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Donald Trump visits Billings

In this file photo Rep. Ryan Zinke endorses Donald Trump before his speech to thousands on Thursday May 26 at Rimrock Auto Arena at MetraPark.

Could a Montanan be the next vice president of the United States?

U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., told KGVO radio after a Donald Trump rally in Billings that he had talked with the presumed Republican presidential candidate about joining him on the ticket.

  • “We talked about it, but he has not made up his mind,” said Zinke, who went on to discuss the electoral math. “Looking at the electoral college, I think Montana would be a stretch. He’s going to play in 15 states that Republicans haven’t played in before including New York and California.  I think he’s going to win Florida, and in Ohio he’s ahead … but you’ve got to win!”

Zinke had earlier told conservative commentary site, Breitbart, that he would “be honored to serve in whatever capacity,” whether VP or as a cabinet member. He formally announced his endorsement of Trump just a day before the rally.  

As soon as it become apparent that Trump would likely win the Republican nomination, news organizations, blogs and pundits started to speculate about who Trump might select. Many of the folks suggested as possibilities – such as Florida Gov. Rick Scott – have publicly withdrawn their names from consideration, although in politics there’s always room for changed minds. (Just look at the list of former presidential contenders who have endorsed Trump.)

Zinke has not appeared on any of the contender lists, not even the one compiled by Breitbart, which has hailed the freshman congressman as a foreign policy expert.  

The Montana congressman might be the first to openly admit he has broached the VP subject with Trump to suggest himself. Because so few presidential candidates make campaign stops in Montana – a state with few electoral votes at stake and a late primary – some have interpreted the Billings rally as evidence that Trump might be considering Zinke.

Or, Zinke’s outspoken interest in joining Trump’s ticket could simply be a repeat of his short-lived bid to become Speaker of the House.

In October, as Republicans searched for someone to unite their increasingly divided majority, Zinke raised his hand and noted that freshmen Speakers are not unheard of “though it has been a long time.” Again, pundits quickly dismissed the Montanam as a serious contender.

But as the Washington Post noted in its April, Zinke-free list:

  • The short answer: No one knows. Trump relishes being unpredictable, so trying to game out how this most unconventional of politicians will make his mind up is a bit of a guessing game. Add to that the fact that Trump's inner circle remains, largely, devoid of establishment types, and you quickly get into a situation where the people talking don't know much and the people who do know aren't talking.

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