Monday, July 15, 2024

Donald J. Trump’s Future Running Mate Options

Donald J. Trump hasn’t won a single primary or caucus vote yet, let alone the Republican nomination, but his lead in the polls has left much of the political world viewing his nomination as all but inevitable. It has also inspired a fair amount of speculation about who might wind up on a 2024 ticket beside him. It will almost surely not be former Vice President Mike Pence, who crossed Trump by certifying the 2020 election results. While Trump has not begun formal veepstakes talks, he has casually weighed the pros and cons of some contenders with friends and advisers. His team has discussed possible parameters, like whether a woman on the ticket would help win back suburban women who abandoned him in the last election, or if choosing a person of color would be a smart choice, given the gains he saw in 2020 with Black and Hispanic men. Either way, Mar-a-Lago courtiers generally agree that any résumé for the No. 2 spot on the ticket must include some Trump-specific requirements that defy demographics: absolute loyalty to the Trump brand, a willingness to filter every decision and public comment through a subservient lens, and the know-it-when-you-see-it “central casting” look the former president prizes. Here’s a look at some possible contenders.

The Political Veterans

Household names in national politics, these are some of the figures most often floated as possible running mates. Tim Scott A senator from South Carolina, Scott ran for president but dropped out in November. Al Drago/EPA, via Shutterstock. Pros The only Black Republican in the Senate, he is one of the party’s most prodigious fund-raisers, and one of its most well-liked figures. Scott has often leaned on his faith, which could help ease evangelicals’ concerns about Trump. Some have been depressed by Trump’s eagerness to blame them for the party’s losses in 2022 and by his lack of passion for their anti-abortion priorities. Cons He’s not on anyone’s list of Trump’s most vocal supporters. He said when he dropped out that he had no intention of endorsing another candidate, but that could always change. Scott’s inability to produce memorable moments in three primary debates might not bode well for a potential face-off against Vice President Kamala Harris, a former prosecutor.

Nikki Haley Haley, a former United Nations ambassador under Trump and a former governor of South Carolina, is running for president against him. Samuel Corum for The New York Times Pros She has proved to be a skillful debater and formidable campaigner. As her state’s first female governor and the nation’s second governor of Indian descent, she would diversify a Trump ticket. Her executive experience on economic issues as governor and her handling of foreign policy issues in Trump’s cabinet could prepare her well for a debate with Harris. CONS Trust could be a problem after she endorsed a rival of his in 2016 and entered the 2024 race against him, accusing him of pursuing “chaos, vendettas and drama” and saying a younger president was needed. Her ambition could spook a man reluctant to share the spotlight. Trump’s nastiness toward her – he has relentlessly called her “birdbrain” – could be a barrier.

Tom Cotton A staunch and provocative conservative, the Arkansas senator has been seen as one of the Republican Party’s rising figures. Doug Mills/The New York Times Pros At 46, he’s three decades younger than Trump. He’s a decorated military veteran with a substantial foreign policy résumé. Trump has shown interest in Cotton before: He considered him for a cabinet post. Cons He voted to certify the 2020 presidential election, which has become Trump’s most important political litmus test. He’s a foreign policy hawk, which might not align with Trump’s often isolationist, “America First” views.

Marco Rubio The Florida senator, a rival to Trump in 2016, has hummed along as a reliable Trump ally and leading Republican voice on foreign policy issues. Scott McIntyre for The New York Times Pros Experienced on the national stage, Rubio is a known quantity. His pro-Israel, anti-Putin track record is particularly timely. He is a fluent Spanish speaker, and his Cuban heritage figures prominently in his political bio. Rubio and Trump have quietly had a close relationship for years. Before Trump was voted out of the White House in 2020, he was considering Rubio as a possible secretary of state nominee. Cons Rubio has never quite fulfilled the expectations that many Republicans held for him — and that he helped stoke — after his underdog Senate victory in 2010. He very publicly said he didn’t want to be considered for Trump’s ticket in 2016. What could disqualify him is the central role he played in a 2013 immigration overhaul effort that, even a decade later, remains anathema to the Republican base.

Mike Pompeo Pompeo, a former congressman from Kansas, was a fixture in the Trump administration, first as C.I.A. director and then as secretary of state. Al Drago for The New York Times Pros He has more high-level experience than most of the other contenders. He would provide geographic balance as a Midwestern presence on the Republican ticket. Cons In his memoir about his time in the administration, Pompeo criticized the former president’s handling of Vladimir V. Putin, said Trump had a “nutty” plan to put him in charge of the Departments of Defense and State, and revealed that tough talk about China had upset Trump. Pompeo had considered a 2024 presidential campaign, which Trump viewed as a sign of disloyalty. Before deciding not to run, he publicly warned Republicans to move on from “celebrity leaders” with “fragile egos.”

The Loyalists

For any potential Trump sidekick, a track record of accomplishments is nice to have. A track record of fealty may be even more important. J.D. Vance The best-selling author and former venture capitalist is now a senator from Ohio, thanks largely to a Trump endorsement. Maddie McGarvey for The New York Times Pros He and Trump resolved their differences and have become particularly close. Vance is one of Trump’s most vigorous defenders, which sets him apart in a Senate populated with skeptics of the former president. Both are immigration hard-liners who also share similar views on trade. Cons He’s much younger than Trump, but he wouldn’t add any gender or ethnic diversity to the ticket. Ohio is no longer a presidential battleground. Vance is fiercely anti-abortion, which could add to the party’s difficulties on that issue.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders Trump’s former White House press secretary, she parlayed the exposure that gave her into the Arkansas governor’s office. Doug Mills/The New York Times Pros She is a young, female Republican who is widely well-regarded in the party. She learned the ins and outs of the West Wing while becoming a MAGA star as the administration’s lead spokeswoman. She endorsed Trump in November. Cons Trump resented that it took her a year to endorse his 2024 campaign. A minor scandal in Arkansas over the purchase of a $19,000 lectern was the sort of unforced error that presidential campaigns try to avoid.

Kristi Noem A popular governor and a former congresswoman, Noem has welcomed speculation that she could be invited to join the ticket. Jamie Kelter Davis for The New York Times Pros A telegenic Midwesterner, Noem could help connect with suburban women in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, states where Mike Pence spent much of his time in 2016. A two-term governor, she has a record of economic accomplishments in her state that could resonate with voters in 2024. Cons She is untested on the national stage. She has close ties to Corey Lewandowski, the longtime on-again, off-again Trump adviser, whose brushes with the law have generated unwelcome headlines for Team Trump.

John Ratcliffe A former House member from Texas who served as the director of national intelligence in Trump’s administration. Doug Mills/The New York Times Pros A former prosecutor, Ratcliffe made a name for himself grilling Peter Strzok, an F.B.I. agent, over text messages mocking Trump before the 2016 election. Trump still talks about those texts on the campaign trail. He was rated as the most conservative legislator in Texas by the Heritage Foundation. He remains close to Trump and would be viewed as a solid choice for the position. Cons He turned down a chance to become attorney general when Trump approached him about the position after the 2020 election. He warned the Trump White House team against trying to overturn the 2020 election, according to one staff member’s sworn testimony to Congress. He is not so well known among Trump supporters that his presence on the ticket would energize the base.

Kari Lake Lake, a prominent election denier, narrowly…

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