Journeys to Mar-a-Lago. Glowing speeches. Entrance-row seats at main occasions.
The primary Republican presidential primaries are practically a yr away and the candidate subject remains to be unsettled. However already, a shadow contest of one other type is underway with a number of Republicans overtly jockeying to place themselves as potential operating mates to Donald Trump, the early front-runner for the nomination.
“A lot of people are right now auditioning,” Trump boasted to supporters in Florida final month.
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The mere point out of a operating mate this early within the course of is a departure from the normal timeline of presidential primaries, the place candidates usually spend the opening months of a marketing campaign introducing themselves to voters and sharing their visions for the nation.
However as a former president, Trump wants no introduction and is raring to challenge an air of inevitability round his marketing campaign, notably as consideration builds round Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who’s extensively seen as his hardest potential GOP rival.
Trump marketing campaign officers insist that the vice presidential search shouldn’t be one thing they’ve been actively discussing.
“We appreciate all support for President Trump, but the clear focus is on making sure that he wins the Republican nomination and is well-positioned to win the general election in 2024,” mentioned Jason Miller, a longtime Trump adviser.
That, nevertheless, hasn’t stopped some main candidates from taking full benefit of alternatives to be in shut proximity to Trump, at his membership and at occasions. The dynamic was on full show earlier this month on the 2023 Conservative Political Motion Convention, the place a trio of ladies who’ve been talked about as potential contenders sat within the viewers to cheer Trump’s headline speech.
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They have been Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Elise Stefanik of New York and Kari Lake, the information anchor-turned-failed-Arizona gubernatorial candidate who ended her remarks at a keynote occasion dinner by kissing a portrait of Trump that was positioned on stage.
Whereas Trump, in line with individuals who have spoken to him, is in no rush to decide and understands that he has to let the nomination course of play out, he has nonetheless talked via choices since nicely earlier than he formally introduced his candidacy final fall. In these conversations, he has indicated his curiosity in deciding on a lady this time round.
However allies say Trump is trying, initially, for somebody who will probably be unabashedly loyal after feeling burned by former Vice President Mike Pence for refusing to overturn the outcomes of the 2020 election.
In 2016, operating as a star businessman with no expertise in politics, Trump selected an individual who was, in some ways, his whole reverse, choosing the Indiana governor and former congressman who may bolster his standing with conservatives and the spiritual proper.
Trump, this time, is on the lookout for somebody extra like himself, mentioned Michael Caputo, a longtime pal and adviser who believes Stefanik could be Trump’s most suitable option.
“I think the president learned a lot from his experience with Pence,” he mentioned. “I think this time Trump’s going to be looking for someone cut from the same cloth he is, not from a different, complementary cloth.”
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Whereas Trump is on the lookout for somebody with star energy, he has additionally signaled that he’s reluctant to decide on somebody who may overshadow him within the race.
Amongst those that are seen as most longing for the job is Lake, who’s fashionable with Trump’s MAGA base and gained — after which promoted — a CPAC straw ballot that requested viewers members whom they wish to see because the Republican vice presidential nominee. She is seen as unequivocally loyal to the previous president, however detractors be aware she misplaced her solely race and continues to dispute the outcomes, which might draw consideration to Trump’s personal election failures and intensify criticism that he’s too targeted on the previous.
She mentioned in an announcement that she is “100% dedicated to serving as Arizona Governor” — though Democrat Katie Hobbs, who defeated Lake, now holds the job — and “will also work to make sure President Trump gets back in the White House ASAP. Anything outside of those two goals is nothing but a distraction.”
An individual near Lake mentioned that she has had no formal discussions in regards to the position is presently gearing up for a possible run for the Senate.
However the particular person, who, like others, insisted on anonymity to debate non-public conversations, additionally mentioned Lake is unapologetically pro-Trump and would seemingly do something he requested.
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Greene, the flame-throwing American First congresswoman who not too long ago proposed a “national divorce” between purple and blue states, can also be seen as longing for the position. She was a relentless presence at Trump’s midterm rallies, typically talking in the course of the pre-show program, and has been a frequent customer to Florida, together with sharing dinner with Lake at an area restaurant, Rocco’s Tacos, on Valentine’s Day.
“She sees herself on the short list for Trump’s VP. Paraphrasing Cokie Roberts, when MTG looks in the mirror she sees a potential president smiling back,” Steve Bannon, Trump’s former chief strategist who continuously hosts Greene on his podcast, advised NBC, referring to the late political reporter.
When requested about her vice presidential ambitions not too long ago, Greene advised reporters, “That’s up to President Trump who he chooses.”
Stefanik can also be continuously talked about as a possible contender, however has taken what allies describe as a extra delicate strategy. She endorsed Trump earlier than he even introduced he was operating, and has turn into one among his chief defenders on the Hill.
Throughout CPAC, Stefanik used her speech to name for Trump’s reelection and launched him at a non-public occasion organized by his tremendous PAC. Trump, in flip, praised her as a “rocket ship.”
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Individuals near Stefanik say that, as a substitute of overtly angling for the place, she is targeted on doing her job as GOP convention chair and a member of the Home Intelligence Committee, believing that if she does it nicely, good issues will comply with. However she nonetheless has the help of a number of Trump allies, who see her as disciplined and fewer dangerous than different potential choices, and likewise level to her report for profitable swing, suburban districts.
Stefanik, in an interview, mentioned she had not mentioned the place with Trump, although she has beforehand mentioned she could be honored to serve in his administration.
“We have a lot of work to do over the next two years and I am gonna work no matter what to make sure that we have a Republican president, House and Senate in 2024,” she mentioned. “So that’s what I focused on, and it’s a big job.”
Trump has additionally mentioned different potential operating mates, together with his former ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, who has launched her personal presidential bid. South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, who could be the primary Black man on a Republican presidential ticket, is seen as one other potential possibility.
Allies say each are severe about operating for president in their very own proper, not in hopes of angling to function vp or in one other Cupboard put up, although many imagine Haley, particularly, could be open to a proposal.
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Additionally talked about as potential contenders: South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, who’s contemplating her personal presidential run; Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn, a supporter of the previous president in 2016 and 2020; and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, who appeared alongside the previous president as he visited the state Monday.
“We’re going to have a lot of great choices for vice president. We’re gonna pick a great one,” Trump mentioned throughout his swing via Iowa.
The Related Press contributed to this text
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