This is our weekly politics newsletter, Conventional Wisdom, covering the wild and wacky world of Donald Trump’s Republican Party. (Sign up here.)
We’ll dispense with the pleasantries this week: On Thursday, Donald Trump officially reached the 1,237 delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination on the first ballot. It’s a purely symbolic number these days — like the weight on your driver’s license — but of note all the same. We now mathematically live in the age of Trump.
What else happened in the past week in the world of fractious politicking and conventions?
If you were keeping track of the Republican National Committee’s Cleveland guest list, you know that Marco Rubio will be on it. In a sit-down interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper that aired Sunday, Rubio said that he would be supporting the Republican nominee, someone he once called “vulgar” and a “con man.” “I want to be helpful,” Rubio said. “I don’t want to be harmful, because I don’t want Hillary Clinton to be president.”
The former senator and presidential candidate, Bob Dole, got in on the fun of VP speculation over the weekend: He said that Trump should consider Newt Gingrich as his running mate. Gingrich is a youthful, rising star in the … oh, wait, check that. He’s actually a 72-year-old former speaker of the House who ran for president in 2012 and talked a lot of about building a moon colony, which both Jeb Bush and I agree is a pretty cool idea. “My view is that Donald Trump needs someone who understands Congress, who can help him work with Congress, who understands foreign policy, domestic policy, economic policy,” Dole said. Pretty much all the things you need to know about in order to be president, besides knowledge of commercial real estate and international beauty pageants.
Another person who might be on the Trump VP shortlist is Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, who told The Daily Caller on Friday that he “would consider” the job if asked. Sessions, an immigration hardliner, is credited as being a major influence on Trump’s policy ideas.
As top-of-the-ticket considerations ricochet around the internet, some GOP state-level leaders are panicking that they haven’t been given enough field organizers by the RNC to compete with the Democrats when it comes to general election voter turnout. In response, the committee released a memo saying it would double staff in battleground states. Someone might need to alert Trump to this fact; in a press conference on Thursday, when asked about whether his campaign staff was up to the task of running a national campaign, he said that they would be relying heavily on the expertise of the RNC. “All over the country they have very good people, and part of the benefit is that we get to use those people,” Trump said.
The week was not without its fun, wacky 2016-isms, of course. There was some amusing interleague play when Trump joked in an interview that he would be more than willing to debate Bernie Sanders. The Sanders campaign jumped on the loose ball, saying they would love to debate Trump “in the biggest stadium possible.”
Alas, Trump backed out via press release on Friday, writing, “I will wait to debate the first-place finisher in the Democratic Party, probably Crooked Hillary Clinton, or whoever it may be.”
A FiveThirtyEight Guide To Veepstakes Speculation by Julia Azari and William D. Adler — The media will spend endless hours discussing the pros and cons of Clinton’s and Trump’s potential vice-presidential picks. But the press typically overestimates the electoral impact of each running mate while missing his or her real influence. So, what do we really know about why vice-presidential candidates are picked and the effect they have on elections?
Pay Attention To Libertarian Gary Johnson by Clare Malone — Gary Johnson might be on the verge of becoming a household name. At the moment, he’s probably most often confused with that plumber who fixed your running toilet last month or your spouse’s weird friend from work who keeps calling the landline, but he’s neither — he’s the former governor of New Mexico, likely Libertarian candidate for president, and he’s polling at 10 percent in two recently released national polls against Clinton and Trump.
The System Isn’t ‘Rigged’ Against Sanders by Harry Enten and Nate Silver — As Sanders supporters claim that the Democratic primary system is rigged against their candidate and that Sanders wins when turnout is higher, they fail to point out that Sanders has benefited tremendously from low-turnout caucuses. Indeed, if all the caucuses were primaries, Clinton would be winning the Democratic nomination by an even wider margin than she is now.