Gingrich, Christie lead Trump list of vice presidential options

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Clinton, Trump nearing VP picks

WASHINGTON, July 1 (Reuters) - Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie top Donald Trump's short list to be his vice presidential running mate, sources said, but the candidate is casting a wide net that also includes several U.S. senators and other governors.

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With less than three weeks to go until his formal nomination at the Republican National Convention as the party's candidate in the Nov. 8 election, Trump's search for a No. 2 has intensified. The wealthy businessman, a political neophyte, has said he wants a political veteran to help him navigate the power corridors of Washington.

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Donald Trump through the years
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Donald Trump through the years
Donald Trump pauses in his apartment 5/20 after receiving the news that the Board of Estimate unanimously approved a 40-year tax abatement plan. Under the plan Trump will purchase and refurbish the Commodore Hotel, which closed into doors 5/18, from the Penn Central Transportation Corp. In return for his $10-million-dollar purchase and up to $100 million face-lifting investment, Trump will have no real estate taxes for 40 years.

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Real estate developer Donald Trump announces intentions to build a $100 million dollar Regency Hotel.

(Photo by John Pedin/NY Daily News via Getty Images)

Donald Trump with Alfred Eisenpreis, New York City Economic Development Administrator. Sketch of new 1,400 room Renovation project of Commodore Hotel.

(Photo by NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

Donald Trump stands behind architect's model of City Hall Plaza.

(Photo by Frank Russo/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

Donald Trump and Ivana Trump attend Roy Cohn's birthday party in February 1980 in New York City.

(Photo by Sonia Moskowitz/Getty Images)

Donna Mills and Donald Trump during 1983 Annual American Image Awards at Sheraton Center in New York City, New York, United States.

(Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)

Donald Trump attends 38th Annual Horatio Alger Awards Dinner on May 10, 1985 at the Waldorf Hotel in New York City.

(Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)

Portrait of real estate mogul Donald John Trump (b.1946), smiling slightly and facing to his right, 1983. New York.

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Boxing promoter Don King holds up the arms of Mike Tyson and former champion Larry Holmes during a press conference here 12/1. Looking on is Donald Trump. The fight will be held at the Trump Plaza Hotel.

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Donald Trump, real estate mogul, entrepreneur, and billionare poses in the foyer of his home in August 1987 in Greenwich, Connecticut.

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Donald Trump Jr. and Donald Trump during 1988 U.S. Open - September 3, 1988 at Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, New York, United States.

(Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)

Ivana Trump and Donald Trump during Mike Tyson vs Michael Spinks Fight at Trump Plaza - June 27, 1988 at Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States.

(Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)

Billionaire Donald Trump and his wife Ivana arrive 04 December 1989 at a social engagement in New York.

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Donald Trump and Daughter Ivanka Trump during Maybelline Presents 1991 Look of the Year at Plaza Hotel in New York City, New York, United States.

(Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)

Donald Trump attends 'Hoop-La' Special Olympics Basketball Game on June 25, 1992 at the Plaza Hotel in New York City.

(Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)

Donald Trump and Joan Rivers during Opening of The Rose Room in the Plaza Hotel at Plaza Hotel Rose Room in New York City, New York, United States.

(Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)

Donald Trump touches 07 April 1993 Marla Maples stomach to confirm published reports that the actress is pregnant with his child. The two arrived for Maples appearance in the Broadway musical 'The Will Rogers Follies'.

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US business tycoon Donald Trump enters the PLaza Hotel in New York past supporters 21 December 1994. Hundreds of supporters showed up at a news conference where Trump denied a New York newspaper report that the Sultan of Brunei had bid 300 million USD to buy the Manhattan hotel.

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Donald Trump and Christine Whitman during Opening of New Warner Bros. Store in Trump Plaza Casino at Trump Plaza Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States.

(Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)

Donald Trump attends Marc Jacobs Fashion Show on April 4, 1995 at the Plaza Hotel in New York City.

(Photo by Ron Galella/WireImage)

Boxing: IBC Heavyweight Title: View of celebrity businessman Donald Trump and actor Steven Seagal seated ringside during Lennox Lewis vs Tommy Morrison fight at Boardwalk Convention Hall. Atlantic City, NJ. (Photo by John Iacono /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images) 

New York real estate giant Donald Trump poses in his Trump Tower office on a giant letter 'T' on May 8, 1996.

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Portrait of Marla Maples and her husband, businessman Donald Trump, with their daughter Tiffany, as they pose together at the Mar-a-Lago estate, Palm Beach, Florida, 1996.

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Donald Trump and Ron Delsner backstage at a KISS concert at Madison Squre Garden in New York City on July 25, 1996.

(Photo by Ebet Roberts/Redferns)

Donald Trump attending Halloween party thrown by Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss at the Supper Club to kick off Fashion Week.  

(Photo by Richard Corkery/NY Daily News via Getty Images)

Donald Trump open his new building at 1 Center Park West- The new Trump International Hotel and Tower.

(Photo byJames Hughes/NY Daily News via Getty Images)

Donald Trump and his girlfriend Celina Midelfar watch Conchita Martinez and Amanda Coetzer 07 September at US Open in Flushing Meadows, NY.

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Celine Dion, husband Rene, Donald Trump & Ivanka Trump

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Entrepreneur Donald Trump and Rev. Al Sharpton speak at a ribbon cutting ceremony for Sharpton's National Action Network Convention April 5, 2002 in New York City. The group aims to further the development of civil rights.

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Donald Trump and his girlfriend Melania Knauss attend the Marc Bouwer/Peta Fall/Winter 2002 Collection show February 14, 2002 during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City.

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Donald Trump at Madison Square Garden

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Donald Trump stands on the sidelines before the start of the AFC divisional playoffs between the New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans on January 10, 2004 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. Temperatures have reached as low as 7 degrees in the Foxboro area.

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Donald Trump, Visionary Business Leader award honoree, poses with his children Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka at Fashion Group International's 22nd Annual 'Night Of Stars' at Cipriani's 42nd Street October 27, 2005 in New York City.

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Eric Trump and Donald Trump attend the Chicago Bulls vs New Jersey Nets game at the IZOD Center on October 31, 2007 in East Rutherford, New York.

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 Donald Trump delivers a speech with his son Barron after he was honored with the 2,327th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, CA, 16 January 2007.

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Portrait of former model Melania Trump and her husband, businessman Donald Trump, as they sit together at a table during the 16th annual 'Lady in Red' gala, hosted by LIFE (Leaders In Furthering Education), at the Mar-a-Lago club, Palm Beach, Florida, December 4, 2009.

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Donald Trump sands with Miss Universe 2009 Stefania Fernandez of Venezuela prior to the Miss Universe 2010 Pageant Final at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas on August 23, 2010. Miss Universe is an annual international beauty pageant and along with the Miss World is the most publicized beauty contest in the world. California clothing company Pacific Mills founded the contest 1952 and was acquired by Donald Trump in 1996.

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US tycoon Donald Trump arrives to speak at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Maryland, outside Washington, on February 27, 2015.

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Donald Trump speaks during the NRA-ILA Leadership Forum at the 2015 NRA Annual Meeting & Exhibits on April 10, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee. The annual NRA meeting and exhibit runs through Sunday.

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Real estate mogul and billionaire Donald Trump attends Golf legend Jack Nicklaus' Congressional Gold Medal ceremony in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda March 24, 2015 in Washington, DC. Trump announed on March 18 that he has launched a presidential exploratory committee.

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Businessman Donald Trump speaks to guests gathered for the Republican Party of Iowa's Lincoln Dinner at the Iowa Events Center on May 16, 2015 in Des Moines, Iowa. The event sponsored by the Republican Party of Iowa gave several Republican presidential hopefuls an opportunity to strengthen their support among Iowa Republicans ahead of the 2016 Iowa caucus.

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Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump visits his Scottish golf course Turnberry with his children Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump on July 30, 2015 in Ayr, Scotland. Donald Trump answered questions from the media at a press conference.

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U.S. President-elect Donald Trump speaks at his election night rally in Manhattan, New York, U.S., November 9, 2016.

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Singer Kanye West and President-elect Donald Trump speak with the press after their meetings at Trump Tower December 13, 2016 in New York.

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Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump poses for a photo after an interview with Reuters in his office in Trump Tower, in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., May 17, 2016.

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 Coverage of the 2016 Republican National Convention from the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, which airs on all ABC News programs and platforms. On this final night of the convention, Donald Trump accepts the party's nomination for President of the United States.

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U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump reacts to an answer his wife Melania gives during an interview on NBC's "Today" show in New York, April 21, 2016.

(REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo)

President-elect Donald Trump speaks to reporters following his meeting with Jack Ma, Chairman of Alibaba Group, meeting at Trump Tower, January 9, 2017 in New York City. President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration.

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Gingrich and Christie, both loyal to Trump at a time when many Republican colleagues want nothing to do with him, would meet his requirement for experience - but would come with minuses as well as pluses.

Other names to watch include U.S. Senators Bob Corker of Tennessee, Joni Ernst of Iowa and Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Governors Mike Pence of Indiana and Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, Republicans close to the campaign said this week.

Trump has set up a meeting with Pence this weekend, a spokesman for the governor said on Friday. The New Yorker has also met with Corker and Fallin.

"Mr. Trump is meeting with a number of Republican leaders in the run-up to the convention in Cleveland, and he has a good relationship with Gov. Pence," Trump spokesman Jason Miller said in an email response to a question from Reuters.

An experienced running mate also could help with fundraising. Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, raised more than $40 million for her campaign in June and about $28 million for her party. Trump, who largely self-funded his primary run, has not yet released June fundraising numbers.

Trump is expected to name his running mate close to the July 18-21 convention.

RUNNING MATE PROSPECTS

Gingrich, who was speaker of the House of Representatives in the 1990s and ran for president in 2012, is a popular conservative writer and speaker, and has been an important behind-the-scenes voice in urging Trump to adopt a more presidential demeanor.

But because Trump is 70 and Gingrich is 73, they could face difficulty appealing to a younger generation.

Christie quickly endorsed Trump after quitting the race early this year. A source said the 53-year-old governor has emerged as a key adviser to Trump and his campaign team. A source said Christie was instrumental in coaxing Trump to be less confrontational with a Mexican-American federal judge overseeing a fraud case involving Trump.

One clue to Christie's rising importance came earlier this week when some campaign supporters held a conference call to discuss strategy and talking points for media appearances.

A source said that during the call Christie's name was raised as someone who might comment on former President Bill Clinton's meeting earlier this week with Attorney General Loretta Lynch. As a former federal prosecutor, Christie would be a credible voice.

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Monday night's private meeting of Clinton and Lynch, the top U.S. law enforcement officer, has been criticized because Hillary Clinton is under federal investigation for using a private email server when she was Democratic President Barack Obama's secretary of state.

The source said campaign associates made clear Christie was not to be used for this purpose.

"They're saving him for the general election," the source said. "They don't want to overexpose him."

Still, many Republicans are waiting to see whether Christie is named as an unindicted co-conspirator in a 2014 case involving charges that lanes on the George Washington Bridge were closed in New Jersey for political reasons.

Corker, 63, offers Trump deep foreign policy experience as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and, like Trump, believes the Republican Party needs shaking up. His stock may have gone down, however, because he has not hesitated to criticize the candidate at times.

Ernst, a first-term senator and military veteran, could help improve Trump's standing with women. She tacitly supported rival Marco Rubio during the Republican nominating campaign, though she has promised to support the party's nominee.

Ernst, who turned 46 on Friday, said earlier this month that the Trump campaign had not contacted her.

The same goes for Oklahoma's Fallin, who was among several Republican governors who met jointly with Trump in June.

"It's an honor to be mentioned for the office of vice president. I have not had any conversation with Mr. Trump about the vice presidency," Fallin, 61, said in a statement.

Some Republicans could be considered even if they have not had recent contact with the campaign. Alice Stewart, a former spokeswoman for U.S. Senator Ted Cruz's presidential campaign, said the Texan's running mate, Carly Fiorina, was only told late in the vetting that she might be picked.

Trump's vetting is being conducted by Washington lawyer A.B. Culvahouse, a longtime fixture in national Republican politics.


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