Who is going to be Donald Trump’s running mate? Will his top VP pick be a wildcard or safety option?

By Charlie Sawyer

Published Feb 23, 2024 at 12:42 PM

Reading time: 4 minutes

Welcome to the 15th edition of our weekly recaps for the upcoming 2024 US presidential election. This week, we’re focusing all of our attention on one gruelling, and legitimately frightening, question: Who is going to be Donald Trump’s running mate? We’ve collected information on all of the potential candidates, and we’ve decided to be very kind and run you through the contenders. Let’s just preface by saying, it’s a pretty predictable yet still disappointing line-up.

On Tuesday 20 February 2024, Trump joined Fox News Channel reporter Laura Ingraham for a town hall meeting discussion. During their conversation, Ingraham pressed Trump to reveal who his Vice Presidential running mate would be.

While the former president didn’t confirm anything, he did reveal his shortlist: Tim Scott, Vivek Ramaswamy, Ron DeSantis, Byron Donalds, Tulsi Gabbard, and Kristi Noem. Some of these names are obviously immediately recognisable, but there were a few wildcards. So, let’s get into who might be the frontrunner. And remember, Trump loves an underdog.

Tim Scott

Tim Scott is a Republican senator from South Carolina who has been overwhelmingly loyal to Trump both in recent years and during the campaign cycle. Unlike a number of the other former Republican presidential nominees, Scott’s devotion to Trump has never wavered, even amid the ongoing legal battles the former president faces.

In fact, the pair’s bromance has even got to such a point that civil rights leader Reverand Al Sharpton told The Guardian that it had become “humiliating.”

Sharpton was asked to comment on a moment when Scott appeared with the former president in New Hampshire. As Trump asked the senator a question, Scott simply replied with “I just love you!”

Speaking on this, Sharpton stated: “It’s not a fine day in my life to watch [Scott] do that. To think that we fought to see people like him, Black, become high-elected in the south… He has a right to be Republican, he has a right to [endorse] Donald Trump, but to do it in such a way that is so humiliating was troubling. Let’s put it that way. I’m going to try to be as nice as I can.”

Vivek Ramaswamy

Vivek Ramaswamy is another Republican who has been unwavering in his support for Trump. Part of me thinks this is due to the fact that his own presidential bid was such a flop, therefore he saw Trump as his only way to the White House. Either way, his positioning as a MAGA heir, Trump 2.0, and loyal follower has served him well throughout this process.

In fact, it’s been Ramaswamy who has repeatedly criticised the numerous criminal charges facing the former president, citing that the legal claims have been “deeply politicised.”

Ron DeSantis

Ron DeSantis, while definitely popular enough to secure the VP spot, has been slightly less loyal to Trump during the campaign trail. Moreover, the Florida Governor has made it abundantly clear that he does not want to serve as Trump’s Vice President.

Audio of a private call between DeSantis, his supporters and those who volunteered to be delegates for the former presidential candidate, was obtained by the New York Post and then confirmed by two external sources by CNN. In the call, a person asked DeSantis if he had any advice about the type of person the Republican nominee should choose as a running mate. After reiterating that he was not interested in the job, DeSantis responded that his criteria for choosing a running mate probably differs from Trump’s, suggesting that identity politics is more of a factor for the former president and his team.

So, looks like DeSantis might be a no-go.

Byron Donalds

Byron Donalds is a slightly lesser-known Republican serving as a representative for Florida. However, he has been a long-standing Trump supporter.

Elected in 2020, Donalds’ political focus revolves around his ideology: aggressive conservative values. Moreover, he’s one of the members of the Freedom Force, a conservative counter to the left-wing progressive group The Squad.

When asked about how it felt to be featured on Trump’s shortlist, Donalds responded: “Man, it’s cool. It’s kinda surreal. But, you know what, you just work hard, do your job, don’t worry about much else.”

“We have to have leadership that has a bold vision of what we should do and not be afraid of polls, of what people think we might need to do. We’ve got to have leadership that’s going to say tough things when we need to hear them, and we have that leadership this November in Donald J. Trump,” Donalds continued.

Tulsi Gabbard

Now, Tulsi Gabbard is an interesting potential option for VP. Once a renowned leftist who supported Bernie Sanders, the former US representative for Hawaii and US Army reserve officer is now a staunch conservative and die-hard Trump fan.

It’s safe to say that Gabbard’s political career has been nothing short of chaotic. And many commentators believe that she lacks authenticity and is simply riding the right-wing wave for now. In an interview with The Guardian, Kurt Bardella, a Democratic strategist and former Republican congressional aide, said of Gabbard: “I guess that she has no soul, conscience or moral code. It’s a situation more about the pursuit of power and relevance and notoriety and less about ideology. I just don’t think it’s possible to go so far one way and then have that pendulum swing like that. It just seems like there’s other motivations at play.”

Either way, Gabbard has proven to be a valuable attack dog for Trump, and considering the former president’s persuasion for ideological extremists, it’s not unimaginable that she might snatch the running mate position.

Kristi Noem

Kristi Noem is the Governor of South Dakota and has been an active politician for over 15 years now. During her Governor campaign, Noem was endorsed by Trump and has been a fervent supporter ever since. Moreover, she has also spent a lot of time trying to delegitimise Trump’s legal woes:

Plus, I think it’s fair to say that Noem might be the only candidate actually campaigning for the VP position. During a rally that the politician had thrown in Trump’s honour, she was asked by a reporter whether or not she would consider the Trump VP slot. Almost immediately, Noem smiled and replied, “I think anybody in this country, if they were offered it, needs to consider it.”

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