— -- The possibility of appearing to pander is among the reasons Donald Trump would be unlikely to pick a woman or a minority as his vice presidential running mate, his campaign chairman says.
In an interview with The Huffington Post, Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort offered some insight into how the presumptive Republican nominee might pick his campaign partner.
Manafort said that selecting a woman or minority, which some have suggested as a way for Trump to strengthen ties to those voting groups, probably won't happen.
"In fact, that would be viewed as pandering, I think," Manafort said.
Trump commented on the issue at a news conference later this afternoon, saying that Manafort "was misquoted a couple of times," without going into specifics.
When asked by ABC News whether he would have a woman or minority as his vice president, Trump did not rule it out.
"I think it's likely we would have somebody, but we don't do it for any specific reason. We're looking for absolute competence. I fully expect that we will have many women involved," Trump said.
Trump has tried to appeal openly to those communities throughout the campaign, regularly asserting that he loves women, while his controversial Twitter post on Cinco de Mayo was widely criticized as an attempt at outreach.
Manafort went on to portray the race as Trump’s to lose.
"He's going to win... unless we — meaning people like me — screw it up. This is not a hard race," Manafort told The Huffington Post.
Manafort formally joined Trump's campaign in April as its convention manager, but his role has shifted and grown as it became clear that Trump would be the presumptive nominee.
He has also been known to predict a changed Donald Trump who has not necessarily materialized, at least not immediately.
Manafort said in late-April that Trump would be softening his tone, though there’s little evidence.
In The Huffington Post interview, however, Manafort said Trump has "already started moderating on" his initial proposed temporary ban on Muslims entering the United States.
Indeed, after five months of talking about the Muslim ban, Trump said on May 11 the idea was "just a suggestion."
"He operates by starting the conversation at the outer edges and then brings it back towards the middle,” Manafort said. “Within his comfort zone, he'll soften it some more.”
But there’s at least one thing Manafort doesn't see changing: Trump's unwillingness to release his tax returns.
"I will be surprised if he puts them out,” Manafort told The Huffington Post. “I wouldn’t necessarily advise him to. It’s not really an issue for the people we are appealing to.”