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Five months until the election, Trump has yet to choose a vice presidential candidateExBulletin

Five months until the election, Trump has yet to choose a vice presidential candidateExBulletin
Five months until the election, Trump has yet to choose a vice presidential candidateExBulletin

 


With less than a month until the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee, former President Trump is narrowing his options by choosing a 2024 running mate.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

We are just weeks away from one of the most important political events of the election campaign. That would be the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee. Former President Trump is, of course, the party's presumptive nominee. He has not yet announced his running mate. In a recent interview with Fox News, he once again sidestepped the question of who that would be.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, “FOX NEWS”)

DONALD TRUMP: I kind of have a pretty good idea. Look, we have some really talented people. I have a pretty good idea, but I think it's… I'll probably do it the way we usually do it.

KELLYExBulletin's Franco Ordoez and Jeongyoon Han are here with me now to figure out which candidates could rise to the top and why it matters. Welcome to both of you.

FRANCO ORDOEZ, BYLINE: Hello, Mary Louise.

JEONGYOON HAN, BYLINE: Hi.

KELLY: Hi. Okay, Jeongyoon, you're kicking us off. I have to say, this is already looking like the longest vice presidential search in history.

HAN: Yeah.

KELLY: Where are things right now?

HAN: Yeah, I mean, it really is. Trump has been the party's presumptive nominee for months now, which is why the speculation is only intensifying. Trump said early on that there were up to 15 candidates on the list, but that list is shrinking quickly. He recently requested the financial records of eight people, indicating he is reviewing those candidates.

Meanwhile, Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Doug Burgum, the governor of North Dakota, are some of the names that have risen to the top. We're also closely watching South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott and New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik. They are all loyal Trump allies who have made an effort to support him without stealing the spotlight. So they put the ball in Trump's court, and he finds himself in a critical period as he makes a final decision.

KELLY: And Franco comes in here. There have been moments – I admit – that have reminded me recently of the days of Trump's reality TV shows. I wonder if you share this experience and how it translates into the vice president selection process.

ORDÔEZ: Yeah. It's really like his old show, “The Apprentice.” I mean, that's Trump's modus operandi. I mean, he's a showman. It’s a way for him to make headlines, to control the narrative. And it invites speculation. You know, he talks about it on the campaign trail and fuels it as a fundraiser. I mean, really, from the beginning there was little doubt that Trump was the nominee, so the focus naturally turned to the vice presidential nominee race.

KELLY: This is the only drama on the Republican side.

ORDÔEZ: Exactly.

KELLY: Yeah.

ORDOEZ: You know, and him speaking out on this, it really gives him more opportunity to see how, you know, they handle media scrutiny. You know, he likes people who are good on TV, who do well on TV, and he sees how they talk about him.

KELLY: Jeongyoon, more details on what we think Trump might be looking for this time.

HAN: Well, I mean, at the end of the day, it's a race, and so he just wants someone who can help him win. That's what Mike Pence did for him in 2016. The former Indiana governor attracted more evangelical voters to Trump. This was a group that until then had been skeptical of him. But today, evangelicals are among its strongest supporters. He must therefore appeal to another group of voters. I asked Alex Conant about this. He is a Republican strategist who worked on Marco Rubio's 2016 presidential campaign.

ALEX CONANT: Trump really, really wants to win this election. So he's going to be looking for someone who will appeal to independent voters, conservatives and potentially even some Democrats.

HAN: This is especially important because, as a new NPR/PBS News/Marist poll shows, the race is a dead heat between Biden and Trump. So Trump is definitely thinking about who can attract new voters. But as Franco said, it's also about performance. Remember, this person will have to debate Vice President Harris when the time comes. And depending on the likely timing of this debate, it could take place right after their selection and nomination to the convention. It must therefore be someone who can be operational.

KELLY: Franco, dig into some of the details that each of these names – Marco Rubio, Doug Burgum, Tim Scott, Elise Stefanik – what they would bring if they were ultimately chosen.

ORDÔEZ: Yeah. Jeongyoon mentioned loyalty and not overshadowing Trump. All the names you just mentioned fit this definition. It's also about how many voters you can attract. Tim Scott, of course, is the only black Republican senator. He actually just launched a nearly $15 million campaign with his own PAC to help attract black and brown voters in swing states.

Elise Stefanik, she is one of the few women on this list. She is also a young leader. And she's really embraced the traditional attack role of vice-presidential candidates — going after virtually anyone who goes after Trump, whether it's Biden or the prosecutors. Of course, fundraising is also an important factor, and these two candidates have also been very good for congressional candidates.

KELLY: And what about the other two – Rubio and Burgum?

ORDOEZ: Well, Burgum is rich, so he also helps raise money. I mean, he's a successful businessman and so he can relate to Trump on that business level.

Marco Rubio, he's been getting a lot of attention lately. He is bilingual. He is Hispanic. You know, he grew closer to Trump during his first administration, even acting as an advisor on key foreign policy issues like Latin America and China. He also has some of those traditional Republican values ​​that could help Trump push back some of these moderate Republicans.

And just one more name we haven't talked about yet: JD Vance. He is a favorite of many Trump supporters and could be something of a sleeper pick. He actually won last weekend's poll at the Turning Point convention. In fact, he may be the closest incarnation of the Trump movement.

KELLY: I'm going to up the ante and add one more name – Nikki Haley, who, of course, Trump defeated in the primary. She has now said she will vote for him. Could this lead anywhere?

ORDOEZ: Well, I mean, she was definitely one of the first people in the beginning. But of course, she ran against Trump, she was his rival for a long time, you know, she withdrew from the race. And, you know, things got pretty – you know, pretty tense between the two. So I don't expect it, but Trump is someone who surprises very often.

KELLY: Okay, moron. Jeongyoon, I have to ask, given Mike Pence's experience last time, why would these or other candidates want to serve as Trump's VP?

HAN: You're right. Mike Pence was probably a good example of how being associated with Trump wasn't always the best option and clearly didn't turn out well for him. And being associated with Trump more broadly hasn't always been seen as a wise move. Alex Conant says that in 2016, for example, the conventional wisdom was that Trump was going to lose, and no one wanted that kind of baggage.

CONANT: Now, it's the exact opposite of that. I think they think he's going to win, and he only has one round left. So whoever the vice president picks now, he'll be the front-runner at this point for 2028, which isn't that far away.

HAN: So a lot of it is about their political future, because whoever becomes Trump's running mate will certainly secure their place in the party for decades to come.

KELLY: Franco, one last word: what's the latest on Trump? What kind of timing are we actually looking at for this announcement?

ORDOEZ: I mean, Trump is taking his time. I mean, he's letting the hype continue to build before making an official announcement, which is expected to happen just before or during the Republican National Convention next month.

I mean, when it comes to specific people, like the ones we're talking about here, a senior advisor told me that anyone who claims to know who or when President Trump will choose as vice president is lying unless the person knows. 'calls Donald J. Trump. That said, these names we're discussing are all working extremely hard to get Trump's attention in recent weeks.

KELLY: Reporting from two of our colleagues in the Washington bureau. NPR's Franco Ordoez. THANKS.

ORDÔEZ: Thank you.

KELLY: And Jeongyoon Han. THANKS.

HAN: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF EL MICHEL CASE'S “SHADOWBOXING”)

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