The Fight for Second Place: Trump's Pick For a Running Mate
Updated: 6 hours ago
Many names have graced the lips of political pundits around the world, who, ready and rearing for the US presidential election next year, speculate and note who’s going to be running. And yet, it seems increasingly clear to many that a certain well-known golf club owner will be the one to appear on the ballot for the Republican Party.
According to analysis by The Telegraph, Trump possesses a 57% lead in the race for the Republican nomination. This stands a whopping 43 points ahead of his nearest challenger, Ron DeSantis, on a flaccid 14%. The whole thing might seem pretty bleak for others in the race.
"...who’s running for second-place? You’re second-in-command, you’re still second-in-command of the most powerful country on the planet. Still sounds pretty good…"
With this in mind, it could be more insightful to think about the race in terms of who’s running for second place... Who might really be running for the chance at a stint as Trump’s vice president? After all, even though you’re second-in-command, you’re still second-in-command of the most powerful country on the planet. Famously, a heartbeat away from the presidency. Still sounds pretty good. Perhaps you’ve had a thought. Got it in your head that after four years at the head of the executive branch, Trump might just be bored of all those nagging details… Could you be the one who could slavishly take on that burden whilst The Donald fills his time with empty grand gestures and fawns over why his people do not love him as they should?
Who Wants the Job and Who Doesn’t Want It?
First of all, we can separate the goats and the sheep. Judging by performances in the first televised Republican debate, hosted by Fox in Milwaukee, which candidates might be vying for the office of vice president and who’s most likely to have their sights on the top job alone…
Let’s start with those who are really running for the presidency. As I’ve already made clear, DeSantis seemed to be a dead cert a few months ago and anyone would have guessed the first televised debate to be an important moment for him. He had the most to lose and he really did. Peppered with artificial smiles and reeking of awkwardness, Trump’s night was made all the better by such a supine performance. Chris Christie and Asa Hutchinson would also seem to be legitimate in their ambitions given their scathing critiques of Trump. Famously thin-skinned, it's hard to imagine Trump would accept anything other than abject praise from any contender for his VP. Both of them will know this so are they either running for the presidency or, recognising the likelihood of a Trump nomination, and possibly presidency, attempting to establish their anti-Trump credentials for future internal republican disputes?
It’s barely worth mentioning Mike Pence. Trump openly suggested that people “would not accept” Pence as vice president given his ‘failure’ to disregard ballots in the Senate during the 2020 election. With some stern Trump criticism under his belt, Pence is tired of second fiddle and is wholly vying for the top job - however unlikely that may be.
With this in mind, the remaining candidates from the debate include: Tim Scott, Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy and Doug Bergum. Despite attracting the most attention in the debate, Ramaswamy’s attempt to position himself as another Trumpian voice may not secure him second place without assurances to Trump that he wouldn’t upstage him. As a businessman, Ramaswamy may be viewing his run for president much as Trump did in 2016 in the sense that he viewed it in terms of publicity. According to Micheal Wolff, not expecting to win the presidency, Trump considered his 2016 campaign as a tool to bolster his brand and retain his relevance. Even if Ramaswamy was using this playbook, he still wouldn’t be one to ignore.
From the outside, Haley may be well placed as a contender for VP due to her experience and history as a Trump supporter. However, her race may be one to watch as she clearly tried to balance Trump’s pros and cons, weighing his successes and failures. Even acknowledging such failures may not be to Trump’s liking.
Scott, someone whom Trump notes as “talented”, seems to offer much to a second Trump administration as a black conservative who emphasises his politics before his race, he could be very popular among Republican voters. With 28 years of experience in local, state and national politics he may also prove to be a useful source of advice; whether Trump would actually listen to the advice of his second-in-command is a different matter, he only needs voters to think he would listen.
It hasn’t always been easy to predict what Trump may do and there could be some picks who weren’t even on the stage. When asked about who he has in mind, Trump has also suggested Henry McMaster, governor of South Carolina; Kristi Noem, governor of South Dakota, drawing large support due to Trump’s presence at rallies in the state and striking up a friendship with the former president; and Kari Lake the 2022 Republican nominee for Arizona governor, whose ardent support of the 2020 election being stolen has attracted support from Trump.
Margorie Taylor-Greene has also made it clear to reporters that Trump is considering her for his running mate. This claim has been supported by journalists who have said Trump is tempted by her unwavering loyalty and subsequent popularity with the MAGA mob.
What Trump Might Be Looking For
The main problem for pundits is what Trump wants from his vice president. Someone who can sweat the small stuff while he does as he likes - someone like Dick Cheney- or someone to stand in the background and praise each breath he takes. A pen-pusher or a lap dog? Perhaps another window dresser with a big voter base like Mike Pence? He confirmed to Christian conservatives that Trump would be their man and evangelical Christian support for Trump held fast.
"The main problem for pundits is what does Trump want from his vice president?... A pen-pusher or a lap dog? Perhaps another window dresser like Mike Pence"
Another thing to consider, same as when he left office and people weren’t sure if he’d run again, is how Trump stood as a kingmaker. Only able to serve one term, Trump’s vice president could be well placed to succeed him; making things all the more tempting. Although this point does assume things run smoothly a second time around…
At any rate, Trump still has to answer for his attempts to overturn election results in Georgia, hush money payments to Stormy Daniels in New York and his influence in the riots on January 6th, which may disqualify him from running due to provisions against supporting insurrection under the 14th Amendment. In any event that Trump couldn’t run, there are plenty of people willing to take his place.
If he does win the nomination and is able to run, we’ll still have to wait until July or August next year to get a final answer on the Republicans' pick. Who knows what will happen by then…
Take a look at the Republican Debate in full: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFIBpVMoxWs
Marjorie Taylor-Greene on VP: https://www.businessinsider.com/donald-trump-repeatedly-discussing-marjorie-taylor-greene-running-mate-2022-10?r=US&IR=T
Polls by The Telegraph: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/0/us-election-2024-poll-tracker-trump-desantis-biden/