People were flummoxed last week when President Donald Trump appointed Vice President Mike Pence as response director to the growing coronavirus outbreak in the United States, due to the Vice President's abysmal record on health and science.
It almost seemed like Trump was setting Pence up for failure.
According to one Democratic political strategist, that's exactly what he's doing.
CNN Political Analyst Paul Begala said in an interview on Monday that Trump would dump Mike Pence from his 2020 ticket in favor of his former U.N. Ambassador and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley.
Begala even predicted the exact date Trump would make the announcement.
"This is not a prediction. It's a certainty. On Thursday, July 16, that's the date the Democrat gives his or her acceptance address — on that day, to interrupt that narrative, Donald Trump will call a press conference at Mar-a-Lago. He's going to dump Mike Pence and put Nikki Haley on the ticket to try to get those suburban moms."
For his part, Trump has repeatedly vowed that Mike Pence would be Vice President for his second term, but the once-moderate Haley's far-right swing over the course of her tenure in the Trump administration has been the source of speculation for months now.
Haley has denied the rumors as well—sort of.
Like Begala, some think Trump saw the coronavirus as the perfect excuse to set Pence up for failure, and save enough face to break his promises and appoint Haley as his 2020 running mate.
Does anyone else think Trump made Pence responsible so Trump can blame him if/when things go wrong? Meanwhile, Nikk… https://t.co/CyTVuca4S4— Kayley (@Kayley)1582764440.0
My prediction: if things get bad with Coronavirus, Trump will make Pence the scapegoat and replace him on the ticket with Haley.— ReaganRepublican (@ReaganRepublican)1583160917.0
Is it not possible that Trump picked Pence to head up the coronavirus efforts because he knows that it will inevita… https://t.co/3bry5vTBQJ— Hutch (@Hutch)1582762074.0
@RepMarkMeadows @Mike_Pence @VP is an anti-science, unqualified collaborator. He isn’t classy, he’s absent. Derel… https://t.co/Gpfvaq8hPH— 💧 Joanne J 😷 (@💧 Joanne J 😷)1583140792.0
Next Trump will blame Pence for his failure and choose Nikki Haley as his running mate.— Lady Diana M (@Lady Diana M)1583075668.0
The illegitimate, fake President has set up Mike Pence as his fall-guy for the Coronavirus response. When Pence fa… https://t.co/FmbE1lLBaC— Brook Peterson (@Brook Peterson)1582814437.0
Prediction: trump puts Pence in the no win plan so as to dump him & add Haley 4 the general. We all know Trump won’… https://t.co/51aDEHD4sx— Kim Cummings (@Kim Cummings)1583070934.0
Trump's history with his supporters indicates that the plan, if existent, would work.
If Pence fails in his response to the coronavirus, Trump would blame him completely and his firing of Pence would not only absolve him to his supporters, but bolster the reputation for firing people he'd crafted for years on his reality television shows.
We'll know for sure on July 16 if Begala was right.