Trump and his family meet with VP finalists as decision looms

Stranded after his plane suffered mechanical problems, Donald Trump on Wednesday held a succession of private meetings in Indianapolis with those believed to be on his shortlist for running mate.

Trump, along with his adult children, met briefly Wednesday morning with Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and his wife at the governor’s mansion. Returning to a downtown hotel where he spent the night after a campaign rally Tuesday night, Trump and his family later met with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. And CNN reported that Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, a close Trump ally, was flying to Indianapolis for a sit-down with the GOP candidate and his family.

A source close to the Trump campaign told Yahoo News that the GOP hopeful also had a Wednesday morning phone call with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. The governor, who campaigned with Trump on Monday, was in Washington, D.C., where Trump had been expected to travel today before heading to California for a two-day fundraising swing. A Trump spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.

The series of meetings in Indiana’s capital came as Trump’s decision on his veep pick appears to be imminent. Multiple sources have said Trump expects to appear with his chosen running mate on Friday, though the decision on who will be joining the GOP ticket could be made public sooner.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump leaves the Indiana Governor's residence with Gov. Mike Pence July 13 in Indianapolis (Photo: Michael Conroy/AP)
Donald Trump leaves Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s residence in Indianapolis on July 13. (Photo: Michael Conroy/AP)

Arthur Culvahouse, a longtime GOP hand who screened potential nominees for John McCain and Mitt Romney, is leading the VP vetting process for Trump. But the New York real estate mogul has indicated in recent days that his “gut” will ultimately drive the decision. He is also weighing input from his advisers and family, who, according to sources close to the campaign, are split on which candidate would be a good fit with Trump — an insurgent candidate whose unlikely campaign has upended the Republican Party.

Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign chairman and top adviser, is said by sources to be championing Pence, a former Republican congressman and staunch conservative who some suggest could help Trump woo mainstream Republicans wary of his campaign. Manafort has privately expressed concern about whether Christie and Gingrich, two powerful personalities with their own political brands, have the ability to be disciplined team players behind Trump heading into the fall.

Trump’s children, meanwhile, are between Christie and Gingrich, according a Republican familiar with the deliberations. The candidate’s sons, Eric and Donald, Jr., are said to be leaning towards Christie, a longtime Trump family friend who quickly endorsed Trump after his own failed bid for the presidency ended and who has remained loyal to him in spite of withering criticism from fellow Republicans. Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, who has emerged as one of his father-in-law’s closest advisers, are said to like Gingrich’s legislative experience and his unwavering support for Israel — though they have not formally championed any candidate as of yet, according to the source.

Trump publicly campaigned with Pence on Tuesday night, marking the first time he and the Indiana governor shared a stage. At one point, Trump, who is said by those close to him to be truly undecided about whom to pick as his running mate, poked fun at his indecision. “I don’t know if he’s going to be your governor or vice president,” Trump said of Pence at the Indiana rally. “Who the hell knows?”