Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump says he has narrowed his list of running mates to “five or six” people.
But one name that doesn’t appear to be on the list is conservative darling Dr. Ben Carson, who has instead been charged with helping to spearhead the vetting process.
That news is certain to disappoint conservative evangelicals who had pushed for Carson, but is in line with previous Trump claims that he wants an experienced politician as his vice president.
Trump’s comments came as he begins to prepare for a long, expensive general election campaign. His two remaining Republican rivals suddenly dropped out of the race last week, anointing him the party’s presumptive presidential nominee faster than even the confident candidate expected.
As part of his general election planning, Trump told the AP at his office in New York that he’s moving aggressively to identify a running mate with deep political experience. While he would not provide a full list of names, he did not rule out New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the former rival whom he’s already tapped to head his transition planning.
Trump’s campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, is running the vice presidential vetting effort “with a group,” Trump said, that includes former competitor Carson and himself. “Honestly, we’re all running it. It’s very much a group effort,” said Trump.
A first-time political candidate, the celebrity businessman said there’s no need for another business person on the Republican ticket and he wants a running mate who can help him pass legislation as president. By joining forces with a political veteran, Trump would also signal a willingness to work with the Republican establishment that he’s thoroughly bashed during his campaign.
Trump said he doesn’t plan to announce his running mate until the Republican National Convention in July, a four-day event that he’s planning to remake with a showman’s touch.
“The concept of some entertainment from a great singer, a great group I think would be something maybe to break things up,” Trump said. “You’ll be hearing plenty of political speeches.”
In the interview, Trump outlined a general election campaign that banks heavily on his personal appeal and trademark rallies while spurning the kind of sophisticated data operation that was a centerpiece of Barack Obama’s winning White House runs.
“I’ve always felt it was overrated,” Trump said. “Obama got the votes much more so than his data processing machine. And I think the same is true with me.”
He also ruled out for the first time the option of taking public financing for his campaign, money that would have saved him the time-consuming task of raising vast sums but would have dramatically limited the amount he would have been able to raise.
“I don’t like the idea of taking taxpayer money to run a campaign. I think it’s inappropriate,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.