Welcome to VP Watch, NBC's roundup of the latest news about each presumptive nominee's search for a running mate.
Top headlines: The GOP
Mike Pence noted on Thursday that he has “not agreed with everything that [Trump has] ever said,” but urged Republicans to “come together.”
Pence also brushed off the beef between Trump and Ted Cruz as the “tough” parts of a competitive primary, like “rubbing is racing” in NASCAR.
Gingrich defended Trump after his Star of David tweet fiasco.
Christie will fly to Miami with Trump Friday, though a NJ news site is throwing cold water on his VP chances.
Trump is visiting Rick Scott's home state of Florida on Friday.
Top headlines: The Democrats
Per NBC’s Monica Alba, the Clinton campaign is reportedly in full VEEPStakes mode, hunkering down in Clinton’s Whitehaven DC house today with key advisers.
The Clinton campaign announced she will campaign with Tim Kaine next Thursday in Northern Virginia.
More VP News: The GOP
MIKE PENCE: Pence reiterated on Thursday that “nothing’s been offered and obviously nothing’s been accepted” — though he said earlier that he is "providing them with information as requested.”
After a spray of questions from the press corps on Thursday, Pence appeared comfortable in taking on questions about controversies spurred by his potential running mate. At a county fair north of Indianapolis, Pence called Sen. Jeff Flake “a very good friend” after a reporter asked him about Flake’s reported confrontation with Trump in a private meeting with other senators over some of Trump’s controversial statement in the last year. Pence noted that he has not “agreed with everything that [Trump has] ever said” but eased into his defense that the party needs to “come together around our nominee.”
And asked about Cruz’s unleashing of criticism on the day of the Indiana primary two months ago — in which Cruz called Trump, in part, a “pathological liar” and “amoral,” Pence attributed the tough words to the “competitive primary process, saying, “In NASCAR, they say rubbing is racing. Competitive primary, things can get a little tough sometimes.” He also expressed hope Cruz would join in supporting Trump: “I think it’s important for every Republican to get on board with Donald Trump.
NEWT GINGRICH: Gingrich defended Donald Trump’s Star of David tweet in an interview with CNN, saying Trump’s “not going to back off” and that the candidate would continue to respond to controversy by calling out media bias. "A substantial part of the campaign is going to be -- if you think the news media is honest and fair and totally neutral, then you ought to vote for Hillary. But if you think the news media is biased, then join me," he said. He also railed against the FBI’s decision not to recommend charges against Hillary Clinton, calling it evidence of how “corrupt” government is and likening Clinton to Richard Nixon.
JOHN THUNE: Thune attended Trump’s meeting with GOP senators and described it as a “frank discussion” like you have “inside the family.” He also said that Trump chastising senators who don’t support him was his way of uniting the party.
JEFF SESSIONS: Sessions also attended Trump’s meeting with GOP senators and described it as a “great exchange,” defending Trump against questions about why the candidate can’t seem to stick to one message. “He's done real well with the American people and obviously, you know, critics can suggest what they like about how somebody should conduct themselves but he's done pretty darn well,” Sessions said.
BOB CORKER: Corker was at Trump’s Capitol Hill meeting and described it as “encouraging,” telling reporters he felt attendees were able to get a sense of the “nuances” of Trump’s policy positions. He also touted Trump’s wide appeal as a boon for the GOP, saying that “when you have somebody who can win Michigan and Mississippi in one day, that's a big change for the Republican Party.” He spoke on Morning Joe about his decision to bow out of vice-presidential consideration, saying that “I think that’s a job others may be better suited at doing.” Corker also offered some advice for Trump: “What I hope that Donald trump is going to be able to do — and I think he will — is build [his message] into a hopeful message over time.”
CHRIS CHRISTIE: NBC News’ Kelly O’Donnell is reporting that Christie will fly with Trump to his Miami rally on Friday, what’s become Trump’s typical vetting activity as he finalizes his vice-presidential pick. But NJ.com, citing two sources close to the VP vetting process, reported Thursday that Christie’s unlikely to be chosen by Trump as his VP.
RICK SCOTT: Trump returns to the governor’s home state on Friday. Last month on a campaign swing in which Trump visited six states with GOP governors at the helm, Scott was the sole Republican governor to appear publicly with him.
More VP News: The Democrats
TIM KAINE: Let the veep auditions continue: The Clinton campaign announced that next Thursday, July 14th, Kaine will campaign with Hillary Clinton in Northern Virginia. It will be their first time on the trail together since before the Virginia primary earlier this year. Just two days ago, Kaine told reporters in Richmond, "I don’t have any plans right now to do any event that I’m aware of in the next couple of weeks. The schedule just keeps kind of coming together a week or two in advance but no plans now.” Plans change quickly. Kaine has been an ongoing surrogate for Clinton — on the trail or not — and he headlined a conference call fundraiser for Clinton today.
Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders told Bloomberg that he “would be pleased” if Clinton picked Elizabeth Warren as a running mate, but wouldn’t talk about the Virginia senator. "I don’t want to comment on Tim Kaine,” he said.
Also, Mother Jones has an extensive story out calling Kaine “a natural fit for Clinton,” pointing out “behind the Virginia senator's moderate reputation is a history of quiet progressive activism."
SHERROD BROWN: Brown is returning to Ohio this weekend, launching “My Brother’s Keeper” mentoring programs in both Akron and Cleveland. Brown played first baseman on a Senate softball team “Blue Collars” tonight, via Twitter.
ELIZABETH WARREN: In a Bloomberg interview today, Bernie Sanders said he would be “pleased” if Clinton selected Warren as her VP. Sanders was cooler on Kaine as noted above.
Interestingly enough, Warren released a video yesterday afternoon acknowledging Newt Gingrich’s increased presence as a possible Trump VP pick…while choosing to highlight a cause where the two agreed in the past: NIH Funding.
Warren also, in a new video, reiterated her strong dedication to fighting TPP, causing many columnists to argue anew that Warren will likely not be Clinton’s VP.
SECRETARY TOM PEREZ: Interesting article from The American Prospect about how Perez represents the ongoing Democratic rift between President Obama and presumptive nominee Clinton/parts of the Dem base on the Trans Pacific Partnership.
XAVIER BECERRA: NBC News’ Kate Snow interviewed Becerra today and the Dem congressional leader continued to defend Clinton in the wake of FBI Director James Comey’s testimony today in front of Congress.
AL FRANKEN: Franken is speaking out after the death of Philando Castile, who was shot and killed during a traffic stop in a Twin Cities suburb Wednesday. "I am horrified and heartbroken by the death of Philando Castile. I am horrified that we are forced to confront yet another death of a young African-American man at the hands of law enforcement,” he wrote in a Facebook post about the incident.
On the VP front, MinnPost examines all of Franken’s potential qualifications for VP, nothing he’d be an unusual choice for an unusual election.