In the latest twist to an unpredictable presidential campaign, two retired high-ranking military officers are in the mix as possible vice presidential picks for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
Retired Adm. James Stavridis, the former supreme allied commander of NATO who had a reputation as an innovative thinker on strategy and policy, is being vetted as a possible running mate for presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, The New York Times reported.
And though his chances appear to be fading, retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn is also considered a contender as a vice presidential pick by presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence are also considered potential running mates for Trump.
The 61-year-old Stavridis declined comment on his political ambitions and referred calls to the Clinton campaign, which also declined comment, The New York Times said. Stavridis, a 1976 "distinguished graduate" of the U.S. Naval Academy, is now dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.
Stavridis, a career surface warfare officer with experience commanding destroyers, destroyer squadrons, and the Enterprise carrier strike group, retired in 2013 after he was cleared of charges of official wrongdoing. Based on an anonymous tip, the Defense Department's Inspector General's office investigated Stavridis on allegations that he "engaged in misconduct relating to official and unofficial travel and other matters" involving a trip with his wife during his NATO command to the French wine country.
He was later exonerated by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, who said "I have determined that Adm. Stavridis never attempted to use his public office for private gain nor did he commit personal misconduct."
Flynn, a 33-year Army intelligence officer whose last post was as head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, was at the conservative Heritage Foundation on Wednesday to promote his book "The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies."
Flynn, an outspoken critic of the Obama administration, claims that he was forced out as head of the DIA for questioning the strategy in the campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Media reports at the time said that he left because of disputes over his "management style" and vision for the DIA.
Now a national security adviser to the Trump campaign, Flynn has said that he has submitted information to the campaign for vetting as a potential vice presidential running mate and would accept the nomination if picked by Trump.
Flynn, 58, a "distinguished" graduate of the Reserve Officer Training Corps at the University of Rhode Island, told Fox Business Network on Wednesday that "I'm not campaigning for a job here, I'm campaigning for this country. This country is something that I deeply believe in, and I believe the direction that we have been taking for the last eight years is so wrong."
White the vetting of Stavridis by the Clinton campaign came as a surprise, the two were on the same wavelength when Clinton was secretary of State in their advocacy of "smart power" -- the combination of the military, diplomacy and developmental aid in confronting world crises.
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.