DemDaily: The Veepstakes!

May 21, 2024

Inside the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse last Tuesday, as former President Donald Trump regaled the crowd during a break in his hush money trial, a group of his family and supporters stood nearby behind a metal barricade --.rapt by the words of their erstwhile president.

Among those on display were North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, tech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and Florida Congressman Byron Donalds.

Ohio Senator JD Vance had been front and center the day before, as had Senator Tommy Tuberville (AL), Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis (NY) and Republican Attorneys General Steve Marshall of Alabama and Brenna Bird of Iowa -- followed by a parade of potential vice presidential contenders who trekked to New York last week to show their unwavering loyalty to the twice-impeached former Commander in Chief.

Since the March 5 Super Tuesday primaries, when Trump officially surpassed the delegate threshold necessary to secure the GOP nomination, his former primary rivals competing for VP -- if not a cabinet position -- have brazenly groveled for their place in Trump's orbit.

In what was described as "an Apprentice-style" audition, the VP hopefuls got the chance to pitch their case at a May 4 retreat for 400 mega-donors at Trump's Mar-a-Lago Palm Beach resort. Notably absent was Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who reportedly met with Trump alone the previous week.

Qualifications
Traditional factors in considering a vice presidential running mate include geography, experience, ideology, ethnicity and/or gender, age and the compatibility of the nominee and the running mate -- although not necessarily in that order.

The end equation should complement the strengths and mitigate the weaknesses of the presidential candidate and his/her partner in their quest for the White House.

In 2008, 47-year-old Senator Barack Obama chose seven-term Senator and experienced former Chair of both the Judiciary and Foreign Relations Committees, Joe Biden. Eight years later, Indiana Governor Mike Pence proved an invaluable VP choice for candidate Donald Trump as an experienced legislator with evangelical and conservative credentials.

In the court of Donald, however, there can only be one King and his running mate must prove unflinching loyalty to the Crown above the Constitution.

There happens to be no shortage of candidates willing to publicly debase themselves for the privilege while retracting what may be unforgivable criticisms of Trump during the primary debate.

The Contenders
South Carolina Senator Tim Scott: The only Black Republican in the US Senate, Scott, who previously attacked Trump for not supporting a federal abortion ban, was a featured guest at the Mar-a-Lago retreat and has regularly campaigned with Trump. Among his many reversals in principle -- an unwillingness now to say if he would have ratified the results of the 2020 election.

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum: The multimillionaire, who proclaimed his new-found support for Trump's election conspiracy allegations at the Mar-a-Lago donor retreat, is reportedly moving up the list. According to Axios, Trump “likes Burgum’s measured demeanor and his gubernatorial experience — and sees Burgum as reliable and low-drama.”

Florida Senator Marco Rubio: In March, NBC reported that Trump was considering the three-term Latino Senator. While calling the prospect “an honor and an incredible opportunity,” Rubio maintains there has been no communication with the Trump campaign.

Ohio Senator JD Vance: Vance, who in 2016 declared himself a “Never Trump guy” and wondered if Trump might be “America’s Hitler,” was among the first of the rumored contenders to show up for the beleaguered ex-president at the Manhattan trial, and has attended private fundraisers with the candidate.

Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (NY): A devoted acolyte and election denier, the Republican Conference Chair has been a vocal voice for Trump in Congress and ardent defender of the former president's legal troubles. The 39-year-old, also a prolific fundraiser, could be an asset in countering Trump's negatives among suburban women regarding his high-profile conviction(s) for sexual abuse and misconduct.

Vivek Ramaswamy: The only primary contender to proactively defend Trump during the debates, the tech entrepreneur continues to campaign on his behalf, and is presumed to be gunning for a cabinet position.

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem: The top pick for VP (tied with Ramaswamy) at the March CPAC conference, Noem has reportedly fallen out of favor for her "absolutist" view on abortion -- as opposed to Trump's new, downplayed states rights stance -- and other extremists positions. More significantly, she has met with nationwide backlash for bragging she killed her unruly 14-month puppy in her newly-released book.

Arizona Republican Senate candidate Kari Lake: A former TV news anchor and MAGA cheerleader, she lost the 2022 GOP gubernatorial race to Democrat Katie Hobbs by less than 1%. Although now a candidate for the open Senate seat vacated by Kyrsten Sinema, Lake reportedly is raising funds nationally with an eye on the vice presidency.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis: Although still a favorite in polling, DeSantis has said he has no intention of serving as VP but has left open the possibility of another White House run in 2028.

WildcardFormer South Carolina Governor and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley: Both Trump and Haley, who ended their primary battle on a bitter note, have ruled out a ticket and Haley has not endorsed the former president since suspending her campaign March 6. The former southern governor, however, continues to rack up votes in the primaries, pulling over 20% from Trump to date, further fueling the abundance of rumors among the media.

Mentions
* Florida Congressman Byron Donalds: Conservative two-term African American representing Southwest Florida
* Former Health & Human Services Secretary Ben Carson: Trump Cabinet member who could be helpful with Black and Christian voters
* Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders: former Trump WH Press Secretary and daughter of former Governor Mike Huckabee
* Former Democratic Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI), now a right-wing voice on conservative outlets
* Texas Governor Greg Abbott
* Alabama Senator Katie Britt
* Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA)

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Kimberly Scott
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Sources: Forbes, CBS, ABC, Politico, NewsNation, NewYork Magazine, NY1, Saturday Night Live

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