U.S Election

Who will be Trump’s VP? A shortlist

Author: Editors Desk, David Smith in Washington Source: The Guardian
April 21, 2024 at 10:22
Illustration: Guardian Design
Illustration: Guardian Design

Explainer

Donald Trump has secured the necessary delegates to win the Republican presidential nomination for a third consecutive election. That result was never in much doubt, but the contest to be Trump’s running mate is harder to predict. Once again, the Republican primaries demonstrated his strength among white men in rural areas, leading to speculation that he will choose a woman or person of colour to broaden his appeal in November.

Here are some factors to consider and a look at the likely contenders.

Why does Trump need a new running mate?

Former vice-president Mike Pence was a useful ally during the 2016 and 2020 campaigns, a Christian conservative who shored up support among Republicans suspicious of the thrice-married reality TV star. But Pence’s refusal to comply with his boss’s demand to overturn the 2020 election led to a falling out and made Pence a perceived traitor and target of the January 6 insurrectionists. After a failed bid for president in 2024, Pence recently said in an interview that he will not be endorsing Trump.

What is Trump looking for in a 2024 VP?

He may decide he needs a female running mate to make himself less toxic to suburban women, especially with abortion rights looming large as an election issue. But history suggests that he will have three priorities: a person who displays loyalty; a person who looks like they are from “central casting”; a person who knows their place and will not outshine him on the campaign trail.

Will Trump’s VP pick matter in the 2024 election?

Probably not a lot. There is little evidence that a woman on the ticket draws more female voters or that a running mate’s home state will necessarily back them. Dan Pfeiffer, a White House communications director under President Barack Obama, told the New York Times: “The vice-presidential pick is something that generates a massive amount of press coverage but has the most minimal of impacts on the election.”

But perhaps a bad pick can do damage: Republican nominee John McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin in 2008 probably didn’t help. This year, however, Joe Biden and Donald Trump are, again, the two oldest candidates in history, giving new meaning to their VP picks being only “a heartbeat away from the presidency”.

How many VPs have gone on to become president?

Fifteen. Eight of these succeeded to the office on the death of a president, including Lyndon Johnson, who was sworn in onboard Air Force One after the assassination of John F Kennedy. Gerald Ford was the only unelected vice-president and president following the resignations of Spiro Agnew and Richard Nixon. Biden served as vice-president under Barack Obama, who was succeeded by Trump, who was then defeated by Biden for the presidency.

What to know about the Republicans on Trump’s vice-president shortlist

 


greg abbott
Photograph: Elías Valverde II/AP

Greg Abbott

Age: 66

Occupation: Governor of Texas

The Texas politician is a Trump loyalist and hardliner on border security who has fought a series of legal battles with the Biden White House. Trump saidhe “would very much consider Abbott” for vice-president during a joint Fox News interview in February. Abbott, who uses a wheelchair, said he was “committed to governing Texas” and to his own re-election campaign.


tucker carlson
 Photograph: Elías Valverde II/AP

Tucker Carlson

Age: 54

Occupation: Conservative political commentator and writer

The former Fox News host is a strong ideological match. Like Trump, he relishes offending liberals, praising autocrats such as Vladimir Putin of Russia and Viktor Orbán of Hungary (he conducted fawning interviews with both) and pushing the far-right great replacement” theory that western elites are importing immigrant voters to supplant white people. Although Carlson once wrote of Trump in a text message, “I hate him passionately”, more recently he has praised him as “sensible and wise”.

 

 

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