Thursday, July 14, represented Donald Trump’s first test as the would-be commander-in-chief of the United States. He failed it badly. Facing the unexpected need to react to the carnage in Nice, France, on the eve of his vice-presidential announcement, Trump stumbled, froze, raged, and ultimately beclowned himself on a global stage. The man who would command America’s armed forces couldn’t keep a secret, waffled on his decision, and rushed to declare war on an unknown enemy.
Trump’s first operation—selecting and announcing a running mate—revealed a complete lack of command, control and communications. After endlessly attacking Hillary Clinton over her email practices, the Trump Army couldn’t keep The Donald’s evangelically-blessed choice of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence secret for even 24 hours before the planned Friday morning unveiling. When the news leaked before Trump had even formally extended the offer to Pence and his fellow contenders, Trump decided to use the bloodbath in France as a smokescreen for his bungling. As Kelly O’Donnell reported for MSNBC, the supposedly tough-talking, $10 billion man moved his announcement event to Saturday not out of respect for the dead, but out of cowardice:
Sources tell NBC News that Donald Trump was watching news coverage from his Beverly Hills home Thursday and was described as surprised and "irritated" that news organizations were identifying Pence as his choice early in the day.
Those sources said that by mid-afternoon, after the initial news reports, he had still "not informed" the other two men on his final list -former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie -- that a final decision had been reached. Trump spoke to Gov. Christie after 4:00pm in what was described as a "tense" conversation where a Pence pick was discussed but a final decision was not communicated.
By about 5:00pm, sources said Trump had not personally made the offer to Pence to join the ticket. But by that time, other signals, movements and the Indiana governor's arrival in the New York City area on a private plane appeared to signal that the choice had been made.