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Runners at the Ready – Trump VP Horse Race Is On

A prize worth winning.

In the aftermath of the 2020 election and the unceremonious demise of former VP Mike Pence’s political capital, it would have been a brave contender who hoped to become Donald Trump’s future running mate. But with the polls currently favoring the 45th president to become the 47th, a slot on that ticket just became the hottest commodity in town. The list of potentials is as electric as it is fascinating.

Like any good showman, Trump will keep the big reveal until the most politically opportune moment – after all, he did not announce Pence until July 2016. Importantly, the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee will commence on July 15 this year, and it may serve Trump well to hold off announcing until he officially has the nomination. Another benefit of keeping his political powder dry until late in the game is that if his polling suffers with a particular demographic or region, he can always bolster it with a “complementary” candidate.

But who is on the shortlist, and what will be the key factors Trump looks for in his 2024 running mate?

VP DeSantis?

After a contentious primary in which Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was on the receiving end of Trump’s proprietary brand of mockery, the idea that the Sunshine State top dog is ready to become bosom buddies with The Donald is, on first blush, a tough sell. However, recent overtures hint at a tentative détente.

GettyImages-1936453613 Ron DeSantis

Ron DeSantis (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

As reported by Politico, the two heavyweights met on Sunday, April 28, to discuss how they could best work together during the 2024 election. Sources speaking to the outlet said it was a “good meeting set at the request of Gov. DeSantis.” A number of conservative voters – especially those who may view a Trump return with some trepidation – would be buoyed by DeSantis getting the VP slot; after all, it would set him up well for a run at the Oval Office in 2028. And yet his similarities to the former president (Trumpism without the Trump) may be a hindrance to his chances.

For all his benefits to the campaign, there are some drawbacks. Most notably, Florida is already a firmly red state; having DeSantis on the ticket doesn’t shore up a swing state. Also, in terms of demographics, he does not bring anything new to the ticket table.

Noem and the Dog Lover Issue

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has been high on the list of possible contenders. She is smart, savvy, a Trump loyalist from the beginning. Speaking to The Dakota Scout in February, she said of a recent meeting with the former president:

“I’m not going to share private conversations that I had with the president … We did have a good meeting … I’ve known Trump for years, we worked together when I was in Congress, he’s come to South Dakota, so it was good to visit with him and talk a little bit about 2024.”

Such tight-lipped sharing was sure to fire up speculation. However, it seems that the Fourth Estate is pre-emptively trying to bring out the dirt. Writing in her soon-to-released memoir, “No Going Back: The Truth on What’s Wrong With Politics and How We Move America Forward,” Noem references an occasion when she herself put down a dog. And the outrage began.

GettyImages - 1467079263 Kristi Noem

Kristi Noem (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

All of a sudden, the media was filled with stories about her callous behavior and questioning why she would commit such a story to paper. She responded on X to the plethora of stories: “South Dakota law states that dogs who attack and kill livestock can be put down. Given that Cricket had shown aggressive behavior toward people by biting them, I decided what I did.”

The connection between Noem’s story and that of President Biden’s dog biting numerous people at the White House is a tough optic to shake. The Fourth Estate’s initial frenzy may ultimately end up helping rather than hurting her, presenting her as someone who appears responsible and unwilling to shirk tough decisions.

Scott in the Political Antarctic?

By pulling out of the Republican primary race early, Sen. Tim Scott (SC) earned the goodwill of Trump supporters and Trump himself. As the only black person in the GOP Senate caucus, he has outsized name recognition and can appeal to a demographic that appears to be disillusioned with the Biden presidency. But where has he been since?

While the senator’s X account has been active of late, the man himself has been keeping a suspiciously low profile. This could be to keep him untarnished prior to a VP announcement, or it could be because he has not found himself engaged in anything newsworthy.

Burgum Who?

A flurry of media attention has recently been paid to North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum. Having also made a play for the GOP nomination, he acquitted himself well on the debate stage but perhaps left viewers wondering: Doug who?

“He’s one of the best governors in our country,” Trump said of Burgum prior to the Republican primary debates. “And I hope that I’m going to be able to call on him to be a piece of the administration, a very important piece of the administration.” By all accounts, he has been a successful governor with plenty of political wins, but what can he offer in terms of boosting Trump’s electoral chances?

Trump won North Dakota by more than 30% in both 2016 and 2020; this is safe ground for him. Burgum is one of the richest politicians in the country, with an estimated fortune of more than a billion dollars; two rich white men on the ticket does not seem likely to encourage turnout from more diverse segments of society. And yet, in terms of his effectiveness as a political operator, he certainly has some chops.

Showmanship First

Trump has long been a showman. From his successful television career and into the White House, he knows how to tease an audience to build excitement. There is little chance that he will announce his eventual pick before the Milwaukee convention, but that doesn’t mean he won’t create as much speculation as possible in the meantime.

One thing, however, is certain. Whoever gets the final nod could well become the driving force in the Republican Party after November’s election, and that is a prize that no aspiring politician is willing to forgo.

Read More From Mark Angelides

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