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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.
Top row from left, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, HUD Secretary Julian Castro, bottom row, Sen. Tim Kaine, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Labor Secretary Tom Perez.
Top row from left, Sen. Sherrod Brown, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, HUD Secretary Julian Castro, bottom row, Sen. Tim Kaine, Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Labor Secretary Tom Perez.AP; Reuters; Getty

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

  • Senior Trump sources familiar with planning tell NBC News’ Kelly O’Donnell “the public event is Friday” to roll out the VP nominee, though the name could leak earlier than that. Additional sources say Trump continues to elicit opinions from aides and allies but puts the most weight on the opinions of his family and closest allies — and there remain differing opinions within Trump’s inner circle about which candidate would be the best pick. The list appears to be down to Pence, Christie and Gingrich.
  • Gingrich says he is “apparently” still on Trump’s short list — and has suspended his contract with Fox News, to avoid any apparent conflicts of interest as VP speculation around him continues to swirl.
  • Remember when Sen. Bob Corker was on this list? Aides tell NBC News he will now not even take a speaking slot at the convention.

The headlines: The Democrats

  • NBC News confirms that the Clinton campaign is vetting retired 4-star Navy Admiral James G. Stavridis as a possible VP, first reported by the New York Times. Stavridis, however, has been critical of the Iran deal that Clinton has embraced, telling Morning Joe last year, "I think the top is the verification regime, which is starting to roughly resemble Swiss cheese. You can drive a truck through some of the holes. I am very concerned about that."
  • Sen. TIm Kaine auditioned for the role of VP attack dog on MTP Daily Monday afternoon, lambasting Donald Trump on veterans and military issues, but then mentioned that he feels in his “gut” that he’ll continue to be in the Senate.
  • Clinton is also planning to attend a Democratic caucus Senate lunch on Thursday, NBC’s Kasie Hunt reports, and it’s likely that several of Clinton’s potential VP prospects — including Sens. Tim Kaine, Elizabeth Warren, and Sherrod Brown — could be in attendance.

More VP News: The GOP

MIKE PENCE — The Indiana governor’s state played host to Donald Trump on Tuesday night for the a fundraiser on behalf of the presumptive nominee’s campaign and a rally just 20 miles north of the city. Pence, his wife and mother attended the events.

On Tuesday afternoon, Pence resisted explaining how he’d address disagreements with Trump if he is selected as his running mate. “I’ve taken issue with our candidates from time to time,” he noted, but he didn’t explain how he’d respond to potential points of criticism. Pence called Trump’s proposal for a Muslim ban “offensive and unconstitutional” in December and suggested his remarks about a federal judge’s “Mexican heritage” were “inappropriate.”

But Pence was panned by a prominent social conservative leader — Family Research Council head Tony Perkins told NBC News’ Leigh Ann Caldwell at the RNC’s Platform Committee meeting today that he believes Trump “can do better,” citing Pence’s wavering support for the religious freedom bill he signed into law. "I think he can do better with someone who has not capitulated on something as fundamental as religious freedom,” Perkins said.

NEWT GINGRICH — The former speaker of the house told NBC News he is “apparently” still on Trump’s short list and that he would add “lots of grey hair” to the ticket. While under consideration for Trump’s running mate slot, Gingrich mutually agreed with FOX News to suspend his contributor agreement, freeing him to talk to other news outlets during the VP vetting process and through the convention next week.

CHRIS CHRISTIE — Chris Christie had his moment on the trail with Trump Monday, appearing with the presumptive GOP nominee at a campaign event Monday where he called for “a president who once again will put law and order at the top of the priority of the presidency of this country,” and touted Trump’s credentials. This came after Trump’s top vice presidential vetting adviser -- Washington lawyer A.B. Culvahouse -- traveled to New Jersey Saturday to meet with Christie, where as NBC News’ Kelly O’Donnell reported, they “devoted a significant amount of time discussing the George Washington bridge lane closures.”

MICHAEL FLYNN — Flynn said it’s “an unbelievable honor that I'm in the mix” for vice president on Morning Joe on Tuesday, but said on CNN that “it’s not something that I wanted to do.” Still, he said on CNN that he’d vote for Trump regardless of whether the presumptive GOP nominee chooses him for his vice president.

JEFF SESSIONS — The Associated Press profiled Sessions, finding that the Alabama senator largely lines up with Trump on most issues and would bring to the ticket “conservative credentials”

More VP News: The Democrats

TIM KAINE — Sen. Tim Kaine is a potential VP candidate who has been knocked for not having a natural inclination to act as an attack dog — a traditional role of a VP nominee — and his interview Monday afternoon with MTP Daily on MSNBC was one of the clearest examples yet of him attempting to prove that he can jump into this role and go to battle with Trump on news of the day.

Kaine quickly turned a question about Trump’s attacks on Clinton’s trustworthiness back into an assault on the presumptive GOP nominee. "As a guy who is talking about trustworthiness, this is the only American presidential candidate in recent memory who refuses to show the American public his tax returns. Let me talk about Donald Trump and the military compared to Hillary Clinton,” Kaine said. "Is that the kind of change Donald Trump is talking about to have a commander-in-chief who disrespects troops, who disrespects POWs, who breaks promises to veterans groups, brags about the money he's giving to them charitably and it turns out that that's false. The Donald Trump version of change is a version of change that this nation does not want.”

Kaine also told host Peter Alexander that he feels in his “gut” that he’ll stay in the Senate. "I got to say in my gut right now, I kind of feel like I'm going to stay in the Senate and continue to battle on Armed Services, Foreign Relations, and budget issues that make me a happy senator every day,” he said. But to note: The vice president is actually the president of the Senate.

Kaine is also one of 19 senators (including other VP possibilities Elizabeth Warren and Al Franken) who are taking to the Senate floor Monday and Tuesday to talk about the Koch brothers, the fossil fuel industry, and climate change.

SHERROD BROWN: Speculation about Sherrod Brown has also died down with the assurance that Brown’s departure from the Senate would lose the Democrats a seat in the upper chamber, a considerable concern for Clinton’s team. Brown himself says he doesn’t feel like he will be Clinton’s pick: “I don’t think she will,” he said, according to the Columbus Dispatch. “I’m not going to speculate. I’m not going to answer any questions about it.”

ELIZABETH WARREN: Warren leads — by a good margin — a new Morning Consult poll examining how potential VP picks would impact voters’ opinions of the person at the top of the ticket, but the results go in both directions. Voters are 21% more likely to support Clinton and 19% less likely to support her if Warren is chosen as VP. Mic is also out with a piece explaining the ups and downs for Clinton in choosing Elizabeth Warren as a running mate.

Warren went on a tweet storm Tuesday afternoon to lash out at House Republicans for holding a hearing on the controversial “First Amendment Defense Act” on the one-month anniversary of the Orlando nightclub shootings, legislation dubbed as another “religious freedom” bill.

Warren also celebrated her 36-year anniversary with husband Bruce Mann by writing an affectionate Facebook post about the moments when she actually proposed to him.

AL FRANKEN — And finally… “Pokemon Go” has even found its way into veepstakes chatter. Sen. Al Franken is calling on Niantic, the popular game’s developer, to address some users' privacy concerns.

TOM VILSACK — NBC News’ Kasie Hunt reports that Democrats on Capitol Hill are chatting about Vilsack and his stock is rising. Dems say that he could speak to rural white voters. A new poll in Iowa today showed Clinton trailing Trump by a hair. Vilsack will speak at LULAC in DC Wednesday.