The objection to being on a Donald Trump ticket amounts to a rare, public rebuke.

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It’s a time-honored tradition for politicians to deny any interest in the vice presidency. But this year, with the possibility of Donald Trump as the Republican presidential nominee, they really mean it.

“Never,” said Chris Schrimpf, a spokesman for Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, who is still running against Trump. “No chance.”

“Hahahahahahahahaha,” wrote Sally Bradshaw, a senior adviser to Jeb Bush, when asked if he would consider it.

“Scott Walker has a visceral negative reaction to Trump’s character,” said Ed Goeas, a longtime adviser to the Wisconsin governor.

Or, as Sen. Lindsey Graham put it, “That’s like buying a ticket on the Titanic.”

Many leading Republicans, including Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina and Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, have been emphatic publicly or with advisers and allies that they do not want to be considered as Trump’s running mate.

The recoiling amounts to a rare rebuke for a front-runner: Politicians usually signal that they are not interested politely through back channels or submit to the selection process, if only to burnish their national profiles.

But Trump has a singular track record of picking fights with obvious potential running mates, such as Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who has indicated a lack of interest in the vice presidency generally and has yet to reconcile with Trump publicly.

Haley and another potential pick, Gov. Susana Martinez of New Mexico, have sharply criticized Trump at recent party gatherings and do not want to be associated with his sometimes-angry tone, according to advisers and close associates who have spoken with these Republicans.

Patriotic duty

Several Republican consultants said their clients were concerned that Trump’s unusually high unfavorable ratings with all voters and his unpopularity among women and Hispanics could doom him as a general-election candidate and damage their own future political prospects if they were on his ticket.

Still, elected officials do have a way of coming around to the vice presidency, and Trump said in an interview Saturday that he was in the early stages of mending fences and building deeper relationships with leading Republicans.

In a sign of growing acceptance that Trump is their likely nominee, several Republicans made it clear they would join him on the ticket because they think he can win, or because they regard the call to serve as their duty.

Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker; Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama; and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson said in interviews that they would consider joining the ticket if Trump offered. Two governors, Chris Christie of New Jersey and Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, have also told allies they were open to being Trump’s running mate.

“If a potential president says I need you, it would be very hard for a patriotic citizen to say no,” Gingrich said. “People can criticize a nominee, but ultimately there are very few examples of people turning down the vice presidency.”

Trump, who could become the presumptive Republican nominee Tuesday by winning the Indiana primary, is just starting to mull vice-presidential prospects and has no favorite in mind, he said in the interview. Trump said he wanted someone with “a strong political background, who was well respected on the Hill, who can help me with legislation, and who could be a great president.”

He declined to discuss potential picks in detail, but he briefly praised three governors as possible contenders — Kasich, Christie and Rick Scott of Florida — and said he would consider candidates who were women, black or Hispanic. (A spokeswoman for Scott said he was focused on being governor.)

Asked if he was surprised about the array of Republicans who would be uncomfortable being his running mate, Trump said: “I don’t care. Whether people support or endorse me or not, it makes zero influence on the voters. Historically, people don’t vote based on who is vice president. I want someone who can help me govern.”

Republican woman

A cross-section of leading Republicans agrees his most sensible choice would be an experienced female governor or senator, given that he would most likely face Hillary Clinton in November and need support from a majority of white women to offset her strong support among blacks and Hispanics. Yet Clinton is ahead of Trump with white women by double-digit percentages, according to a recent CBS poll.

The pool of Republican women in major offices is relatively small, and Trump has alienated some of them. Haley denounced him for not quickly disavowing support from former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, and Martinez has criticized his remarks about Hispanics.

Both governors endorsed Rubio for president; a Martinez spokesman said she “isn’t interested in serving as vice president,” while a Haley spokesman declined to comment.

Trump’s best hope may be Republican enmity for Clinton, some Republican strategists said. They predicted Trump would ultimately have more options than his skeptics might assume because Republicans will ultimately unify in June and July with a deep and shared determination to beat her, and the traditional thrill of being considered for vice president could then kick in.

“I think he may have more choices than many people would suspect, because a lot of people will be flattered to be asked,” said Russ Schriefer, a Republican adviser to the Mitt Romney campaign in 2012 and to Christie during his 2016 presidential bid.

Schriefer emphasized that he had not talked to Christie about the vice presidency, but other Christie confidants said he supported Trump strongly and would be willing to consider the No. 2 spot.

A Christie spokesman, asked about the governor’s willingness, pointed to Christie’s response about the vice presidency at a recent news conference, where he said he would evaluate the offer “for any position in government.”

For some, the singular experience of being vice president in a Trump administration is hard to imagine. Buttonholed on Capitol Hill last week, two prominent Republican senators, Tim Scott of South Carolina and Susan Collins of Maine, almost giggled when asked if they would be Trump’s running mate.

“I’m not waiting by my phone,” Collins said.

Scott, whose appeal as a black Republican could be an advantage for Trump, repeatedly sidestepped whether he would be willing to run with Trump. Finally, asked if he would not rule himself out, he replied, “I’m not ruling myself in.”