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And the winner of the Donald Trump veepstakes is …

The Republican veepstakes is drawing to a close and Donald Trump will reveal the winner Friday. The candidate was still meeting Wednesday with potential running mates and found himself hitting back at his newest critic, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 83. “Her mind is shot,” he said. Susan Page of USA Today and Robert Costa of The Washington Post join Judy Woodruff.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    For Republicans, the countdown to their national convention in Cleveland is on, with a major focus on who will be the vice presidential choice.

    The party's nominee-to-be spent this day working to answer that question.

    Donald Trump and Indiana Governor Mike Pence, after meeting this morning in Indianapolis. Pence also appeared with Trump last night at a rally.

    GOV. MIKE PENCE (R), Indiana: We are ready to put a fighter, a builder, and a patriot in the Oval Office of the United States of America. We're ready for Donald Trump to be our next president.

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions met with Trump today, too, as did former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. He had served as warm-up act in Ohio last week.

    On FOX News yesterday, Gingrich likened the veep search to a certain reality show.

    NEWT GINGRICH (R), Former Speaker of the House: It's a little bit like "The Apprentice." You find out sooner or later who is the last one standing is.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    New Jersey Governor Chris Christie huddled with the candidate yesterday, after campaigning with him Monday in Virginia.

    Trump told The Wall Street Journal yesterday that he wants a running mate who can go on the attack to answer the attacks on him. That means going after his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. She appeared today in Springfield, Illinois, where President Lincoln long ago warned of a house divided. Clinton singled out Trump.

    HILLARY CLINTON (D), Presumptive Presidential Nominee: His campaign is as divisive as any we have seen in our lifetimes. It is built on stoking mistrust and pitting American against American.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    But Trump is also taking fire from an unexpected quarter, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In recent days, she told The New York Times — quote — "I can't imagine what the country would be with Donald Trump as our president."

    Ginsburg made similar remarks in other interviews, and Trump fired back in an early-morning tweet. He said Ginsburg — quote — "embarrassed all by making very dumb political statements about me. Her mind is shot. Resign."

    It was amid that furor that Trump's camp said he was aiming to make a final running mate decision by Friday.

    And we unpack it all now with Susan Page, Washington bureau chief for USA Today, and Robert Costa, national political reporter at The Washington Post.

    And there's a lot to talk about, but, Susan, let's start with the veep search on Donald Trump's part, very public. What do you make of this process, including his children, and all these interviews? And does it come down to these three or four people?

  • SUSAN PAGE, USA Today:

    This is just one more way in which Donald Trump has changed the way we view politics, how politics works.

    The vice presidential search is usually something that's very coy. They're talking to the people who are being talked about, say they're not interesting or try to tamp down speculation about it. In this case, we have had tryouts in front of our eyes about whether they can be at a rally with Trump, how they connect with him.

    So that has been different, and I think that's been a good thing. I think we're seeing now is a debate between Donald Trump's head and his heart, because his head says Mike Pence is a guy who rounds out his resume, who gives him some unity with parts of the Republican Party like evangelicals and Tea Party types that he does haven't the best relationships with.

    But I bet his heart is saying Gingrich or Chris Christie or just guys he would prefer to be around and rather see in that debate against Hillary Clinton's vice presidential candidate.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Robert Costa, what are you learning about all this? Where do you think Donald Trump is right now in this?

  • ROBERT COSTA, The Washington Post:

    I think Susan's spot-on with her analysis.

    What I'm hearing from Trump campaign associates is that Pence is at the top of the list for many of the family members who traveled with Trump today in Indiana. Paul Manafort, the campaign chairman, is also said to be inclined toward the Indiana governor.

    But that means — that doesn't necessarily mean that Trump has made a decision. He's flying to California tonight with a populist conservative from Alabama, Senator Jeff Sessions. And he is continuing to try to think through his options, wondering whether he wants an attack dog or, as Susan said, someone to round out that resume.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Well, Susan, so what does that say to us that it's narrowed down to these four, and including, as Robert said, Senator Sessions from Alabama?

  • SUSAN PAGE:

    Yes, and we're not quite sure why Senator Sessions is on that list. He was an early supporter, and this may be a way to say thank you to Senator Sessions for standing with him.

    It tells us he chose only men. The standard political calculation would have had a woman in that mix as a finalist, especially since Donald Trump had some trouble with women voters. He didn't do that. And it's people who want to be on the ticket with him.

    He's not coaxing somebody who's reluctant to be on the ticket. He's going to choose somebody who is out there comfortable auditioning for it.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Eager for it.

    And, Robert Costa, what do you make again of the process? I mean, it stuck that he has his grown children in these meetings. How typical is that?

  • ROBERT COSTA:

    It's atypical.

    Trump doesn't really function with a normal political organization. He counts on his family for counsel and some advisers. But this is someone who operates by making a lot of phone calls, bringing in friends and different people who he's been with throughout his life and soliciting their advice, their take on the vice presidential search.

    And he's getting a lot of political calculations thrown his way, but what's most important to Trump, if you read his books or if you speak to him himself, he wants a rapport, he wants a connection, someone he can trust.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Susan, let's turn to — well, we will find out soon enough. We're told it is going to happen either Thursday or Friday of this week.

    Let's turn to this really remarkable, I guess, series of criticisms that the Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has launched on Donald Trump. Very unusual.

  • SUSAN PAGE:

    Never in modern times have we seen these kind of exchanges.

    When justices in the past have had a slip of the tongue, as Sandra Day O'Connor did on election night in 2000, it hasn't been the kind of deliberate attempt we have seen by Justice Ginsburg. She didn't just say this once. She said it to the Associated Press, and then she said it The New York Times, and then she said it to Joan Biskupic.

    So, this was a message she wanted to get out. And it's managed to get The Post and The Times to editorialize on Trump's side. So, that is something very rare in this election season.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Robert Costa, how is the Trump campaign seeing this? As somebody who covers politics, how unusual does it look to you to hear a Supreme Court justice going after a political candidate?

  • ROBERT COSTA:

    It is unusual.

    But inside of the Trump campaign today in Indiana, they are framing the justice's comments as condescension, condescension that Trump may try to use, in his mind, for political advantage by running as someone who's politically incorrect, anti-establishment. They think this kind of battle playing out in public could be useful to Trump in the coming months as he tries to solidify himself as someone who is an outsider.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    That's my question, Susan. What kind of — does something like this have consequences down the road?

  • SUSAN PAGE:

    I'm not sure this is very — I'm not sure this has big consequences.

    I think if you agree with Justice Ginsburg, you probably think, hey, great, I'm glad she spoke up. If you disagree with her, you're probably on Trump's side. There are going to be a lot of things that are very important in this election. And I think this is one of the things that's more interesting of the moment than something with lasting political consequences.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    The last thing I want to ask you both about is what's been going on already in Cleveland this week, and that is meetings of different Republican committees.

    One of them has to do with the convention, one of them, Robert, having to do with the platform. It is looking to be a pretty conservative document. What do we know about that? What does that say to us? Should we even be paying attention to it?

  • ROBERT COSTA:

    The platform is very ideologically conservative.

    And this is a way the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee believe they can make an overture to the elements of the Republican Party that are disgruntled about Trump's nomination. And they are saying, look, Trump may be more centrist and populist on a lot of these issues, but when it comes to the party, we're still down the line, even hard-line conservative.

    What's most important here is that the Republican National Committee is trying to tamp down any kind of revolt or uprising among these delegates against Trump. And Republican Chairman Priebus is working closely with Trump to ensure that doesn't happen.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    So, they're using this as a way to tamp down disagreement?

  • SUSAN PAGE:

    But they're creating big problems for themselves with some of the groups that after that — in that autopsy they did after the 2012 defeat, they said they needed to do — they needed to do, for instance, more to reach out to young people, to African-Americans, to Hispanics, to gay people.

    This platform doesn't do any of that. The stance on gay rights, on gay marriage is more conservative than the platform that was enacted in 2012. So, in terms of appealing, say, to millennials, this is not going to do the Republican Party any good.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    You were telling me that it has even language in there about requiring — looking at conversion therapy for individuals who are gay.

  • SUSAN PAGE:

    It has language that approves of parents using this controversial technique called conversion therapy for their gay children. That's something that even Chris Christie signed a law banning.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And just quickly, Robert, so are these things that we can expect Donald Trump to try to implement?

  • ROBERT COSTA:

    Unlikely.

    If you look at Donald Trump, he had a phone call in recent weeks with Caitlyn Jenner. He's someone who comes out of Manhattan. He's comfortable with people of all different backgrounds and orientations. He's not a social conservative. He's never really been a traditional social conservative, but he's running to be the standard bearer of a party the Times Square has moved increasingly to the right.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Well, some interesting questions. And we will be looking at it at the convention next week.

    Robert Costa with The Washington Post, Susan Page with USA Today, we will see you both. Thanks.

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