7 Key Points from Trump’s VP Short List


Former President Donald Trump has reportedly condensed his vice presidential shortlist to seven candidates, gauging interest through campaign vetting materials.

Trump’s choices can be unexpected, as evidenced by his selection of former Vice President Mike Pence, which was kept largely secret before its announcement. Nevertheless, some insights can be extracted from the reported semifinalists in the veepstakes.

No Vivek Ramaswamy or Tulsi Gabbard

Two figures popular with hardcore MAGA populists seem to be out of contention for now—Vivek Ramaswamy, the entrepreneur presenting himself as a young Trump 2.0, and former Hawaii Democratic congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who departed her party for leaning too far left, despite having supported Bernie Sanders previously.

Gabbard’s progressive past might be too contentious for a Republican ticket, similarly to how John McCain ultimately passed over Joe Lieberman in 2008, paving the way for Sarah Palin.

While Ramaswamy has supporters, he’s annoyed many Republicans during primary debates. Pairing Trump and Ramaswamy might not add the desired ideological or factional balance, although it would increase demographic diversity.

JD Vance, the Last MAGA True Believer Standing

Despite being critical of Trump in 2016, freshman Ohio Republican Senator JD Vance is now a strong advocate for economic populism and nationalism, matching Trump’s stance on trade, immigration, and foreign policy.

Vance, endorsed by Trump in the 2022 Ohio Republican Senate primary, endorsed Trump early in this cycle, lauding his non-engagement in wars during his first term in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. Vance could be influential in staffing a potential second Trump administration.

Three Black Candidates

In 2020, Trump garnered nearly one in five votes from Black men and aims to improve that number in 2024. With many nonwhite voters dissatisfied with President Joe Biden and inflation, this demographic could be crucial.

Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL), and former HUD Secretary Ben Carson each offer unique advantages.

Scott emerges as an optimist, contrasting Trump’s “American Carnage” narrative and potentially appealing to former Gov. Nikki Haley’s supporters. However, his presidential campaign has lost momentum despite early promise.

Donalds, charismatic and less traditional than Scott, faces scrutiny over his comments on Black voting patterns during Jim Crow and criticism of Florida’s Black history standards, which may test his preparation for higher office.

Carson is an intriguing choice given Trump’s trust and respect for him. As a retired brain surgeon, Carson could connect with evangelical Christians, a key demographic for Trump. At 72, however, Carson’s age parallels Trump’s, which may not address concerns about the age issue in politics.

Two Floridians

With both Donalds and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) hailing from Florida, Trump faces 12th Amendment limitations since electors cannot vote for both a president and vice president from the same state. Moving residence is an option Trump might consider, given his multiple residencies, though legal challenges could complicate this.

Rubio, who has aligned more closely with Trump personally and ideologically post their 2016 primary clash, might face resistance from Trump’s base due to his past support for immigration amnesty and a more hawkish foreign policy. Nonetheless, Rubio would position himself well as Trump’s successor.

One Woman

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) is the sole woman on the shortlist. Despite initially having a complicated relationship with Trump, particularly around the Access Hollywood scandal, she has become a staunch supporter. Choosing Stefanik might help Trump win back suburban women and possibly put New York in play, although the latter remains a long shot.

Pence 2.0?

Gov. Doug Burgum (R-ND) might leap from being a minor candidate to Trump’s vice-presidential pick. Though from a small, traditionally secure state for Republicans, his business success and conventional political demeanor could appeal to Trump, reminiscent of his choice of Pence.

With qualities fitting Hollywood’s mold of a vice president and a steady political record, Burgum might serve as a stabilizing force, akin to former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who was also considered in 2016.

Surprises Always Possible

Trump’s shortlist might be a strategic feint, as he remains known for unpredictability. Calls for Haley or DeSantis continue until an official running mate is declared. Speculation also includes Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and others.

Trump hints at deciding near the Republican National Convention, keeping his choice under wraps to sustain suspense until then.

W. James Antle III
W. James Antle III
Executive Editor. He was previously politics editor of the Washington Examiner, managing editor of the Daily Caller, associate editor of the American Spectator, and senior writer for the American Conservative.

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