Trump urged to periodically release lists of possible Cabinet appointees to generate headlines and draw contrast with Biden administration

 January 10, 2024

Given former President Donald Trump's commanding lead over his Republican primary challengers and status as the presumptive GOP nominee for 2024, there has been plenty of advance speculation about who Trump might pick to be his running mate and potential vice president.

To reduce such wild speculation and, when necessary, counter the media's narratives, Trump should periodically release lists of not just his possible VP selections but also of prospective candidates to fill important positions in a future Cabinet, according to a Fox News op-ed from Hugh Hewitt.

The conservative author, cable news pundit, and talk radio host suggested the multiple lists of potential VP and Cabinet member candidates, if strategically timed in their release, could help capture the public's attention and shift it away from his legal woes over the coming year, which are sure to be excessively covered negatively by the left-leaning mainstream media.

Trump should start naming possible Cabinet picks

Working under the presumption that former President Trump has, for all intents and purposes, already unofficially won the Republican Party's presidential nomination, Hewitt surmised that Trump will need to quickly shift into "general campaign mode" and then take action on a periodic basis to generate headlines and draw attention away from his legal troubles.

One way Trump could effectively do that would be to borrow a page from his winning 2016 playbook and reprise a variation of the famous list of judges he would consider as potential Supreme Court justices -- nevermind that none of the listed judges ended up on the highest court but instead were appointed to other federal benches -- that arguably helped Trump achieve victory in that presidential cycle.

"If in this cycle Trump first names his VP selection early -- which will help with fundraising and messaging -- and then announces an intention to release every month or so more potential appointees for crucial jobs, he will underscore the fact that Americans are electing not just a president but 3,000 political appointees," Hewitt wrote.

Using the Defense Secretary position as an example, it was further suggested that each Cabinet-level list of prospective choices should "accompany a review of the Biden administration’s appointees in that department and their failures" so as to highlight and draw contrasts in their differences.

Some critics might argue the candidate lists are illegal

In that Fox News op-ed, Hewitt further remarked that the periodic Cabinet candidate lists released by former President Trump throughout the 2024 general election cycle would not only attract additional supporters but also "refocuses the public and media on the failures of the Biden years."

"If Trump impresses upon the electorate the seriousness of the times via the seriousness of his potential cabinet and senior staff, Democrats will be left chanting 'threat to democracy' as Trump lays out his agenda and the people he is likely to ask to carry it out," Hewitt wrote.

To be sure, there would undoubtedly be some critical outcry against what Trump was doing and some may even suggest that the lists are an unlawful violation of 18 U.S.C. § 599, which prohibits candidates from "directly or indirectly" promising or pledging specific appointments to specific individuals "for the purpose of procuring support in his candidacy."

That particular statute may not be applicable, however, in that Trump would not be seeking to garner the support of the individuals included on the lists but rather from voters who liked or supported those individuals.

Furthermore, Trump would not be prematurely promising or pledging those appointments to any one person but instead would simply be notifying the voting public that those people would merely earn his consideration for a particular post and were not guaranteed to be selected.

An idea worthy of consideration

Hewitt's idea is an interesting one and has some merit as, if employed correctly, the lists of possible candidates for particular Cabinet and senior administration positions could serve to counter the media's narratives about the former president's alleged criminality and refocus the public's attention on what a prospective second term might look like.

The conservative pundit is also correct that such candidate lists from Trump would also likely prove quite effective at drawing a clear distinction between his hypothetical administration and the current crop of appointees and senior officials under President Biden.

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