Updated Apr 3, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Tracking Trump's potential VP picks

Chart: Axios Visuals
Chart: Axios Visuals

Republicans are auditioning for the role of former President Trump's running mate, with top contenders believed to include Sen. Tim Scott, Rep. Elise Stefanik and Sen. J.D. Vance.

The big picture: This is one of the biggest choices Trump will make during his third presidential bid. Loyalty is a top criteria for the former president, and the right choice could also help him appeal to Trump-skeptical voting blocs, such as suburban women.

State of play: As Trump effectively locked up the nomination on Super Tuesday, senior campaign adviser Jason Miller said the VP list was "growing and getting longer," and that Trump was "quite a ways away" from deciding.

  • Trump said in January that he'd already made his decision, but the campaign campaign quickly downplayed the claim.
  • One man who won't be picked is former Vice President Mike Pence. That means there will be a new name on the 2024 GOP ticket.

Here's a look at whom that might be:

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.)

  • Scott, one of the most prominent Black Republicans in the country, suspended his presidential campaign in November and has since campaigned for the former president.
  • Scott did not rule out becoming Trump's running mate, saying on CNN's "State of the Union" that "the only thing I want is four more years of Donald Trump" and a Republican majority in Congress.
  • Asked about his VP shortlist during a Fox News town hall in February, Trump pointed to Scott and said, "A lot of people are talking about that gentleman right over there."

Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.)

  • The chair of the House GOP conference is "at the top" of the list, former Trump chief strategist Steve Bannon told NBC News.
  • Stefanik was the first member of Congress to endorse Trump and campaigned with him in New Hampshire.
  • "She's a killer," Trump reportedly told allies in December, shortly after Stefanik's viral confrontation with university presidents at a hearing on campus anti-Semitism.

Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio)

Former HUD Secretary Ben Carson

  • Carson was among Trump's longest-serving cabinet members and remained loyal to Trump after the Jan. 6 insurrection.
  • He campaigned with Trump in Iowa before the caucuses.

Arizona Senate candidate Kari Lake

  • Lake, a former TV news anchor, was seen as a top choice, particularly as Trump has suggested he might want a female running mate. But she's a long shot because she's running for Senate and could help Republicans take control of that chamber if she wins.
  • The right-wing firebrand is one of Trump's top surrogates on the campaign trail and on TV. Her star has risen in conservative circles despite her failed bid for governor. She has denied the results of that election, along with Trump's defeat in 2020.

Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy

  • Ramaswamy ran against Trump in the 2024 presidential Republican primary before dropping out, endorsing him and campaigning on his behalf.
  • Trump condemned Ramaswamy as "not MAGA" as he gained traction in the polls but has since praised the biotech entrepreneur, who has never held office.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem

  • Trump name-dropped the South Dakota governor and Fox News regular in February, saying: "Kristi Noem has been incredible fighting for me. She said 'I'd never run against him because I can't beat him.' That was a very nice thing to say."
  • Noem told Fox in February that she and Trump "talk all the time," but that the two have "never had that conversation" about her potentially being his running mate.
  • Reports of an affair with former Trump aide Corey Lewandowski may hurt her chances.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott

  • Trump said he "would very much consider Abbott" for VP during a joint Fox News interview on Feb. 29 about border security, an issue on which Abbott is a fierce hardliner.
  • Abbott said he was "committed to governing Texas" and to his own re-election campaign.

Sen. Katie Britt (R-Ala.)

  • Britt delivered the Republican State of the Union response in what could have been a VP audition for the freshman senator. Her performance was praised by some Republicans but mocked by those outside the party.

Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.)

  • Donalds only been in Congress since 2021 but the Freedom Caucus Republican has strong support from conservatives.
  • He'd likely pass Trump's loyalty test. Donalds suggested Thursday at an Axios event that he would be willing to decline to certify the 2028 election results if he were vice president.

Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders

  • Trump's White House press secretary endorsed his 2024 presidential bid — after a delay — though Sanders claimed in February to have no interest in the VP job.

Former Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard

  • Gabbard, who ran an unsuccessful presidential campaign in 2019 then left the Democratic Party in 2022, has reportedly been considered by some Trump allies to be his VP pick in November.
  • The former Hawaii representative said in March that she "would be open" to being on Trump's ticket, adding that her "mission is to serve our country."
  • Gabbard reportedly turned down an offer from Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s to be his 2024 running mate.

Former UN ambassador Nikki Haley

  • Haley refused to endorse Trump after dropping out and told the WSJ nominating him would be "suicide for our country."
  • That makes her an unlikely choice, though Trump was reportedly considering a unity ticket late last year, and Haley could help attract moderates.
  • The former South Carolina governor has said that she is not anti-Trump but that she doesn't "play for second."

Editor's note: This story was updated with additional developments.

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