Juan Williams: Laying the odds on the veepstakes

Juan Williams: Laying the odds on the veepstakes
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I’m not one to gossip but…

There is a flood of early talk in political circles about who will get the vice presidential nods from Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpUS-Saudi Arabia policy needs a dose of 'realpolitik' Trump talks to Swedish leader about rapper A$AP Rocky, offers to vouch for his bail Matt Gaetz ahead of Mueller hearing: 'We are going to reelect the president' MORE and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMatt Gaetz ahead of Mueller hearing: 'We are going to reelect the president' What to expect when Mueller testifies: Not much McConnell challenger faces tougher path after rocky launch MORE.

The strategy for picking a running mate this year is wildly different from anything seen before. 

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The textbook on picking a VP calls for a heavy focus on adding swing-state support for the top of the ticket. The book also advises finding a running mate seen by voters as plausibly able to take over as president.

Well, throw out the textbook.

No one believes that any running mate is going to tip this year’s electoral map. And no strong, silent type fits the bill at a moment when voters want to shake up the system.

When Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenJulián Castro is behind in the polls, but he's finding a niche Gabbard arrives in Puerto Rico to 'show support' amid street protests Democratic strategist predicts most 2020 candidates will drop out in late fall MORE (D-Mass.) paid a visit to Clinton just days after she claimed the nomination, speculation kicked into overdrive.

And phone lines got hot when former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump hits media over 'send her back' coverage House gears up for Mueller testimony Trump's no racist — he's an equal opportunity offender MORE (R-Ala.) were overheard in a TV green room telling each other that the other one is the best choice to run with Trump.

The dynamics that frame the selection of a VP this year were evident in a Washington Post/ABC poll released last week. It found that nearly 70 percent of Americans have an unfavorable of view of Trump, a 10-point increase since he entered the race last summer. According to the same poll, Clinton also reached a new personal high in her unfavorable rating at 55 percent.

Clinton’s trouble is dwarfed by Trump’s trouble. He is viewed negatively by 94 percent of blacks, 89 percent of Latinos and 77 percent of women. 

Picking a dazzling candidate as his running mate is one move that has the potential to change the way the world sees him. 

The last attempt to dazzle and distract with a vice-presidential pick was in 2008. GOP nominee Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMichelle Obama weighs in on Trump, 'Squad' feud: 'Not my America or your America. It's our America' Meghan McCain shares story of miscarriage Media cried wolf: Calling every Republican a racist lost its bite MORE (Ariz.) got off to a good start with his surprise pick of little-known Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. She is beautiful, high energy and, that year, she had the potential to attract women disappointed that the Democrats had selected a black man over a woman as their nominee.

But the sparkle wore off quickly when Palin began to look uninformed and inept. Questions were raised about McCain’s judgment. Palin’s family life also became a staple of the gossip columns.

Palin’s selection looked especially bad in contrast with Democrat Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaMichelle Obama weighs in on Trump, 'Squad' feud: 'Not my America or your America. It's our America' Media cried wolf: Calling every Republican a racist lost its bite Rubio criticizes reporters, Democrat for racism accusations against McCain MORE’s pick of Sen. Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden compares Trump to George Wallace Sanders unveils plan to guarantee the 'right to a secure retirement' CNN Democratic debate drawing finishes third in cable news ratings race MORE (Del.). Biden was experienced and known to be a good guy, while his selection took the edge off the risk of putting a first-term senator in the Oval Office. 

This time, Trump and Clinton need running mates combining the qualities of Palin and Biden.

The Trump campaign went nuts last month when Ben Carson said that Trump’s shortlist included Palin. Sens. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioUS-Saudi Arabia policy needs a dose of 'realpolitik' Media cried wolf: Calling every Republican a racist lost its bite Rubio criticizes reporters, Democrat for racism accusations against McCain MORE (Fla) and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzHow to reduce Europe's dependence on Russian energy Cruz calls for 'every penny' of El Chapo's criminal enterprise to be used for Trump's wall after sentencing Conservatives defend Chris Pratt for wearing 'Don't Tread On Me' T-shirt MORE (Texas), and two governors, Chris Christie of New Jersey and John Kasich of Ohio, were purportedly also on the list. 

Palin’s downside is obvious; a desperate-looking Christie won’t do either. And Trump can’t afford to extend an offer to Rubio, Cruz or Kasich because he can’t risk being turned down.

That problem is getting worse by the minute as Trump lags farther and farther behind Clinton in the polls. Any dazzling vice-presidential pick has to think about his or her own political future. What will happen to them if Trump suffers a Barry Goldwater-style blowout loss in November?

Gingrich remains a serious contender to be Trump’s number two. He is a well-known personality and an ace with a TV soundbite who is also accustomed to dealing with controversy over his personal life.

But Gingrich sharply criticized Trump for his attacks on New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez and Federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel. 

Trump then did an impromptu poll on possible running mates. He asked the audience at a rally in Tampa to pick from Gingrich, Sessions or former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Rice got the biggest applause from the crowd.  

Rice is a dazzler but the odds that she is willing to sign on are low to non-existent.

Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, Clinton needs a star to bring young, energetic supporters of her primary rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersGabbard arrives in Puerto Rico to 'show support' amid street protests Democratic strategist predicts most 2020 candidates will drop out in late fall Sanders unveils plan to guarantee the 'right to a secure retirement' MORE, back into the fold. 

That means Clinton can’t bring on a centrist pick. Moderate Democrats with close ties to corporate America like Sens. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinPoll: McConnell is most unpopular senator Dems open to killing filibuster in next Congress Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand MORE of West Virginia or Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerTop Democrats demand security assessment of Trump properties Senate passes bill making hacking voting systems a federal crime Senators unload on Facebook cryptocurrency at hearing MORE of Virginia, or former Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana, would anger the liberal base of the party.

She is left to choose among Warren and other left-of-center Democrats such as Sens. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownThe Hill's Morning Report - A raucous debate on race ends with Trump admonishment On The Money: Senators unload on Facebook cryptocurrency | Tech giants on defensive at antitrust hearing | Democrats ask Labor Department to investigate Amazon warehouses Hillicon Valley: Senators unload on Facebook cryptocurrency plan | Trump vows to 'take a look' at Google's ties to China | Google denies working with China's military | Tech execs on defensive at antitrust hearing | Bill would bar business with Huawei MORE (Ohio) and Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineOvernight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Health care moves to center stage of Democratic primary fight | Sanders, Biden trade sharps jabs on Medicare for All | Senate to vote on 9/11 bill next week | Buttigieg pushes for cheaper insulin Health care moves to center stage in Democratic primary fight Dems open to killing filibuster in next Congress MORE (Va.). 

Warren, however, has powerful detractors. Critics say she lacks foreign policy experience and note that she has never run a city, state, cabinet agency or business. 

“I think she will not pick somebody that she feels in her heart isn’t ready to be President or Commander-in-Chief,” former Pennsylvania Governor and DNC Chairman Ed Rendell recently told a Philadelphia radio station. “I think Elizabeth Warren is a wonderful, bright, passionate person, but with no experience in foreign affairs and not in any way, shape or form ready to be commander-in-chief.” 

Clinton could find dazzle by naming the first Latino vice-presidential candidate. But no one doubts she will win Latino voters energized by Trump's insults regardless. If she still wants that option, then Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro is the leading candidate. Labor Secretary Tom Perez and California Congressman Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraTrump drops bid to add citizenship question to 2020 census Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids — Appeals court appears skeptical of upholding ObamaCare mandate | Drug pricing deal faces GOP pushback | Trump officials look for plan B after court strikes drug TV ad rule Democratic group hits GOP attorneys general in six-figure ad campaign on ObamaCare MORE have come on strong in the last few weeks.

When all the talk ends, Trump has few options. His best bet to dazzle is Gingrich. Clinton has a wider range, led by Kaine, Castro and Warren. 

Juan Williams is an author and political analyst for Fox News Channel. His latest book, "We The People: The Modern-Day Figures Who Have Reshaped and Affirmed the Founding Fathers' Vision of America" published by Crown, is out now.