VP Watch: The Latest in the Veepstakes

Welcome to VP Watch, NBC's roundup of the latest news about each presumptive nominee's search for a running mate.
The headlines: The GOP

It’s D-Week for Donald Trump — he’s expected to make his decision this week and announce soon thereafter to let the positive news cycle generated by his pick carry him through the weekend and into the GOP convention. But he still hasn’t yet announced his convention speakers, after promising to release the list last week, and a new name, Ret. Gen. Michael Flynn, emerged as a contender this week. Trump is never predictable — and his VP timing, and pick, may not be either.

The headlines: The Democrats
  • Labor Sec. Tom Perez hit the Sunday show circuit yet again, telling Fox that Clinton “needs to earn the trust back of the people” and “she understands” that.
  • Sen. Tim Kaine’s Spanish-language interview aired on Univision, where he smiled and passed off questions about whether he was “excited” about the prospect of being added to Clinton’s ticket.

More VP News: The Republicans

MIKE PENCE: The Indiana governor kept quiet over the weekend, not holding any campaign events for his gubernatorial re-elect bid nor taking to the airwaves for any interviews. But for the governor, this is expected to be a bright-lights week — Trump will arrive to town for a fundraiser in downtown Indianapolis on Tuesday evening before heading 20 miles north to Westfield for a rally. The deadline to name Pence as his pick is essentially this Friday, when state law requires Pence to decide whether he appears on the ballot in November for governor or vice president. He cannot appear twice.

MICHAEL FLYNN: The retired lieutenant general and 33-year Army veteran jumped into the veppstakes spotlight on Saturday. Ignited yesterday by speculation in a Washington Post report, Flynn, who oversaw the Defense Intelligence Agency until his exit in 2014, suggested on ABC News that he’d be ready to serve as Trump’s running mate if called. NBC News confirmed the campaign is officially vetting him. But his Sunday morning interview lit up a flurry of questions over his conservative credentials, a key sticking point for many Republicans who have said their support of Trump’s candidacy could hinge largely on his selected running mate.

But instead of softening skeptics, the registered Democrat did not commit to changing parties and said, when asked about abortion rights, he believes “women have to be able to choose.” And on gay marriage, he seemed to defer to peoples’ abilities to decide, saying there are things that “people do in their private lives.”

After his remarks, the pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List rejected his abortion position as “unacceptable,” saying it would “undermine the pro-life policy commitments that Mr. Trump has made throughout the campaign.”

MARY FALLIN: The Oklahoma governor appears to be heading to Cleveland with a convention role no larger than co-chair of the RNC platform committee. On Sunday morning, Fallin told CNN that she has “not been asked for specific documentation” nor had “a specific conversation with any of his staff about vice president.” She also said that she hoped the campaign “would not judge a vice presidential candidate based upon their sex, man or woman.” Fallin also spurred a flurry of tweets when she suggested in her interview that Trump has engaged in “racial healing” on the campaign trail.

NEWT GINGRICH: Newt Gingrich told the AP this weekend that though he’s being vetted for Trump’s vice president, "It's not an automatic ‘yes.’” He also suggested using a test on Sharia law to vet Syrian refugees. But despite those lukewarm comments on the position, CNN is reporting that Gingrich is “actively lobbying” for it.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: Christie will get his day in the sun Monday when he appears with Trump at a Virginia campaign stop that’s focused on veterans. Politico has a new piece out in which a number of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s aides and allies pitch his value as vice-president, but notably Trump’s first backer in the state, state Sen. Michael Doherty, says he doesn’t want Trump to pick Christie — underscoring how little-liked he currently is in his home-state. Meanwhile, nearly all of New Jersey’s lawmakers are staying home from the convention— only freshman Rep. Tom MacArthur and Christie are going.

JEFF SESSIONS: Sessions defended Trump against reports that the presumptive GOP nominee had a testy meeting with senators on Capitol Hill, saying that “he is not a timid wallflower” but “the American people are seeing a refinement in his messaging.” He also weighed in on the rumors on Gen. Flynn, saying “I’m not pushing him to have a general,” and added that if he were offered the position “I’d consider it."

More VP News: The Democrats

TIM KAINE: Sen. Tim Kaine has done a number of interviews with Univision and other Spanish-language channels in the past, but his interview that aired this morning on Al Punto (taped late last week) was the latest in what has been a procession of would-be Hillary Clinton VPs auditioning for the role on Sunday morning TV shows. Kaine gave more of his standard answers to the questions about being selected for VP, pointing to how he’s focused on helping Clinton in Virginia and happy with his current job in the Senate. But anchor León Krauze also asked — if Clinton didn’t pick him — who she should chose for the job, and Krauze even brought up Elizabeth Warren’s name. Kaine didn’t specifically respond to the Warren suggestion, but noted that this is Clinton’s choice and the former secretary has plenty of qualified Democrats to consider, comparing it to Donald Trump, where there are still a number of Republicans who don’t want to work on a team with him. On Clinton’s email saga, Kaine told Univision that there are “lessons” for everyone in all of this, including a need to improve our systems, and pointed out that Clinton has acknowledged she made a mistake.

Sen. Kaine has had a quiet weekend at home in Richmond and attended services Sunday morning at his long-time Catholic church in the city. He returns to D.C. on Monday as the Senate is back in session all week. Kaine’s real audition with Clinton on the campaign trail will be this Thursday at an event with her in Northern Virginia

SHERROD BROWN: Not much new from Brown this weekend, but Ohio reporters are noting that some labor leaders and Democrats in the state are urging Clinton to consider another Ohio Democrat for the VP job: former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray, since he “will not in any way hurt her and who in many ways might help particularly in a state like Ohio."

TOM PEREZ: Perez was on the Sunday morning show circuit again today, this time on Fox News Sunday. He said that Clinton “needs to earn the trust back of the people” and “she understands” that. An interesting interview.

CORY BOOKER: Booker appeared with Senator Bob Corker on Meet the Press today, and pushed back against the idea that Clinton is divisive on issues of race. Booker said he “patently” disagreed that Clinton was “polarizing” specifically on the issue of race. Booker primarily made the case against Donald Trump as a healing/reconciling leader for the country.

AL FRANKEN: Franken sent a statement asking the people of Minnesota to honor the memory of Philando Castile by peaceful protest, after hundreds of demonstrators were arrested and many police officers were injured Saturday night in St. Paul. "The attacks last night on state and local law enforcement that left 21 officers injured were completely unacceptable, do not advance the cause of justice, and make it more difficult for our communities to begin the long and difficult healing process,” he wrote on Facebook. "I share the pain and heartache that Minnesotans are feeling following the tragic death of Philando Castile. And I believe that a full and fair investigation of his death is a necessary first step to securing justice for Philando, his family, and his loved ones. But as we all await the results of that investigation, I ask all Minnesotans calling for change to honor his memory through peaceful protest, and to resist the temptation to engage in violence.”