Nov 20, 2023 - Politics

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's vice-presidential chances

Gov. Greg Abbott appeared with former president Donald Trump yesterday in South Texas. Photo: Michael Gonzalez/Getty Images

With the 2024 presidential election less than a year out, Gov. Greg Abbott is shaping up to be a potential vice presidential candidate, per politics experts interviewed by Axios.

Why it matters: Border security is likely to be a major issue in next year's general election, and a conservative border governor like Abbott could amplify the GOP nominee's message.

Driving the news: Abbott endorsed Donald Trump on Sunday in an appearance with the former president in the border city of Edinburg.

  • "We need a president who's going to secure the border," Abbott said. "We need a president who's going to restore law and order."

Between the lines: Even as Abbott has shied away from expressing interest in a move to Washington — questions left by Axios with Abbott's office and his campaign went unanswered — he has acted like someone positioning himself for national office.

What they're saying: Abbott "certainly ticks off many of the boxes," for a vice presidential candidate, Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston, tells Axios.

  • He has a national profile.
  • He's a prolific fundraiser.
  • "He's effective on the stump, even if he's not the most successful retail politician," Rottinghaus says. "He can deliver the lines and get out."
  • And Abbott can sell the Texas miracle — tax cuts and low regulations — as a recipe that can be recreated.

The intrigue: Abbott "has certainly been very loyal to former President Trump, so he has that going for him," University of Texas political scientist Sean Theriault tells Axios. "Being from the more establishment wing of the party could also be a way of unifying the Republican Party in the same way that then-Governor Pence did in 2016."

  • Plus, "there is very little chance that Abbott would try to outshine Trump, which is one of the requirements — and why someone like Kari Lake would be passed over," Theriault said.

Also, having served nearly a decade as governor and a year out from a double-digit thrashing of a well-known, well-funded Democratic challenger, Abbott appears ripe for a new challenge.

Yes, but: The Republican nominee will almost certainly win Texas anyway, so a Texas governor offers no real electoral help.

  • And some of the policies Abbott supports, on border barriers or abortion, for example, may turn off general election voters, Rottinghaus says.
  • To the question of whether it was a conscious decision to position Abbott as a vice-presidential candidate and the governor's thinking on joining a ticket, Abbott campaign consultant Dave Carney tells Axios: "Zero thought on that and I doubt he would consider it even for a minute."

Plus: If Donald Trump clinches the nomination, he may pick someone like South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem in a year in which suburban women may provide the crucial swing votes.

The bottom line: Texas governors are inevitably in the mix for a White House run, with one clinching the top job and another falling very short.


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