June 13, 2024 2:02 pm

Who will Donald Trump pick as his vice-president?

Donald Trump is within striking distance of winning the Republican presidential nomination and the competition to join his ticket has been heating up.

Allies and even some former rivals of the ex-president have pledged their loyalty and rallied his supporters on the campaign trail, with some openly auditioning for the role.

Mr Trump, for his part, has teased crowds with a range of options, but recently told Fox News there was “no rush” on his selection. “It won’t have any impact at all,” he said.

As Mr Trump marches to the nomination, here’s a look at the Republicans rumoured to be on the shortlist to be his running mate:

Representative Elise Stefanik

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) (L) joins Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump during a campaign rally at the Grappone Convention Center on January 19, 2024 in Concord, New Hampshire.IMAGE SOURCE,GETTY IMAGES

Near the top of the pack of hopefuls is New York Representative Elise Stefanik.

Once a moderate, Trump-hesitant Republican, Ms Stefanik, 39, has drifted closer to the right wing of her party in recent years, growing into one of Mr Trump’s most loyal defenders.

Now the highest-ranking woman among House Republicans, Ms Stefanik has also risen to modest conservative fame – first for her work on Mr Trump’s first impeachment defence team in 2020 and, more recently, for her viral take-down of two Ivy League college presidents.

“Elise became very famous,” Mr Trump told supporters last week of her contentious questioning of the college leaders. “Wasn’t it beautiful?”

Ms Stefanik certainly seems open to it, telling reporters last weekend she would be “honoured” to serve in the Trump administration “in any capacity”.

Senator Tim Scott

Senator Tim Scott, a Republican from South Carolina, right, speaks as he stands next to former US President Donald Trump during a campaign event in Concord, New Hampshire, US, on Friday, Jan. 19, 2024.IMAGE SOURCE,GETTY IMAGES
Image caption,

Once a rival of Donald Trump, senator Tim Scott has since thrown his support behind the former president

Tim Scott, an erstwhile competitor for the Republican nomination, is a senator and one of the most prominent black Republicans in the US.

He pitched himself as an optimistic conservative but his campaign failed to gain traction with voters. In November, after three lacklustre debate performances, he exited the race.

Mr Scott, 58, seemed to throw his hat into the vice-presidential ring in January with his endorsement of Mr Trump – giving the cold shoulder to his fellow South Carolinian Nikki Haley, the woman who appointed him to the Senate in the first place.

But it was Mr Scott’s rousing remarks at a Trump campaign rally ahead of the New Hampshire primary that pushed his name firmly into the VP conversation. “We need Donald Trump,” Mr Scott told voters.

He then appeared on stage with Mr Trump during his victory speech, standing directly behind him in the television shot. At one point, he said to Mr Trump: “I just love you.” The former president responded: “That’s why you’re a great politician.”

In more recent appearances together, Mr Trump has lauded the South Carolina lawmaker as “much better [at advocating] for me than he was for himself”.

Senator JD Vance

Donald Trump and JD Vance greet supporters at a rally in Ohio in November 2022IMAGE SOURCE,GETTY IMAGES

JD Vance, 39, the junior senator from Ohio, was also in New Hampshire rallying support on behalf of Mr Trump.

The Yale-educated ex-venture capitalist first made headlines for his best-selling book Hillbilly Elegy, a memoir that followed his working class upbringing in the rust-belt Midwest.

Mr Vance, once a self-identified “never-Trumper”, refashioned himself as a loyal disciple of Mr Trump when he launched his 2022 Senate bid. It paid off: Mr Trump’s endorsement of Mr Vance gave his campaign a critical boost in both the crowded Republican primary and the general election.

Now in office, he has championed the hard-right issues that animate Mr Trump’s base.

Mr Vance has said that he would be of better use to Mr Trump in the Senate, but he doesn’t seem to have ruled out being vice-president. “I want to help him however I can,” he said.

Governor Kristi Noem

Kristi Noem speaks as Donald Trump listens during a meeting in the White House in December 2019IMAGE SOURCE,GETTY IMAGES

A South Dakotan who dropped out of college to run the family farm, Kristi Noem served as her state’s lone member in the House of Representatives for eight years and was elected its first female governor in 2018.

The position has helped Ms Noem elevate her national profile in conservative circles, especially when she flouted mask mandates and other restrictions during the pandemic era.

Salacious reports of a long-time extramarital affair with former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski have threatened to derail the 52-year-old’s ambitions.

But Ms Noem has held a cosy relationship with Mr Trump – who she says is “confident in who he is” – and he confirmed to Fox News that her name is on his shortlist.

Vivek Ramaswamy

Donald Trump greets Vivek Ramaswamy at a campaign rally in New Hampshire in JanuaryIMAGE SOURCE,GETTY IMAGES

A biotech entrepreneur with no previous political experience, Vivek Ramaswamy impressed Trump fans during his 2024 presidential bid with his sure-footed rhetoric, bold policy agenda and youth.

He also emerged as his rival’s prime defender in the Republican field, calling him “the best president of the 21st century” and promising to pardon him if he is convicted in any of his upcoming criminal trials.

The 38-year-old Indian American attracted attention and controversy on the campaign trail but, after outlasting more established politicians, he came in fourth in the first Republican primary contest in Iowa.

Dropping out immediately after that result, Mr Ramaswamy gave his full backing to Mr Trump, telling his supporters there “has to be an ‘America First’ candidate in the White House”.

Representative Byron Donalds

Byron Donalds speaks with Donald Trump at the Iowa State Fair in August 2023IMAGE SOURCE,GETTY IMAGES

Byron Donalds, 45, is another fresh face on the national scene – and one who has helped raise the profile of black conservatism.

Born in New York to a single mother, Mr Donalds worked in banking, insurance and finance before entering local politics in Florida in 2012.

After four years in the Florida House of Representatives, he has served since 2020 in the US House, representing the hard-right flank of his party in Washington.

Asked in November if he would accept the role of vice-president in a second Trump term, the congressman said: “I mean, who wouldn’t?”

Tulsi Gabbard

Tulsi Gabbard speaks at the US Capitol in January 2020IMAGE SOURCE,GETTY IMAGES

The first ever Hindu member of the US Congress, former Hawaii congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard may be the biggest dark horse on Mr Trump’s shortlist.

A decade ago, the Iraq War veteran and US Army reservist served as vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee – before resigning to endorse Bernie Sanders’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Her time in Congress, from 2013 to 2021, was marked by frequent criticisms of the Obama administration and US military interventionism, including a controversial decision to meet with Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.

She ran in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, with her most notable moment being a fierce critique of Kamala Harris – now the vice-president – over her past as a prosecutor in California.

Ms Gabbard, 42, was the last to drop out of that race, endorsing Joe Biden. But she has since taken on several conservative positions, beefed up her contributions to Fox News and announced in 2022 that she was leaving the Democratic Party.

The Washington Post reported earlier this month that Mr Trump has spoken with Ms Gabbard – an outspoken critic of Ukraine aid – about foreign policy and managing the Pentagon.

Other names in the mix

  • Ron DeSantis: After romping to re-election as Florida governor in the 2022 midterm elections, Mr DeSantis was pegged as the conservative leader who could carry Mr Trump’s movement forward. But his lacklustre presidential campaign crashed and burned in January, though a cheerless endorsement of his chief rival opened the door for the two to mend fences again.
  • Nikki Haley: Several of Mr Trump’s allies have suggested that a presidential ticket that includes his former UN ambassador could help him win over the suburban female voters uncomfortable with voting for him. But Ms Haley’s decision to remain in the primary despite losing every contest has visibly irked Mr Trump in recent weeks.
  • Kari Lake: The former TV anchor tethered herself to Mr Trump’s unfounded claims of 2020 election fraud and ran unsuccessfully for Arizona governor in 2022, a defeat she still does not acknowledge. Ms Lake’s charisma has won her many admirers in the Trump camp but she is currently favoured to win the Republican nomination in this year’s US Senate race in Arizona.
  • Sarah Huckabee Sanders: Serving as Mr Trump’s White House press secretary for two years boosted this second-generation politician to the governorship of Arkansas. Ms Sanders endorsed Mr Trump’s re-election somewhat belatedly, but has said being governor is is “one of the best jobs I could ever ask for… and I hope I get to do it for the next seven years”.

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