As former President Donald Trump’s polling lead over his Republican rivals has come to look insurmountable, more than 40 names have bubbled up in speculation about his pick for vice president in the 2024 election.

“People are talking about Trump VP picks because they recognize the primary is over and has been for quite some time,” Jason Meister, a New York-based adviser to the former president, told The Epoch Times. “Trump is polling stronger than he did in 2016 and 2020. He’s surging with blacks, independents, and younger Americans.”

Nearly 63 percent of would-be voters say they favor President Trump as the GOP presidential nominee, according to the latest RealClearPolitics polling average.
That compares with about 11 percent support each for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor who served as President Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations.

President Trump’s dominance in the polls has persisted in spite of—or, some say, because of—the “lawfare” being waged against him. The former president faces 91 criminal charges that threaten his freedom, civil cases aimed at his financial empire, and state-level efforts to boot him from 2024 ballots.

Arguably, these precarious circumstances make it even more important to wisely choose a running mate, since a vice president must be prepared to step in if the president cannot, for some reason, fulfill his duties.

Even if the vice president doesn’t assume the role of president, the position often serves as a steppingstone to the presidency.

Among the past 10 presidents, four previously served as vice president, including the incumbent, Democrat President Joe Biden.

Shopping for the ideal vice president requires consideration of many variables. That person should possess political clout and experience and must embrace the presidential candidate’s proposed policies. He or she also should be capable of drawing more supporters into the fold.

In that vein, an ethnic minority or a female might make an advantageous vice president choice for President Trump, because such a person might bolster his support among those factions of voters.

Many of his supporters bristle at the notion of a “check-the-boxes” choice. But savvy presidential candidates always seek to “balance” the ticket and “fill in gaps” of their base, analysts say. Factors such as home state, ideology, and personal characteristics come into play.

Above all, President Trump has said he has one paramount requirement: his confidence that the person will do a good job.

Whomever he chooses, a good vice president cannot be overly charismatic and upstage the top of the ticket. This chosen leader also must be capable of being subordinate to the president.

On top of all that, the running mate’s personality must mesh well with the presidential candidate.

Opinions All Over the Board

When choosing a running mate, an overarching principle should be “first, do no harm,” according to Aubrey Jewett, a political science professor at the University of Central Florida. He said it’s “the political equivalent of the Hippocratic oath that doctors take,” and it simply means that a vice presidential candidate cannot be a person who might “drag the ticket down.”

The choice of a running mate seems to have little effect on whether a candidate becomes the presidential nominee or wins the presidency, Mr. Jewett said.

Still, many voters do pay at least some attention to the second name on the ticket. And, to some degree, they do judge presidential candidates by the company they keep. Voters see the vice presidential selection as “a sign of the presidential candidate’s judgment,” he said.

These are among the reasons people start buzzing about who might make a good running mate fairly early in an election cycle.

Speculation about President Trump’s possible running mate began more than two years ago—almost three years in advance of the Republican National Convention, where delegates will choose their nominee for the November ballot.

Customarily, presidential candidates announce their choice of a running mate a few days before the convention’s start; the GOP convention is set for July 15–18 in Milwaukee.

Although President Trump and his team have said they aren’t ready to talk about potential running mates, voters wonder who will make the cut—and some have begun voicing opinions about who they prefer.

On Dec. 13, 2023, Newsweek magazine reported that Mr. DeSantis prevailed as the No. 1 vice president choice among 1,500 voters surveyed, drawing 25 percent support from people who said they would vote for President Trump.
But a few days after that poll’s release, Mr. DeSantis ranked toward the bottom of a different survey at Turning Point Action’s “AmericaFest 2023” in Arizona. Among the 1,113 attendees who responded to the questions, 81 percent said they were Republican; more than half were over age 50, and one-fifth of them were under age 30.

When asked whom they favored as a running mate for President Trump, 35 percent named former Fox News personality Tucker Carlson. Only 6 percent named Mr. DeSantis.

Ohio businessman Vivek Ramaswamy was the sole would-be vice president who finished in the top three slots in both of those polls. He drew 16 percent support in the Newsweek survey and 26 percent in the AmericaFest poll.

Although Ms. Haley’s 19 percent share ranked her second in the Newsweek survey, she was decidedly unpopular with the AmericaFest crowd. The audience booed and jeered when her name was mentioned onstage; the poll showed that only 2 percent wanted her as President Trump’s running mate.

Mr. DeSantis, Mr. Ramaswamy, and Ms. Haley have all publicly stated they have no desire to be second-in-command. So have a number of other people whose names have been mentioned.

And, at a Michigan speech in September 2023, President Trump said he saw little running mate potential among the dozen or so candidates who were then vying for the Republican presidential nomination.

Still, people who said they were uninterested in an offer might change their minds. So could President Trump.

The Epoch Times has compiled a list of potential Trump running mates based on political betting odds, surveys, political scientists’ opinions, online chatter, and interviews with insiders.

The list includes many of the most-talked-about possibilities—plus a few more obscure picks that just might appeal to President Trump. After all, his eventual 2016 running mate, former Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, was an unexpected choice.

Possible Picks

US Sen. Tim Scott

For several reasons, the South Carolina lawmaker could bolster President Trump’s candidacy more than many of the other names that have been proposed in recent months.

Mr. Scott is passionate about sharing his religious faith, endearing him to evangelical Christians—an important voting bloc that also found President Trump’s former vice president, Mr. Pence, appealing.

Because he is the only black Republican senator in Congress, Mr. Scott also might help draw more black voters, a group that has traditionally voted Democrat but has recently been shifting more toward President Trump and other Republicans.

Although Mr. Scott often delivers powerful speeches, they’re tempered by a Southern-gentlemanlike, more genteel demeanor, Mr. Bullock said, which would provide a counterbalance to the brash native New York style of President Trump.

Mr. Scott, 58, comes across as “younger and more vigorous” than President Trump, Mr. Bullock said.

While campaigning for the presidency earlier this year, Mr. Scott largely avoided attacking President Trump. And the former president, known for aiming barbs at his opponents, had instead praised Mr. Scott.

Both men used the phrase “good guy” to describe each other in July 2023 amid persistent rumors about the Trump ticket.

Mr. Scott bowed out of the race in November 2023. One political insider told The Epoch Times that he had direct knowledge that Mr. Scott expressed gratitude to President Trump for a running mate offer but felt he had to turn it down.

The Epoch Times attempted to reach Mr. Scott for comment in late December, but his staff said he was unavailable during the Christmas-New Year’s holiday break.

Mr. Scott wasn’t listed as a vice presidential candidate in the Newsweek poll, and he drew less than 1 percent support from the AmericaFest crowd.

Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley

Ms. Haley’s former gubernatorial and foreign policy experience, along with her status as a female and the daughter of immigrants from India, make her a logical pick—at least on paper. Both Mr. Jewett and Charles Bullock III, a political science professor at the University of Georgia, concur on those points.

But in reality, President Trump risks turning off many supporters if he dares to choose her.

Recently, media outlets began running a flurry of articles themed “Trump is secretly considering Haley as VP.” The reception from Trumpworld has been frosty.

On Dec. 23, 2023, as such stories were circulating, Trump ally Roger Stone posted on Truth Social: “Fact: The United States has never had a VP nicknamed ‘Birdbrain’–and never will,” referring to a nickname that President Trump bestowed upon Ms. Haley.

Mr. Meister said: “I can’t predict who Trump will ultimately choose as his running mate, but I can tell you who it can’t be. It can’t be Haley.”

He and others see Ms. Haley as a “neoconservative,“ or a ”neoliberal” who is too closely tied to the entrenched political establishment that President Trump has said he wants to dismantle. Several say they flat-out distrust her.
The former president’s son Donald Trump Jr. emphatically opposes her.
But Lara Trump, the wife of President Trump’s other adult son, Eric Trump, refused to rule out Ms. Haley.

Still, many of President Trump’s supporters dislike Ms. Haley so much that they swear they’ll vote against any ticket that includes the name “Haley.”

During a Dec. 27, 2023, interview with journalist John Solomon, President Trump disputed reports that he was considering Ms. Haley for a running mate. He said he wasn’t considering anyone for the job because he is focused on winning the upcoming caucuses, which begin on Jan. 15 in Iowa.

However, the former president did concede that he and Ms. Haley have gotten along well, even though he considers her “somewhat disloyal” for breaking her promise not to run against him. “But that’s a politician,” he said.

President Trump “doesn’t seem to have the same sort of animosity against her” as he does against Mr. DeSantis, Mr. Jewett said.

Mr. Bullock noted that Ms. Haley, 51, would provide a more youthful contrast to President Trump, who is 77, and his presumed Democrat opponent, 81-year-old President Biden.

Other points in Ms. Haley’s favor: She hasn’t attacked President Trump as strongly as some of her fellow Republican challengers. And she has publicly stated, more than once, that she would pardon President Trump if she becomes president and he is convicted of a criminal charge.

However, she has recently intensified her criticisms of President Trump, saying he shouldn’t be president because chaos follows him.

Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy

By starting his candidacy at age 37, the millionaire millennial became the youngest Republican to ever seek the Oval Office.
Although he lacks experience, the Harvard and Yale graduate brings energy, intelligence, and courage to the table.

At the first GOP presidential debate on Aug. 23, 2023, in Milwaukee, Mr. Ramaswamy demonstrated that he’s willing to be bold.

Without hesitation, he raised his hand to indicate that he would support President Trump if he were to be criminally convicted yet became the Republican nominee. The other GOP candidates onstage followed Mr. Ramaswamy’s lead, one by one, some rather sheepishly.

Mr. Ramaswamy has denounced the weaponization of the justice system against President Trump. He also has decried numerous states’ attempts to ban President Trump from the ballot based on claims that he incited an “insurrection” during the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol breach. Mr. Ramaswamy vowed to withdraw his own name from any ballot that excludes President Trump; he has challenged his fellow candidates to do the same.

In addition, Mr. Ramaswamy publicly criticized Republican National Committee (RNC) chairwoman Ronna McDaniel as an ineffective leader and called for her resignation.

Mr. Ramaswamy recently completed his second round of “The Full Grassley,” making stops in all 99 of Iowa’s counties, a maneuver that Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) pioneered. Still, he has been lagging in Iowa polls.

Among the second-tier GOP presidential hopefuls, Mr. Ramaswamy has run “the most interesting and original campaign,” in the opinion of Roger Simon, a columnist for The Epoch Times.

Many people, including Mr. Simon, have said that Mr. Ramaswamy has a bright future in politics, possibly as a member of a Trump administration—even if not as vice president.

Besides being a fan favorite in two polls about potential Trump running mates, Mr. Ramaswamy ranks highly among some political betting sites, such as OddsChecker.com.

And, he, like Ms. Haley, was born to parents who emigrated from India, a background that could appeal to ethnic minorities if President Trump were to choose him as a running mate.

Still, Mr. Ramaswamy has no prior political or governmental experience. But neither did President Trump before his presidency.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem

Ms. Noem, 52, has risen in prominence during the past several years even though her state has next-to-zero gravitational pull in U.S. politics.

One reason she gained attention: She refused to impose lockdowns during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, saying she trusted citizens to make wise choices for themselves.

Ms. Noem served in Congress for six years and understands the D.C. Beltway. She also served on the Armed Services Committee and, in that role, observed President Trump’s leadership first hand.

That’s one reason she cited when she endorsed him in September 2023 at a rally in Rapid City, South Dakota. She also pledged to do everything in her power to help President Trump win back the White House.

Talk about her as a possible running mate choice accelerated after the words “Trump Noem 2024” flashed briefly on a video screen at the rally. And now, such speculation is renewed because Ms. Noem is set to campaign for the former president in Iowa during his pre-caucus blitz.

She was elected in 2018 as South Dakota’s first female governor. Last year, she won reelection with “the largest vote total in the history of South Dakota,” her online biography says.

Mr. Jewett put her in the category of “politicians and sort of traditional candidates” but noted, “She’d bring that diversity to the ticket by virtue of being a woman.”

At one point in late December 2023, Ms. Noem, Mr. Ramaswamy, and Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) were in a three-way tie as betting favorites to gain the running mate spot. But in the Newsweek poll, Ms. Noem drew only 3 percent support; she registered less than 1 percent in the AmericaFest survey.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum

“Doug who?” was the question many people asked after Mr. Burgum declared his presidential candidacy in June 2023. He also hails from a low-profile Great Plains state and struggled to gain attention during his campaign, which he ended in early December.

But during that six-month span, Mr. Burgum found a creative way to qualify for two GOP presidential debates—and made a positive impression onstage, drawing glowing remarks from President Trump, who has skipped all of the RNC-sponsored debates.

After the first debate in August 2023, President Trump, commenting on potential running mate picks, told Newsmax that Mr. Burgum is “great” and said, “I respect him a lot.”

“I think he’s got something very good about him. He’s a high-quality person, he’s considered a very high-quality man,” President Trump said.

The 67-year-old, two-term governor generated a fair amount of buzz during the September 2023 GOP presidential debate in California, as he spoke about how he used principles from the business world to benefit North Dakotans.
“I know I’ve created more jobs than everybody else on this stage, thousands of high-paying jobs that have real meaning,” the software entrepreneur said.

Afterward, news reporters scrambled to interview him in the “spin room.” But his campaign never gained much momentum beyond that.

Many people doubt that President Trump would gain much from choosing Mr. Burgum as a vice president because he seems to exert little, if any, political influence outside his home state—and he has stated that he wouldn’t accept a vice presidential position.

Still, some political insiders insist there’s a chance that Mr. Burgum could stay in the running, mainly because the former president has continued to mention how much he likes Mr. Burgum. It helps that Mr. Burgum endorsed President Trump’s two prior presidential runs, too.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis

Attendees at President Trump’s appearances in early 2023 often wished aloud for a Trump–DeSantis ticket. Those hopes began to evaporate after Mr. DeSantis declared his candidacy in May 2023.

President Trump, who takes credit for catapulting Mr. DeSantis’s initial gubernatorial victory in 2018, branded Mr. DeSantis “disloyal” for opposing him. Their relationship went downhill from there.

Any chance of mending fences between the men appears to have been blown to smithereens during an acrimonious campaign, Mr. Jewett said.

That’s why, among about a dozen would-be running mates, Mr. DeSantis may rank as the least likely, he said, adding: “There’s no way he would do it, and there’s no way Trump would ask. The blood is just too bad.”

On a positive note: The 45-year-old married father of three has promoted conservative legislation and ideology in his home state of Florida, which earned him respect among many of President Trump’s supporters.

Even so, their refrain is: “He should have waited until 2028; now is not his time.”
Former HUD Secretary Dr. Ben Carson

Dr. Carson, 72, who ran against then-candidate Trump in the 2016 election, served as then-President Trump’s secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

On Dec. 27, 2023, Matt Schlapp, chair of the Conservative Political Action Conference, posted on X, formerly known as Twitter: “I think President Trump should pick Dr. Ben Carson for Vice President. It would be a dynamic relationship and he wouldn’t be picking his successor for 2028 either.” Dr. Carson, who is black, also could attract more minority voters.

A brain surgeon known for his soft-spoken, well-reasoned commentary, Dr. Carson has remained close to the former president.

Insiders confirmed to The Epoch Times that Dr. Carson is among a small group of allies who have been quietly, diligently working to craft policies for a possible second Trump administration.

Several media outlets, including The New York Times, have tagged him as a potential vice president for President Trump.

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders

President Trump’s press secretary for nearly two years, Ms. Sanders, endorsed his 2024 presidential run in October 2023. That was several months after media reports alleged that the two were at odds with each other because she hadn’t yet endorsed his third presidential run—after he endorsed her gubernatorial bid.

Like Ms. Noem, Ms. Sanders became the first female governor of her state. She just began her term of office in January 2023, however, and she lacks the broader political experience that Ms. Noem possesses. Both women come from states that are already viewed as solid for President Trump.

Rumors that Ms. Sanders, 41, could be a running mate for President Trump began circulating in 2022, even before he announced his reelection bid. However, she ranked low among AmericaFest attendees.

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), an influential and outspoken Republican, suggested in early 2023 that President Trump choose Ms. Sanders as his running mate. More recently, Mr. Gaetz has instead advocated for former Fox News host Tucker Carlson.

Former DNI John Ratcliffe

Mr. Ratcliffe, 58, served a short stint as director of national intelligence for President Trump. The Texas Republican also served in the U.S. House of Representatives and has been a federal prosecutor.
Mr. Ratcliffe is part of the behind-the-scenes policy-formulating group that includes Dr. Carson.

He has criticized some of the Biden administration’s foreign policy decisions on national TV and on social media.

The NY Times named him as a possible vice presidential pick, but he has gained little notice in other publications, surveys, or online chatter.
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

Mr. Pompeo, 60, who served first as the CIA director and then U.S. secretary of state, denounced the indictment of the former president on New York business records charges in late March 2023—the first of four indictments against him.

He formerly represented Kansas as a congressman.

Mr. Pompeo had mulled a 2024 presidential run but decided against it.

In early 2023, he released a memoir in which he alleged that Ms. Haley plotted to displace Mr. Pence and become vice president—a claim she denied, according to media reports.

Like Mr. Ratcliffe, Mr. Pompeo hasn’t been widely discussed as a running mate.

US Rep. Elise Stefanik

The youngest congresswoman to hold office when she was elected in 2014, Ms. Stefanik, now 39, has increasingly gained more national attention and political clout.

She has served since 2021 as House Republican Conference Chair, the third-most powerful position in that chamber.

Ms. Stefanik has strongly defended the former president during his two impeachment trials, and she endorsed him in early November 2022, even before he made his 2024 run official. Mainstream media reports labeled her as a moderate Republican who has morphed into a star of President Trump’s “Make America Great Again” (MAGA) movement.

The former president has hosted political fundraisers for her, and multiple media outlets have stated that the two talk regularly and seem to share a certain affinity. Speculation about a Trump vice presidential berth for her has been persistent as her star continues to rise.

Ms. Stefanik made headlines for decrying “the weaponization” of government agencies, for criticizing Senate Democrats’ probe of the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol breach, and for her work with House Republicans’ impeachment inquiry into President Biden and his family’s alleged financial enrichment.

Ms. Stefanik made a lasting impression in early December 2023 when she confronted the presidents of several major universities during a congressional hearing that explored rising anti-Semitism on U.S. campuses. Ms. Stefanik castigated Harvard University President Claudine Gay for allowing on-campus speeches calling for Jewish genocide in the wake of the Oct. 7, 2023, Hamas terrorist invasion of Israel.

Despite her recent headline-making actions, Ms. Stefanik’s name is absent from the Newsweek article about its poll, and she barely registered support among the AmericaFest attendees.

Also, she hails from New York, a state that many people believe will remain Democrat-dominant in 2024. President Trump may look for a running mate from a more “flippable” state.
US Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene

The 49-year-old Georgia Republican had been largely uninvolved in politics until then-candidate Donald Trump caught her attention in 2016. His candidacy inspired her to start blogging. She became increasingly active in politics and decided to run for Congress in 2019; she won.

In January 2021, Ms. Greene endeared herself to MAGA supporters–and made an indelible impression—when she showed up to take her congressional oath of office wearing a black COVID-19 face mask bearing the words “TRUMP WON” in white letters.

From the start, Ms. Greene has been in President Trump’s corner; her loyalty to him seems to be unflappable, a quality he values greatly. But she has been embroiled in a number of controversies and is known for her combative style.

Although many MAGA fans adore Ms. Greene, some pundits say a Trump–Greene ticket might be overpowering because the former president is also known as a “fighter.”

However, while many other potential running mates have either remained silent or have expressed disinterest, Ms. Greene said she would be “honored” to serve as President Trump’s running mate.

She drew only about 1 percent support in the Newsweek poll and less than that in the AmericaFest poll; Ms. Greene also didn’t rate highly on the political betting site.

But, like Ms. Noem, Ms. Greene is scheduled to hit the Iowa campaign trail on President Trump’s behalf in January.

The Wildcards

Conservative political commentator Tucker Carlson

Mr. Carlson, 54, is a fan favorite for President Trump’s running mate, especially among the AmericaFest audience, where he was the top vote-getter at 35 percent; 5 percent of people in the Newsweek survey picked him.

Analysts have said he’s an unlikely choice, partly because he has no prior political experience and partly because he has stated that it’s hard to envision himself in such a role. Also, Mr. Carlson, after being fired from Fox News, has been working on other projects, including further establishing his own news-dissemination services.

Mr. Carlson has come to President Trump’s defense in recent months, denouncing the prosecutions that the former president is facing. Mr. Carlson said he intends to vote for President Trump—unless the latter chooses Ms. Haley as a running mate.

Mr. Carlson also said he would lead protests if the former president is convicted of any of the charges against him.

Mr. Carlson and President Trump have proved to be a tour de force on social media together. On Aug. 23, 2023, the same night as a GOP presidential debate, an interview between Mr. Carlson and President Trump drew 75 million views within an hour after it was posted on X.

In private text messages, which surfaced as part of a lawsuit against Fox News, Mr. Carlson stated in 2020 that he despised President Trump. But Mr. Carlson said that those statements were made in frustration because he felt that someone in the Trump campaign had provided him with inaccurate information.

Independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Mr. Kennedy, 69, is a political newcomer but carries clout because of his family’s storied history in U.S. politics.

He is a son of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and nephew of President John F. Kennedy and Sen. Ted Kennedy, all of whom are deceased.

Even though his father and President Kennedy were both assassinated, Mr. Kennedy lacks Secret Service protection. President Biden’s administration has rejected his request for that help three times.

He and President Trump have made positive comments about each other, and some of the former president’s allies have stated that they think Mr. Kennedy would be a good choice. Known as an environmentalist and vaccine-safety advocate and formerly a lifelong Democrat, Mr. Kennedy could attract new voters to President Trump’s camp from those groups.

Choosing him might afford President Trump an extra strategic advantage because it would prevent him from siphoning away votes that he needs to defeat President Biden.

Speculation about his serving in that capacity continued circulating even after Mr. Kennedy told Forbes magazine that he would refuse an offer to serve as a vice president under President Trump.

Mr. Jewett, the political science professor, said that if President Trump were able to persuade Mr. Kennedy to become his running mate, it could help show that President Trump is willing to “reach across the aisle” to non-Republicans.

Mr. Kennedy would be a “really outside-the-box choice,” though, and “a lot of Republicans might not embrace that.”

But Mr. Jewett said choosing Mr. Kennedy would surely be a step toward “shaking up the race or doing something that’s a little different.”

Others in the Mix

Two prior candidates for governor, Kari Lake of Arizona and Tudor Dixon of Michigan, have also been mentioned as possible running mates for President Trump. But neither woman’s campaign was successful, so that’s a mark against them, Mr. Jewett said.

In their favor, both come from swing states where President Trump could benefit from added support, especially from women. Of the two, Ms. Lake is far better known. She drew 8 percent support in the Newsweek survey, a fourth-place ranking, and is frequently named on social media and in media outlets’ speculation about running mate picks.

Republican members of Congress considered as possible running mates include Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Reps. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.), Wesley Hunt (R-Texas), and Nancy Mace (R-N.C.).

Additional long shots: former Democrat Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez.

Both Mr. Suarez and Mr. Rubio had sought the presidency; they’re also both Hispanic, a trait that could motivate more voters of that ethnicity.

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