From a Michael Collins report:
The attorney Donald Trump has chosen to help select his vice-presidential running mate is known by friends and acquaintances as an unpretentious, easy-going Tennessee native who has moved for decades within Washington’s power circles but prefers not to call attention to himself.
A.B. Culvahouse, they say, is the opposite of the bombastic, over-the-top New Yorker.
“He’s a common-sense, get-it-done lawyer (who) knows Washington and government well and is as honest as the day is long,” said Tom Ingram, a longtime political consultant in Tennessee. “I just can’t think of anybody better for Trump to ask to play a major role like this.”
U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, who has known Culvahouse for years, said he can think of no attorney more accomplished in law and in government than his fellow East Tennessean, who as White House counsel guided President Ronald Reagan through the dark days of the Iran-Contra scandal.
“If I were in trouble with the government or the private sector,” Alexander said, “the lawyer I would want to hire would be A.B. Culvahouse.”
In his new role, Culvahouse will be responsible for interviewing Trump’s list of potential running mates, delving into their backgrounds to spot potential problems, then telling the presumptive GOP nominee who would make the best vice president.
Culvahouse heads into the job fully aware of its challenges and pitfalls. He has helped potential running mates navigate the vetting process in four presidential elections. He led the vice presidential vetting process for the 2008 GOP nominee, Arizona Sen. John McCain, and was soundly criticized when McCain picked then-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, whom many considered woefully unprepared for the job.
“He was vilified, to a degree, over that,” said longtime acquaintance Fred Marcum. “But you are always going to have people who may not like whatever choice you make. That’s why there’s chocolate and vanilla. Nobody likes the same thing.”
…For all of his success in law and in politics, Culvahouse, 67, hasn’t let Washington change him and still possesses the values instilled in him while he was growing up in rural East Tennessee, his friends say.
Culvahouse was born, fittingly, on the Fourth of July and raised in tiny Ten Mile, an unincorporated speck on the map that straddles Meigs and Roane counties and is now a summer cottage community for nearby Watts Bar Lake. Over dinner recently, Culvahouse shared with Alexander that he was looking forward to returning to Ten Mile for his 50th high school reunion.
Culvahouse’s entrée to Washington came in 1973 when then-Sen. Howard Baker Jr. — a legend in Tennessee politics and a powerhouse in Congress — hired him as his chief legislative assistant and counsel…. When Reagan tapped Baker as his chief of staff in 1987, Baker announced Culvahouse would join him at the White House as Reagan’s counsel.