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Donald Trump's best choice for vice president

If there's one thing that's been a constant in this crazy 2016 presidential election, it's the fact that the pundits have called just about every aspect of the Trump campaign wrong. I don't say that as a non-guilty party, as I only recently realized how wrong I was to write off Donald Trump's chances of even making the general election a close race.

But here those pundits go again with their published lists of the "likely choices" Trump is expected to consider for his vice presidential running mate. Most of the "short lists" seem to be ignoring all the unconventional moves Trump has made so far. Thus, they're mostly all wrong. To save myself any further embarrassment or hypocrisy, let me say I have no idea who Trump will pick as his VP choice and I expect to be surprised. But I do think I can eliminate most of the supposed short list members while giving Trump some good running mate advice based on his best interests.

1. The woman/race card

The bulk of pundits say Trump is surely considering a woman like Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, or even former HP CEO Carly Fiorina. But I don't think Trump is going there. His entire campaign has been based on not following the politically correct norms. Choosing a woman or even a racial or ethnic minority male would mess with Trump's concerted outreach effort to disaffected, previously non-voting whites. Plus, it would damage his anti-politically correct/tough guy image by making it seem like Trump is bowing to the conventional wisdom that says he needs to improve his appeal to women and minorities. Let's be honest, will choosing a woman or minority candidate really help Trump win over those voting blocks? Any voter who identifies primarily as a woman or minority first and an American second is a lost cause for the Trump campaign. Nope, Trump should and probably will let Mrs. Clinton play the woman and identity politics card and he will try to counter-market that image instead. So, scratch Fallin, Haley and all women and male minorities off the list.

2. "Establishment" members of Congress

Another popular line from most pundits is that Trump needs to choose an "establishment Republican" in Congress to help repair the rift between them and his campaign. The most common names pundits subscribing to this philosophy are throwing out there are Senator Bob Corker, Senator John Thune, and Senator Kelly Ayotte. Ayotte is a woman, so see the paragraph above for why Trump won't pick her. And frankly, no truly establishment Republican in this Congress makes sense for Trump. The success of his campaign has very much been based on running against Republicans in Congress who Trump correctly saw that most Republican voters viewed as failures for failing to stop most of President Obama's agenda. Choosing one of them would be seen as being just too much of a "suck up" to conventional advice, plus it would connect Trump too much to a GOP Congressional group that he's already successfully branded as losers. I don't think Trump will nor do I think Trump should choose anyone in Congress now.

3. Fellow renegades

Another popular thought among most pundits is that Trump is likely to pick a running mate who matches his audacious and blunt political persona. The leading VP candidates from this group are New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Florida Governor Rick Scott, Senator Jeff Sessions, Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Senator Scott Brown, and a list of complete political outsiders like fellow billionaire Mark Cuban.

Pundits who are thinking along these lines are closer to the right track. They get that Trump is riding the successful message of his outsider brand. But I think he's already clinched that message in the same way Clinton has got the "first female presidential nominee" thing nailed down. And I also think Trump wants to be the main maverick so much that he wouldn't want to share the spotlight. In Cuban's case that would definitely be a problem.

Just as importantly, most of the "renegade" names above can be eliminated for reasons discussed earlier. Scott and Christie are extremely unpopular in their own states, Sessions is still a member of the current Congress, Brown is a two-time election loser, and Newt Gingrich still has too much "establishment Republican" associated with his brand these days.

4. A better choice

The Trump message machine still has two major jobs to do in this election: Prove he's not crazy, and win back a handful of states the GOP has lost to the Democrats in recent elections. Trump is already riding a wave of strength connected to the fact that voters from all persuasions want big changes in Washington. He's clearly more of a "change" candidate than Clinton. But change means risk. So he needs to demonstrate that he's not too risky or nuts. Many of Trump's statements over the course of this campaign challenge the notion that he has it all together. Those statements have been well calculated and targeted to certain voters, but moderate independent voters are not in that target audience. The only way to bring some confidence to those potential supporters is to make a very solid running mate choice that almost no one would think inappropriate. The key is to choose someone like that who isn't a current member of Congress or a failed establishment Republican.

It's also important for Trump to start making some gains in electoral math. He needs to win back states like Florida, Ohio, Iowa, and even Colorado, and maybe Pennsylvania. I think Trump would love to choose someone who could help deliver the biggest electoral prize of all those states, Florida. But Rick Scott doesn't work and Senator Marco Rubio is extremely unpopular in the state now too.

Nope, the only person who really fits the "not crazy/electoral help" bill is Ohio Governor John Kasich. I know, I know, Kasich is still publicly saying he isn't sure he can support Trump. And he might seem a little too establishment too. But he's not a current member of that failed Congress. And my sources tell me Kasich has been angling for the VP spot for more than a month, and this public show of hesitation about supporting Trump may not be all that it appears to be. I can see this working out nicely from a messaging perspective as Kasich can play the role of representing the millions of voters Trump hopes will be "just like John," who acknowledge their misgivings about Trump but admit he begrudgingly won them over. This makes Trump look like a winner simply by getting Kasich to agree to come on board.

And while Kasich could not garner enough national support in his presidential campaign, he did still prove he's very popular in Ohio and could absolutely deliver the key state in November. He's also the one Republican in the race who earned the most public respect from the liberal news media and Democrats. He takes a lot of the "crazy" off the ticket right away.

And speaking of well-staged scenarios, remember the GOP convention is in Cleveland and anointing the home state favorite Kasich there would go over big with the local crowd.

Again, I don't know what Trump will do. But Kasich makes a lot of sense, based on Trump's strategy and current goals. But don't be surprised if a person none of us have even considered turns out to be his choice.

Commentary by Jake Novak, supervising producer of "Power Lunch." Follow him on Twitter @jakejakeny.

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