Jun 6, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Trump's search for a loyal, low-key VP

8 headshots show Trump's vice president shortlist, as of June 6, 2024. Potential VPs include Tim Scott, J.D. Vance, Tom Cotton and Elise Stefanik.
Chart: Axios Visuals

Donald Trump is known for controversy and drama, but he wants a vice president who's reliable, low-drama and, above all, loyal.

Why it matters: The norm-crushing former president, back campaigning after his felony conviction, wants a no-hassle running mate who'll appeal to traditional Republicans — including moderates who feel left behind by his MAGA machine.

  • If you're thinking that sounds a lot like Mike Pence, Trump's former vice president, you're not wrong.
  • But Pence famously fell out of favor over his refusal to go along with Trump's plan to stop Congress' certification of the 2020 election on Jan. 6, 2021 — making him the focus of death threats from Trump supporters.
  • This time, the VP prospects' shows of loyalty — most recently as supporters at Trump's trial in New York — seemed especially significant.

State of play: Trump's campaign has requested financial and other documents from eight contenders. Among them:

  • North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum — Trump likes Burgum's measured demeanor and his experience as governor, Axios reported previously, as well as his success in business.
  • Sen. JD Vance (R-Ohio) — Trump's top Senate ally and author of "Hillbilly Elegy," he's been lauded by allies as an articulate voice for populist conservatives. Vance is friends with Donald Trump Jr. and has said he initially wasn't a fan of the elder Trump but became a believer.
  • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) came up as a traditional Republican under the wing of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and has experience in foreign policy, including working with Trump during his presidency.
  • Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) is well liked among his Senate Republican colleagues and a prolific fundraiser. He's worked on legislation with Trump in the past.
  • Former HUD Secretary Ben Carson was a loyal cabinet member who served all of Trump's first term. He was a pediatric neurosurgeon before entering politics.
  • Others being vetted include Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) and Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.).
  • What they're saying: "Anyone claiming to know who or when President Trump will choose his VP is lying," Trump senior adviser Brian Hughes told Axios. "Unless the person is named Donald J. Trump."
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