed. While there’s the occasional tweet or comment on cable TV about the Pence-Haley swap, it’s not something that has been part of the national political discussion for the better part of the last two months. It was floated and knocked down back then.

So, what the heck is Haley talking about? Good question! There are two obvious theories.

1) There is a story coming soon — that Haley got wind of — that suggests either a) Trump is still considering replacing Pence on the ticket or b) Haley has been angling behind the scenes to replace Pence as the vice presidential candidate on the 2020 ballot.

OR

2) She wants to gin up the “replace Pence” story again for her own political reasons and sees this tweet as a way to do it.

Since I know of no sort of story about to drop on a ticket swap — although I am not sure other media organizations would give me a heads up if they did have one coming — let’s assume that it’s the second theory that applies here. (If a story pops on a Pence-for-Haley swap sometime soon, then we’ll know exactly why she tweeted what she did.)

Haley knows that by tweeting what she tweeted, she will start a conversation about the VP swap story. What “false rumors?” reporters will ask. And then they will make calls and check with sources to see what exactly, Haley is talking about. A few stories will be produced — and a few more cable TV segments will be made — that try to figure out whether there is any “there” there. Even if there is nothing to Haley’s “false rumors” claim, she will have effectively pushed the narrative back into the political bloodstream.

“The only person talking about Nikki Haley as VP is Nikki Haley herself,” a senior administration official told the Washington Examiner.

Of course, if you think about it, Haley’s tweet is a decidedly Trumpian move. Float something that no one is talking about. Watch them talk about it. And then, well, see what happens!

A source familiar with Haley’s thinking told CNN, “She ignored it for months, and finally decided to say ‘enough is enough.’ She of course knew it would draw attention in the immediate term but hoped it would put an end to it longer term.”

Now, I’m not necessarily saying Haley is trying to get on the ticket. But she may well be stirring the pot for the sake of stirring the pot — and ensuring her name gets back in the national mix.

And Haley isn’t elaborating on what she meant. (The tweet speaks for itself!) Which means we can only speculate about why she did what she did.

One thing I’d like to make clear: Enough of the false rumors. I am not going to be the starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins this season.





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