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Pence ordeal does not deter potential Trump partners

Pence ordeal does not deter potential Trump partners
Pence ordeal does not deter potential Trump partners

 


CNN-

Being Donald Trump's vice president didn't end well for Mike Pence, but there's no sign that his painful breakup with the ex-president over his unconstitutional demands is scaring off hopefuls eager to step into his place.

The Republican candidates' alleged search for a new number two is expected to culminate in a dramatic reveal at the Republican National Convention in a month's time, likely choreographed to provoke a surge in television ratings.

At various times, the list of possible contenders included Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, Florida Rep. Byron Donalds and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson.

Trump has broken all conventions about running for president and serving in the Oval Office. And subjecting potential vice presidential candidates to a televised audition process is no exception. The old-school playbook in which potential candidates feign a lack of interest in the job to maximize their chances of getting it is antithetical to the Trump way of operating.

Possible choices trying to get Trump's attention go on television, knowing he's probably watching, and sprinkle compliments, talk about his chances of winning, amplify his election fraud conspiracy theories and denounce his criminal conviction. Some have made it clear that they would not have done what Pence did on January 6, 2021, when he concluded that he did not have the power to change the outcome of the 2020 congressional elections.

The near-total embrace of Trump's mantras suggests that the experience of the last Republican vice president being hounded with calls of Hang Mike Pence by members of the Trump mob that attacked the Capitol doesn't give them much in the way of respite. This is despite history suggesting that at some point in their potential term, a possible President Trump might ask them to do something that would test their conscience, the law or the Constitution.

The allure of the vice presidential nomination perhaps reflects Trump's magnetism and the heady euphoria of being a key player in the Make America Great Again movement. For people with ambition, whether emerging politicians or those who have always dreamed of the presidency but failed to achieve it, the vice presidency can be an attractive proposition. This job comes with many indignities, including always being overshadowed by the boss, taking trips abroad he doesn't want to take, and having no real formal obligations aside from being a constitutional safety net in the event of the death of the president. But the growing belief among Republicans that the presidency is there for the taking this year, as evidenced by their optimistic public statements, means that a spot on the Trump ticket is a hot ticket. And morbidly, there is a chance of being a heartbeat away from the presidency alongside a commander in chief who would be 82 years old at the end of his term.

In many ways, Pence created a role model until, in the last two weeks of his term, he fractured his relationship with his president and ruined his political career after the West Wing took over. He could hardly have been more loyal to Trump, even as ex-presidents botched the handling of a once-in-a-century pandemic, and that loyalty sometimes manifested itself in reverence for his eyes. foggy.

Trump may not be thinking about what will happen to his MAGA movement when he is no longer active in politics. But a second-term vice president might also be able to become his political heir, a particularly attractive proposition for someone like Vance, a 39-year-old who has gone from harsh critic of Trump to protégé of MAGA.

The senator, who is in his first term, was not afraid to highlight his own credentials. In surprisingly candid comments on Fox News on Monday, he said: If Trump picks up the phone and calls you, the first kind of thought you have to have with yourself is not just could I be vice president, but could I ultimately become vice president? the big chair? And look, if he asked me, I would think about it, but I think the answer is yes, he said.

The Ohio Republican said Trump didn't ask him about the job, but made clear in an interview with CNN's Kaitlan Collins in May that he wasn't discouraged by what happened to Pence on January 6, 2021, after Trump publicly called on him to use his power as vice president to oversee the counting of Electoral College votes to overturn President Joe Biden's victory. I am extremely skeptical that Mike Pence's life was ever in danger, Vance said.

He also made it clear to Trump that he would not have adopted Pence's interpretation of constitutional limits on vice-presidential powers. If I had been vice president, I would have told the states, like Pennsylvania, Georgia and many others, that we needed multiple slates of electors and I think the United States Congress should have fought to go from there, Vance told ABC News. in February. This is the legitimate way to handle an election that many people, myself included, said was a lot of problems in 2020. I think it's what we should have done. There is no constitutional justification for such a step.

Vance is one of several potential vice presidential candidates, along with Rubio and Burgum, to whom the Trump campaign has sent verification documents, CNN reported earlier this month.

Burgum took a classic route of turning an unsuccessful presidential campaign into a spot in the vice presidential derby. In some ways, he resembles Pence, who was a deeply conservative governor of Indiana. The North Dakota governor also demonstrated the kind of unquestioning loyalty that Trump values. He's wealthy, a self-made businessman and the kind of person the ex-president spent his life with in boardrooms and golf clubs. And he's not flamboyant enough to make headlines for past and perhaps future presidents.

Burgum said he believed Biden won the 2020 election, but also expressed concerns about its fairness, playing on Trump's false claims that changes in voting practices to accommodate the urgency of Covid-19 amounted to fraud. And he also endeared himself to the ex-president by downplaying his criminal conviction in New York for falsifying business records to hide a hush money payment to a former adult film star as a mere accounting trifle .

Rubio has taken a more low-key approach compared to some of his rivals. But the Florida senator, who many in Washington say still harbors presidential ambitions after losing humiliatingly to Trump in the 2016 primary, appears to have tried to make himself more palatable as a vice candidate. -presidency. He sharply criticized Trump's conviction in New York and said in May on NBC's Meet the Press that he would only accept the outcome of the 2024 election if it was fair, despite the absence of any indication that it would not be.

On the same show, he reported that despite his past mocking of Trump during the 2016 election campaign and many of his initial positions on issues such as foreign policy and immigration appearing to conflict with the ex-president, he would be ready to serve alongside him. . “I think anyone who was offered this position to serve this country in the second highest position taking on everything else in their life makes sense at that point, if you're interested in serving the country, it's is an incredible place to serve,” he said. Most recently, Rubio addressed speculation about a possible inside track for vice president by joining Trump for policy discussions ahead of the first presidential debate on CNN next Thursday.

While the focus has been on Rubio, Burgum and Vance, Trump's unorthodox approach and love of throwing people off balance means a surprise pick cannot be ruled out. One potential candidate whose star appears to have faded is South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, who published a book earlier this year in an apparent bid to boost her chances but found herself mired in controversy over her story of shooting the family dog.

During an appearance on CNN's State of the Union on June 9, Noem looked like she was trying to revive her candidacy, as she urged Trump to choose a female running mate. All the polls tell him in these swing states that a woman on the list helps him win. That's what the polls say, she said. Referring to a campaign trip to swing state Wisconsin, the South Dakota governor said independent and Trump-leaning voters also want to know their views will be considered when decisions are made .

Less than a month before Trump makes his choice, it's unclear who it will be. And that's how the ex-president likes it.

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