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Trump and family meet with VP finalists

Jill Colvin
Associated Press

Washington — Republican Donald Trump has entered the final phase of his high-profile search for a running mate, arranging last-minute meetings with his finalists and family members as his staff prepares for a Friday announcement.

Trump, his adult children and key staffers huddled with one of the prospects, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Wednesday morning at the governor’s mansion, a day after the pair campaigned together in the state. They were joined by Trump’s three adult children, along with his son-and-law and campaign chair Paul Manafort, who were seen leaving the residence. Hours later, Newt Gingrich, another finalist, was spotted with Trump’s entourage at a downtown Indianapolis hotel. Sen. Jeff Sessions was spotted arriving at the same hotel not long after Gingrich left.

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Trump’s family, including Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, also reportedly met privately with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie Tuesday.

The meetings have been designed to let Trump’s family get to know the candidates better before the presumptive nominee formalizes his decision.

Pence, Chris Christie and Gingrich were said to be the final contenders for vice presidential candidate on the Republican ticket less than a week before the GOP meets in Cleveland for the formal nomination. That’s according to a person familiar with Trump’s thinking, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss the vetting process. Trump said in a Tuesday interview with the Wall Street Journal that Sessions, Trump’s top Senate advocate, is also still in the mix.

Trump has spent weeks consulting with friends and family as he weighs the most important decision of his campaign to date. He’s also brought his finalists on tour, having them opening for him at speeches and rallies.

“It’s a little bit like ‘The Apprentice,’” Gingrich, the former House Speaker, said in a Tuesday interview with Fox News Channel. “You find out sooner or later who the last one standing is.”

Trump told The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday he is looking for a “fighter skilled in hand-to-hand combat” as his second-in-command.