Political adviser Beth Myers headed up the process for Mitt Romney. Washington lawyer A.B. Culvahouse managed the selection for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). Now, Corey Lewandowski will have that responsibility for Donald Trump.
Lewandowski, Trump’s traveling confidant and campaign manager, will be in charge of the team that will survey and vet potential vice-presidential candidates for the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, two top Republicans said.
The two Republicans familiar with Lewandowski’s responsibilities spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss their private conversations with the Trump campaign, which is planning to ramp up the vice-presidential search in the coming weeks.
Lewandowski formally took charge of the hunt for a running mate last week and has since been described inside and outside of the campaign as the point person for all related questions and meetings, the Republicans said.
For the moment, he is coordinating the list of possibilities and conversing with key party figures but will soon involve a larger group of Trump allies and staff members who will contribute to the secretive selection process, they added.
Lewandowski was not reachable Tuesday and a spokesperson for the Trump campaign declined to comment.
When asked how the post would affect Lewandowski’s day-to-day activities, one of the Republicans said that Lewandowski will continue to serve as campaign manager and described the vice-presidential selection an addition to his portfolio.
Other senior Trump aides -- such as Paul Manafort, Michael Glassner and Rick Wiley -- will still be working daily with Lewandowski, but they will focus more on convention planning and bolstering the campaign’s national field operation, that Republican said.
Lewandowski’s role is unsurprising because he is close to Trump and managing the campaign. What is unusual is that the job of running the vice-presidential search is usually held by a lawyer who is trusted by the candidate.
Lewandowski, a longtime political operative, is not a lawyer, although the Republicans said they expect lawyers and possibly a law firm to help vet Trump’s short list.
“We’ll have standard vetting questions and there are firms that could help us do this,” Trump told The Washington Post in an interview this month. “There are people that do this professionally. We’ll get there and we’ll do standard vetting.” He declined to get into details, such as whether he would require tax returns or other specific documents from contenders.
Trump’s team of vice-presidential search advisers is expected to include retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, a former GOP rival who has emerged in recent weeks as an influential Trump ally.
“He’s part of the team. Ben is a fantastic guy, I’ve become very friendly with him and have tremendous respect for him. He came in early and said there is a movement, I’d like to be part of it. He’s a good person and a smart person and he’ll be involved in lots of things,” Trump said in the interview.