While former President Donald Trump has yet to declare a 2024 presidential bid, the speculation on his running mate remains hot and candidates are lining up at Mar-a-Lago “begging” for consideration.
“They’re all begging me,” Trump reportedly boasted to an anonymous adviser, Politico reported. “They all come here.”
Some potential vice presidential candidates include former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Sens. Tim Scott, R-S.C., Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, former acting Director of National Intelligence Ric Grenell, and former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows.
Scott and Pompeo recently interacted with Trump at Mar-a-Lago, sources told Politico.
“It was a really warm interaction,” a Republican observer told Politico of Scott’s visit. “Scott was appropriately deferential without being gross, like some people are. What he said was thoughtful, and it was appreciated by the president. There was definitely chemistry there.”
Former VP Mike Pence was chosen in 2016 as a Rust Belt governor who could impact the evangelical conservative, but he and Trump had a falling out over allegations of election fraud and certification of the Electoral College vote amid contested results in key battleground states Arizona, Pennsylvania, George, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Nevada.
“A lot of times, a presidential candidate will pick a running mate to balance out wings of the party, but with Trump, that’s not the issue,” pollster John McLaughlin told Politico. “He is the party, basically. It’s so united behind him. So his choice, if he runs, will come down to what he wants. It would be a much more personal decision this time.”
Trump had maintained supporters “will be very happy” with his 2024 decision, which is not expected until after the 2022 midterm elections next November. Trump has hailed himself as a political outsider, which he can no longer be considered, but he still is not beholden to traditional politics.
“Once you get past those two issues — loyalty and Trump going more with his gut — Trump has a lot of leeway in who he would pick,” pollster Tony Fabrizio told Politico. “He’s not necessarily looking to balance the ticket geographically, but what he can do is pick to balance gender, race, ethnicity — a lot of different lanes there.
“It could be everything from a Tim Scott in South Carolina to an Asian American in California, somebody Hispanic in Texas. There are so many choices and paths. And there’s lots of time to go.”
Scott, who is running for Senate reelection in 2022, is already a well-developed fundraiser on his own, raising $8.4 million in the last quarter and having already visited the first presidential primary states Iowa and New Hampshire, according to the report.
“This is an audition, and Trump is paying attention,” Roger Stone told Politico. “There’s no question that people running for president are really running for vice president all the time. The key is to make it look like you’re not running for vice president.”
Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis was raised by Trump as a potential running mate in the past, too, along with Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez.
“Trump feels he made DeSantis,” a Trump adviser told Politico. “Trump sees him as a competitor, and he’s not going to have someone with better numbers.”
“Reynolds and Blackburn are definitely in the hunt,” a source added, noting they are both “tough as nails and conservative as hell.”
Jan. 6 remains a sore spot in Washington, D.C., so those that feed the Democrats’ narrative on that like former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley have to be viewed as longshots, if not written off completely.
“Don’t rule out a consigliere lane for vice president, a Meadows-type,” the source told Politico. “There were times when Pence occupied that role. No one wants to admit it now, but I observed it. But obviously Jan. 6 changed everything in that relationship.”
Grenell was a leader in the Trump campaign’s exposing of election irregularities in Nevada.
“Don’t sleep on Ric,” another adviser told Politico. “Trump loves him, and unlike Pompeo or anyone else, he has no interest in running for president. That’s a big issue for Trump.”
The eventual pick “will have to be loyal, and they’ll have to denounce what happened in 2020,” according to former Trump administration staffer Michael Caputo to Politico.
“If they don’t, they’re disqualified,” he added.