Trump Postpones VP Announcement After Truck Attack In Nice, France

Jul 14, 2016
Originally published on August 1, 2016 12:07 pm
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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

This attack in Nice has already had political ramifications here in the United States. And to talk more about that, NPR's Mara Liasson is on the line with us now. Hi, Mara.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Hi, Ari.

SHAPIRO: Well, earlier this evening, you confirmed the speculation surrounding Donald Trump's vice presidential pick. And then he announced that the pick is postponed. Tell us what has happened.

LIASSON: He announced that - first he had tweeted that he was going to announce his vice president tomorrow in New York at 11 o'clock. More recently, he has said that he's delaying the official announcement because of the attack in France.

What we do know from a campaign source is that Mike Pence, the governor of Indiana, was on a plane to New York. He might have already landed. And exactly what he's going to do when he gets there - I guess he'll have to cool his heels now. That also means that Trump could change his mind because in an interview on "Fox News" tonight, he said he hasn't made his, quote, "final final decision yet." Complicating this even more for Pence is that he only has until noon tomorrow to file the papers in Indiana to get his name off the ballot for re-election for governor of Indiana.

SHAPIRO: So there are so many moving pieces here. What do you expect we will see happen tomorrow?

LIASSON: Well, he - there's not going to be an announcement. Trump might make some comments about the attack in France. I don't know when the vice presidential announcement is going to be rescheduled.

But what this does tell us, assuming he sticks to the choice he's made to put Pence on the ticket - it tells us that Trump is capable of doing something very un-Trump-like. He didn't follow his gut, an approach that he has said always works for him.

This time, he did the traditional thing. It appears that he followed the advice of his campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his new pollster and advisor Kellyanne Conway, who has worked for Pence in the past, and his children, who thought Pence was the best pick, and the Republican establishment, who when faced with the choices - the top choices for Trump were Newt Gingrich, Chris Christie and Pence, they were most comfortable with Pence. They thought he would be the most unifying pick. So if picking a vice president is the first presidential-level decision any candidate makes, this tells us Trump can take advice and he can occasionally act like a traditional candidate.

SHAPIRO: Now, as news of this attack in Nice was unfolding, Donald Trump was on the phone with a cable news network, speaking live and reacting to it. These incidents have unfortunately happened frequently enough now that there appears to be a political playbook for how to respond. What can you tell us about the way we are seeing the candidates react?

LIASSON: Well, it's interesting because Donald Trump has reacted in different ways. He often gets way ahead of himself, calls it a terrorist attack before we know whether it is or not. Sometimes - after the attack in Orlando, he congratulated himself for being right about terrorism, although after the shootings of the Dallas police officers - a different kind of terrorism - he was very silent.

So it's unclear what he's going to say tomorrow. I'm sure he'll have something to say. He has cast himself as the toughest on terrorism - the law and order candidate - in the past. If this was a traditional campaign, we'd say that attacks like this always favor the Republicans because they have an edge on national security. But that has not always been what's happened in the polls after terrorist attacks in this - in this campaign.

SHAPIRO: We also have a statement just within the last hour from President Obama, who was briefed on the attacks. Because we're live, I don't know if you have the statement in front of you. If not, I've got at my fingers.

LIASSON: Well, I can - actually, I will look it up. I know that I have it, but why don't you - sorry.

SHAPIRO: Well, he says, on behalf of the American people, I condemn with strongest terms...

LIASSON: Yes. Here, I see it. Yes.

SHAPIRO: ...What appears to be a horrific terrorist attack in Nice, France, which killed and wounded dozens of innocent civilians. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and other loved ones of those killed, and we wish a full recovery for the many wounded.

LIASSON: Yeah, and we're waiting to see what he's going to do about coming out and actually talking about this. He has a pre-recorded town hall on community police relations that's airing tonight. But we expect that we'll also see the president fairly shortly.

SHAPIRO: NPR's Mara Liasson, I'm sure we will talk with you more as this story continues to unfold. Thanks very much.

LIASSON: Thank you.

SHAPIRO: That's NPR's Mara Liasson. And we will continue reporting on the situation in Nice, France, where tonight a truck driver accelerated into a crowd of people celebrating Bastille Day. More than 70 people have been killed, many more wounded. We'll have more details to come with eyewitnesses and more on the investigation. Stay with us. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.