If it can be said – and it’s said a lot – that hardly anyone fills out their ballot in the quadrennial national election for president based on who the second name on the
respective party tickets is, it can be definitively stated that no one bases their primary vote on who potential vice presidents might be.
The most obvious reason for the indifference being the actual party nominee hasn’t been nominated yet by the voters.
Sports gamblers and prognosticators often peruse team rosters and schedules in order to forecast who will win divisions, make the playoffs – or prevail in the Super Bowl or World Series – but until the umpire actually announces “Play Ball” or the referee blows the whistle to initiate the kickoff on Opening Day, nothing has been determined. At all.
The 2024 Republican presidential contest has been the most unusual in recent memory due to the utter lack of a meaningful horserace between contenders. Donald Trump established an early lead and hasn’t surrendered it, largely staying out of his own way in the process. Now, a few days ahead of the Iowa caucuses, many in the media have resorted to dribbling over who will finish second in the early states.
As would be expected, there’s also a fair number of whispers concerning who Trump will eventually opt to run with, the vice president being the highest ranking appointed position in any administration. It’s an important decision, one that can’t be taken lightly.
“Former President Donald Trump, the heavy favorite to win the Republican presidential nomination, is looking for a running mate in his quest for the White House. His supporters have eagerly joined the debate over the No. 2 spot on the theoretical Republican Party ticket.
“Mr. Trump, 77, has unequivocally rejected another run with Mike Pence, who, as vice president, parted ways with him over the divisive events of Jan. 6, 2021. Mr. Trump’s loyal followers want Mr. Trump to select a candidate who will meet MAGA standards.
“Some of the top names mentioned are women who have either worked in Mr. Trump’s administration or have shown dedication and loyalty to his political movement.”
Yes, this is true. For months, some of the top names floated by politics followers, gossip columnists, Trump-hating establishment media personalities in pursuit of ratings and serious political commentators looking for legitimate scoops -- and the credibility that goes along with being “first” to accurately pin down Trump’s thought process -- have busied themselves assembling and delivering their own hypothetical lists.
Such harmless speculation is fun and stirs meaningful discussion among the Republican faithful, most of whom deny they have a preference at this point but also don’t mind talking about the subject. Since Donald Trump is the runaway leader in all the polls leading up to the first real votes being counted next week, why not try and pick Trump’s brain to debate on which way he might be leaning?
For conversations sake, Ms. Ferrechio mentioned a handful of possibilities: Arizona's Kari Lake, South Dakota's Kristi Noem, Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, fellow Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley (of South Carolina and the United Nations), Florida Representative Byron Donalds, fellow 2024 GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy (of Ohio) and, as a wildcard, fellow Republican presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis of Florida.
I’d add former Trump HUD Secretary and fellow 2016 Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson to the purely academic exercise of pinpointing Trump’s deliberations. Carson would truly be a selection from out of the blue, but if the Michigan native were to receive the nod, my guess is conservatives’ reactions to the news would be generally positive, the biggest drawback seemingly being gentle Ben’s age (72) and paltry executive governing experience.
If you require brains, solid cultural values, intrinsic “diversity” and a willingness to openly defy conventional wisdom in your veep choice, Carson is your guy. But Vivek Ramaswamy would also satisfy the criteria, and the Ohioan entrepreneur isn’t even out of his thirties yet.
As for the pols Ferrechio did name, here’s thinking only a couple have a legitimate chance to be “the one”, in my view. Former 2022 Republican Arizona gubernatorial candidate (she ended up losing due to very evident election shenanigans) Kari Lake would seemingly be a perfect personality fit for Trump’s MAGA 2.0 administration, but the former TV news anchor would serve as a lightning rod of controversy if she were his vice president.
Both Lake and Trump offer unfiltered reflections of the way things are in America today, which endears her to the heartiest of MAGA backers, but is her no-holds-barred ultra-aggressive spiel a little too much for Trump to hope to manage? Trump needs to be the sole star of his show and wouldn’t want to share the spotlight with someone who could potentially upstage him in quotes and ambition. Lake is that type of person. She’s a sparkplug.
For this reason and others, Kari Lake won’t be Trump’s veep nominee. Do I know it for sure? No. Call it a hunch.
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, on the other hand, has frequently been put forth as a possible Trump second-in-line by many observers, myself included. And among the many factors in her favor is the fact she appears to desperately want the job – and she limits herself to saying the right things in public so as to not disqualify her potential candidacy before the caucuses and primaries even get started.
Iowa’s governor Kim Reynolds has similar conservative bona fides to Noem, but the Iowan ended up endorsing Ron DeSantis, so she’s automatically out of the veepstakes. As of today, I believe Noem is the favorite to receive Trump’s blessing, but it’s still early and time and events will influence his ultimate choice.
There appears to be some buzz lately about Trump potentially looking at Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene to run with him, but nothing I’ve seen indicates the rumors are serious. Similar to Kari Lake, MTG is quite deft at attracting media attention and condemnation for being outspoken and fearless, but are these qualities enough for a man who’s determined to Make America Great Again to ponder adding Greene to the ticket?
Every presidential nominee searches for a vice president who’s ready to step into the top job at a moment’s notice (okay, Kamala Harris doesn’t work here, but it was senile Joe Biden who chose her, right?), but is MTG really that person? To my knowledge, she’s never even run for an executive office, so what makes anyone think the blonde Georgian could be that kind of leader?
She’s ideological to the core, but not someone who would automatically engender a great deal of confidence in the ticket. MTG won’t be the one.
Neither will Nikki Haley. The one-time 2024 GOP also-ran vaulted into position to fill the party establishment’s running lane, drawing endorsements from the anti-Trump bluebloods and staying just close enough to Trump to not alienate him too much. The 45th president hasn’t been impressed by Haley’s too-evident play to be his vice president, however, having nicknamed her “Birdbrain” and dismissed rumors outright that she’s under consideration.
Can you see Donald Trump settling for Nikki Haley in the name of electability (she supposedly polls the strongest against senile Joe Biden for the Democrats)? Here’s thinking Trump may be leaning towards naming a woman as his vice president, but any of the ones he’s already vetting would do just as well as nincompoop Nikki would do. Haley’s about as deep as a puddle and changes her political stripes to meet any particular situation.
Plus, she doesn’t know much about the causes of the Civil War despite being from powder keg South Carolina.
Nikki Haley won’t be Donald Trump’s vice president, and she’ll have to do quite a bit of post-primary race schmoozing to even be in the vetting for a cabinet post. Trump isn’t immune to a praise job, but anyone can see phony Nikki Haley coming from a mile away.
I was surprised to see Florida Representative Byron Donalds listed with this group, not that Donalds isn’t capable and talented and a qualified-to-the-hilt conservative, but because Donalds seems more in line to be Speaker of the House someday than he does Donald Trump’s vice president. If Donalds were chosen, the establishment media would simultaneously commence a smear campaign of epic proportions, accusing Trump of adding the 45-year-old to the ticket simply because he’s black. It’s the same charge any minority candidate would have to endure – or a female candidate.
And it’s not like Kamala Harris wasn’t selected because of her gender and race. Oh yeah, she really was! Republicans don’t do identity politics – especially Donald Trump.
The last two names mentioned in Ferrechio’s story are 2024 GOP candidates Vivek Ramaswamy and Ron DeSantis. I don’t believe Trump will choose Ramaswamy for his vice president because Vivek is too new to American politics, draws controversy like bears to a honey-filled beehive and wouldn’t appeal to the party establishment. So much for hypothetical “unity”.
Likewise, Trump won’t choose Ron DeSantis because there’s too much bad blood between the two now – and DeSantis’s temperament doesn’t lend itself to being Donald Trump’s righthand man. DeSantis theoretically would be most interested in the best platform to position himself for a post-Trump 2028 run, and being vice president, at least in his case, is a step down from being a successful governor of Florida for such a purpose.
It's doubtful than many Iowans or voters in New Hampshire will be giving much thought to who their candidate might choose for vice president should he or she manage to win the Republican nomination. It certainly appears as though Donald Trump will win the race going away, but even then, there’s plenty of time to think about who will replace Mike Pence in the role. Discussion is healthy, isn’t it?
Note: During his town hall forum on Fox News on Wednesday night, Trump indicated that he’s already made up his mind on who his veep will be, but of course, would not tip his hand. We’ll find out… soon?
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