Trump mulls VP short list | WORLD
Sound journalism, grounded in facts and Biblical truth | Donate

Trump mulls VP short list

Would-be running mates compete for the former president’s approval

From left: former President Donald Trump, Sen. Tim Scott, Gov. Doug Burgum, and Vivek Ramaswamy during a campaign rally in Laconia, New Hampshire, Jan. 22 Getty Images/Photo by Chip Somodevilla

Trump mulls VP short list

Whomever former President Donald Trump picks as his running mate will have the advantage of serving under a term-limited president.

If former President Donald Trump wins reelection, his vice president will have the political advantage of serving under a term-limited chief executive. Within four years, he or she can expect to be the presumptive leader of the Republican Party.

Trump’s vice presidential hopefuls are busy giving stump speeches and making TV appearances on his behalf. Many of them went to New York City to observe the former president’s criminal business fraud trial.

“This weekend, we had 15 people. ... They’re all out there campaigning,” Trump told Spectrum News 1 Wisconsin earlier this month. “It might actually be more effective this way because, you know, every one of them thinks they could be chosen, which I guess possibly is so.”

Each candidate could bring a different advantage to Trump such as voting blocs, experience, or loyalty to conservative causes. Christopher Devine, a professor at the University of Dayton, says that while the constitutional powers of the vice president have not changed, the significance of the role has.

“Vice presidents are often ridiculed for being unimportant or they’re often portrayed in movies as bumbling fools who can afford to be because their job doesn’t matter,” Devine said. “If there was ever any truth to that, it was always overstated, but it’s certainly outdated now. They have full access to the president and are completely plugged in as a top adviser, whether their advice is taken or not. Sometimes they provide electoral advantages, but the influence they can wield and how they can support the president is far more important.”

Trump has said he will announce his vice presidential pick at the Republican National Convention in July. Morris Fiorina, a political science professor at Stanford and senior fellow at the Hoover Institute, said it’s difficult to tell whom Trump favors in the contest.

“Ordinarily there’s a set of normal calculations people go through,” Fiorina said. “The thing about Trump is that he is so unpredictable and follows his own instincts, so I’m not sure the usual calculations apply.”

Nikki Haley, 52, former ambassador to the UN, former South Carolina governor

Despite a tumultuous primary campaign against Trump, Haley offered him a tepid endorsement in a speech in Washington on May 22. Days later, Trump said, “I’m sure she’s going to be on our team.” Haley followed up by telling reporters that she would consider a Cabinet position if Trump won. The about-face has shocked some Haley supporters, who vowed not to vote for Trump. But Fiorina described the situation as typical election-year politicking.

“The obvious person [to be Trump’s vice president] is Nikki Haley, as crazy as that sounds,” Fiorina said. “Stranger things have happened in presidential politics, and Trump is a political animal, so it makes sense. She gave it her best shot and decided that any future she has in the Republican Party requires her to make her peace with Trump. When the chips are down, that’s when the politics come through.” Putting Haley on the ticket could win back Republican moderates who have turned away from Trump.

Doug Burgum, 67, North Dakota governor

Burgum failed to stand out on the national stage during his presidential campaign, but he’s become a regular face at Trump’s side. The North Dakota governor lacks nationwide and international experience, but he has business savvy that has boosted his state’s economy and made him popular among home-state voters. The self-made billionaire could also bring money and fundraising opportunities to the campaign. Roughly a month after dropping out of the Republican primary, Burgum became an adviser on the Trump campaign’s energy policy team, and he brought several of his oil and gas contacts to Mar-a-Lago.

Elise Stefanik, 39, House Republican Conference chairwoman

An initial Trump skeptic, the New York congresswoman is a top contender for vice president. She was the youngest member of Congress at when she was elected in 2014, and she started a political action committee in 2020 to increase the number of Republican women in Congress. She served on the defense team during the Trump impeachments in 2019 and 2021. In recent months, Stefanik boosted her national profile when she harshly questioned Ivy League college presidents about anti-Semitism and riots on campuses.

According to leaked audio of a Mar-a-Lago meeting obtained by Axios, Trump called Stefanik, “a very smart person … little did I know she would be such a big factor”

Vivek Ramaswamy, 38, entrepreneur

Ramaswamy styled himself as a younger version of Trump during his presidential campaign. He insisted he could “drain the swamp” and dismantle a corrupt federal bureaucracy. Since shuttering his own bid for the presidency, Ramaswamy has hit the campaign trail almost full-time for Trump, stumping in New Hampshire and South Carolina.

“Ramaswamy’s lack of political experience could be problematic for Trump,” Devine said. “But he’s shown that they’ll really go to the mat for [Trump], and that’s going to be something he’s looking for probably above all else.”

Ramaswamy said he started out as a Libertarian and then more recently shifted conservative. At the Libertarian National Convention last month, he told delegates he could help create a “Libertarian-nationalist coalition” to reelect Trump. At a speech at the same convention, Trump promised to appoint a Libertarian to his cabinet. At a campaign rally in January, Trump said about Ramaswamy, “He’s coming to work for us, and he’ll be with us for a long time.”

Tim Scott, 58, U.S. senator from South Carolina

Another failed primary challenger, Scott quickly switched over to Team Trump. During his political career, the prominent black Republican has argued against diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, saying they harm young people of color. He frequently talks about his challenging childhood and young adulthood and about his faith. When he first won election to the U.S. House in 2010, Scott was the chamber's first black Republican from South Carolina since 1897. When then–Gov. Haley appointed him to replace a resigning U.S. senator, Scott became the first black Republican senator from the South since Reconstruction.

“He’ll bring some appeal from voters of color, but I don’t think he projects much strength,” Fiorina said. “Trump does for now, but he’s 78. He should be looking for a strong, responsible, competent person.”

For now, Scott simply says that he wants Trump to be reelected and for Republicans to win majorities in the House and Senate. He only differs from Trump on abortion: Scott advocates for extensive pro-life protections with no exception,s while Trump has said he’ll let the states decide their own abortion laws.

J.D. Vance, 39, U.S. senator from Ohio

The first-term senator once considered himself as a “Never Trumper.” But Vance also owes his 2022 election to Trump’s endorsement. He has since become a full-fledged supporter, roaming the country to stump for Trump and Trump-endorsed candidates. He often defends Trump’s claims about political persecution and stolen elections.

“J.D. Vance probably fits the profile of most loyal,” Devine said. “He has defended Trump without any exceptions and has been a high-profile surrogate for Trump, ready to go on any mainstream media talk show and vouch for Trump. He has good political skills but not a lot of experience.”

The Florida problem

Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Byron Donalds, both of Florida, have also acted as Trump surrogates on talk shows, but they face a constitutional roadblock to the vice presidency. The 12th Amendment states that the president and vice president may not be from the same state. So if they want a spot on the ticket, someone will have to set up residency outside of Florida. Rubio, also a former presidential candidate, has risen to the upper ranks of Republican leadership in the Senate, specializing in international affairs. He could help Trump appeal to Hispanic voters, who increasingly trend away from the Democratic Party. Donalds voted to object to the certification of Electoral College votes in 2020 and is a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.

Carolina Lumetta

Carolina is a WORLD reporter and a graduate of the World Journalism Institute and Wheaton College. She resides in Washington, D.C.


This keeps me from having to slog through digital miles of other news sites. —Nick

Sign up to receive The Stew, WORLD’s free weekly email newsletter on politics and government.

Please wait while we load the latest comments...