Richard Burr settles Trump running-mate rumor

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WASHINGTON — Rumor that Donald Trump might pick North Carolina senior U.S. Sen. Richard Burr as his 2016 running mate is just that – rumor – at least for now, the Republican two-term senator told McClatchy on Thursday.

“Every name that’s been floated up to this point is speculation,” Burr said about talk that he might be short-listed as a Republican vice presidential candidate. “I don’t think any of it – to my knowledge – has any credible nexus with the campaign.”

According to The Charlotte Observer, conservative radio pundit Hugh Hewitt – a Trump supporter who has, at times during this election cycle, criticized the presumptive nominee – first linked Burr’s name to VP talks last week. Hewitt claimed to have been tipped off on Burr being a contender by someone close to the Trump campaign.

At the time, Burr’s campaign staff said only that he’s focused on his job in the U.S. Senate and on his role as chairman of that body’s powerful intelligence committee – without confirming or denying Hewitt’s speculation.

“I would suggest it’s rumor,” Burr said Thursday.

As the current Senate Intelligence Committee chairman, a past House member and a well-known voice on national security matters, Burr could bring critical political credentials to Trump’s White House race, given the presumptive nominee’s lack of experience in elected office.

Trump has said he’ll announce his VP pick at next month’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio.

“I’ve learned with Donald Trump – take him at his word,” Burr said. “If he says, ‘this will be a decision that I make and announce at the convention,’ that’s when it’s gonna be done.”

Burr said it’s his understanding that Trump’s campaign operations have picked someone to eventually vet running mates but he’s not been approached for that undertaking. He hasn’t met with Trump to discuss VP potential.

The campaign, Burr said, likely has a list of potential names. And, Trump probably has his own list “that’s in his brain, and the two may not be even remarkably similar.”

“If you look historically, for one to be on that short list – which is usually defined as three – it means that there’s been some type of personal meeting between the nominee and all three of those individuals. … I don’t think it’s happened with anybody (yet),” Burr said.