Let's start by acknowledging that Florida Gov. Rick Scott and his spokespeople have said time and time again that he's not interested in being Republican billionaire Donald Trump's vice president.
"I'm going to pass," he told CNN's Erin Burnett last week when she asked what he would do if Trump personally asked him. "I'm going to do everything I can to make sure he wins. Both for our state, if he wants anything done nationwide, I will do anything I can to make sure he wins. But I'm going to stay in this job and finish this job and have a good partner in the White House."
But that's hard to believe when for the past five months, he's been courting The Donald's fickle heart hard. He's written gushy letters about Trump's ability to fix America, tried to push him on friends and enemies, and even made an idiot of himself on MSNBC's Morning Joe trying to defend the candidate's comments on Muslims. At this point, Scott's denials sound more self-protective than sincere, like someone who doesn't want to look like a loser if he doesn't get asked to the dance.
After basically cinching the GOP nomination when the last two Republicans competing against him, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, dropped out last week, Trump has had more time to think about who he wants at his side when they hand him the nuclear codes, and it seems the endless spectrum of possibilities includes Scott.
In an interview with the New York Times, Trump briefly praised Scott, Kasich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as possible contenders. Trump also told MSNBC he'll go down the "political route" when choosing a vice president, saying he has the "business talents," but needs "somebody that can help me with legislation and somebody that can get things passed and somebody who has been friends with the senators and the congressmen."
Some Florida media outlets have found a Trump-Scott ticket laughable, with the Sun Sentinel comparing the potential match to "tuberculosis picking leprosy," while other outlets, like the Washington Post and the conservative National Review, have seriously considered a Vice President Scott, including him in various speculative lists. Despite Scott's protests, we think he's definitely a possible maybe. Our picks: Kasich, Christie, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, erstwhile 2016 candidate Ben Carson and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
Scott's harmless enough on TV and could help carry Florida. However, there is the fact of his lower poll numbers and the awkward "latte liberal" incident from earlier this month. Christie has probably the closest personality to Trump, but has an awful approval rating, while Kasich would help carry the important state of Ohio, though he was pretty vocal about disagreeing with the billionaire. Fallin and Gingrich have both expressed admiration for Trump, and Fallin would help the Republican candidate with women (Gingrich: not so much!). Palin and Carson are both wild cards who, like Trump, are easy to underestimate but are dangerous to completely dismiss. (See more pros and cons on our handy Trump Rundown Trading Cards.)
Scott and Trump certainly have some similarities, says Susan MacManus, a political science professor at the University of South Florida.
"The common thread is both have strong business backgrounds and their No. 1 priority is improving the economy," she says. "They both have a 'jobs, jobs, jobs' mantra, which in a way makes sense. Every exit poll done so far in primary elections through the states finds that for Democrats and Republicans, the No. 1 issue is the economy."
What Trump will have to consider, though, are studies that show vice presidential picks often don't get presidential candidates enough extra votes to win an election, MacManus says.
"History is filled with people added to a ticket just because of the state they represent," she says. "What we're seeing is that the VP pick can't help you all that much, but if you pick the wrong person – [one] that, say, does embarrassing things – that can hurt you."