Who will Donald Trump pick as his vice-president?

Who will Donald Trump pick as his vice-president?
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  • By Holly Honderich and Sam Cabral
  • BBC News, Washington
24 January 2024

Updated 5 hours ago

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption, Former rivals of Donald Trump’s could battle it out to become his vice-president

The competition to become Donald Trump’s vice-presidential candidate is heating up.

Trump has teased crowds with a lengthy shortlist. However, if tradition holds we still have months before learning his selection from him.

Former VP Mike Pence will not be selected. The two fell out over the 6 January 2021 Capitol riot, and Mr Pence does not plan to vote for his old boss in November.

Here is a look at names rumored to be in the mix.

Tim Scott

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption, Once a rival of Donald Trump, Senator Tim Scott has since thrown his support behind the former president

Senator Tim Scott, arguably the most prominent black Republican in the country, was among the competitors Mr Trump defeated in the party’s primary contest.

Mr Scott, 58, pitched his brand of optimistic conservativism, in a play for the influential evangelical Christian vote in early voting states, but his campaign never caught .

After struggling to raise money, and three lackluster debate performances, he exited and quickly endorsed Mr Trump.

It was his rousing remarks at a Trump campaign rally before the New Hampshire primary that elevated him as a top contender for vice-president.

“We need Donald Trump,” he said, before appearing on stage during his fellow Republican’s victory speech.

Since then, Mr Trump has often remarked that Mr Scott is “much better [at advocating] for me than he was for himself.”

Doug Burgum

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Another of Mr Trump’s fallen primary opponents, Doug Burgum, 67, is in his second term as governor of North Dakota.

Mr Burgum made little impact as a presidential candidate but has returned to the campaign trail with his endorsement of Mr Trump.

A social conservative and fiscal hawk, he said in 2023 that he would never conduct business with Mr Trump because “you’re judged by the company you keep”.

Mr Burgum began his career with a small software start-up later acquired by Microsoft and his years of entrepreneurship have earned him a billionaire fortune.

He is reported to have impressed Mr Trump with his low-drama demeanor and political know-how – attributes that led to the selection of Mr Pence in 2016.

Elise Stefanik

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Elise Stefanik, 39, is a New York congresswoman and the highest-ranking Republican woman in the US House of Representatives.

The once-moderate Trump-hesitant Republican has drifted to the right in recent years, and is now widely considered one of Mr Trump’s most loyal defenders on Capitol Hill, even joining his defense at his first impeachment trial in 2020.

She has said that she would be “honored” to serve in the Trump administration “in any capacity.”

Marco Rubio

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Mr Trump and Marco Rubio did not get on in the 2016 Republican primary race. Mr Trump called him “Little Marco” – a reference to his stature – while Mr Rubio commented about Mr Trump’s small hands.

The Florida senator has since worked closely with his former rival, endorsing him early on in this primary season.

The son of working-class immigrants, Mr Rubio was once floated as a potential running mate to 2012 Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

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At only 52 he is comparatively young and telegenic, and he could help Mr Trump gain a larger share of the Latino vote.

J.D. Vance

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JD Vance, 39, the junior senator from Ohio, has rallied support for Mr Trump on several occasions in recent months.

The Yale-educated former venture capitalist wrote the best-selling book Hillbilly Elegy, a memoir that followed his blue-collar upbringing in the “rust-belt” Midwest.

Once a self-identified “never-Trumper”, Mr Vance refashioned himself when he ran for the Senate in 2022 with Mr Trump’s crucial endorsement.

In office, he has championed many of the issues that encourage Mr Trump’s base.

Mr Vance believes he would be of better use to a future Trump administration in the Senate, but he has not ruled out being vice-president.

“I want to help him however I can,” he recently said.

Kristi Noem

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Kristi Noem, the governor of South Dakota, once topped a poll taken by mostly Trump diehards on who he should pick as his vice-president.

Ms Noem, 52, rose to national prominence with appearances on Fox News, especially when she floated mask mandates and other restrictions during the pandemic.

Her star was very much on the rise until the release of a memoir in 2024, in which she recounted the story of “hating” and then shooting her 14-month-old dog, because he wasn’t a good hunting companion. Cricket was “untrainable” and “dangerous,” she said.

She also shot a goat she thought was “nasty” and “mean”.

The story brought almost universal condemnation, and his shot at being VP may be all but dead.

Byron Donalds

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Byron Donalds, 45, has helped raise the profile of black conservatism.

Born in New York to a single mother, Mr Donalds worked in banking, insurance and finance before entering local politics in Florida in 2012.

After four years in the Florida House of Representatives, he has served since 2020 in the US House, representing the right-wing flank of his party in Washington.

Asked in November if he would accept the role of vice-president in a second Trump term, the congressman said: “I mean, who wouldn’t?”

Tulsi Gabbard

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As a Democrat she was the first Hindu member of the US . Now Tulsi Gabbard may be the biggest dark horse on Mr Trump’s shortlist.

A decade ago, the Iraq War veteran and US Army reservist served as vice-chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee – before resigning to endorse Bernie Sanders’s 2016 presidential campaign.

His time in Congress, from 2013 to 2021, was marked by frequent criticisms of the Obama administration and US military interventionism.

She ran in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, with her most notable moment being a fierce criticism of Kamala Harris – now the vice-president – over her past as a prosecutor in California.

Ms Gabbard, 42, then beefed up her contributions to Fox News and announced in 2022 that she was leaving the Democratic Party.

The Washington Post reported earlier this month that Mr Trump has spoken with Ms Gabbard – an outspoken critic of aid – about foreign policy and managing the Pentagon.

  • Vivek Ramaswamy: A biotech entrepreneur with no previous political experience, Vivek Ramaswamy impressed Trump fans during his 2024 presidential bid with his sure-footed rhetoric, bold policy agenda and youthful vigor. Mr Ramaswamy dropped out and pledged his full support to Mr Trump, but the former president has recently indicated he has been scratched from the list of potential running mates.
  • Ron DeSantis: After breaking to re-election as Florida governor in the 2022 midterm elections, Mr DeSantis was pegged as the conservative leader who could carry Mr Trump’s movement forward. But his lackluster presidential campaign crashed and burned in January, though a cheerless endorsement of his chief rival and a recent meeting between the two has since mended fences.
  • Nikki Haley: Several of Mr Trump’s allies have suggested that a presidential ticket that includes his former UN ambassador could help him win over the suburban female voters uncomfortable with voting for him. But Ms Haley’s resistance to her in the Republican primary and refusal to endorse Mr Trump when she dropped out has irked Mr Trump.
  • Katie Britt: The first-term senator from Alabama was widely mocked when she delivered the Republican response to President Joe Biden’s State of the speech this year, but her temperate policy positions and moderate demeanor could make her a powerful ally in the race.
  • Kari Lake: The former TV anchor tethered herself to Mr Trump’s unfounded claims of 2020 election fraud and ran unsuccessfully for Arizona governor in 2022, a defeat she still does not acknowledge. Ms Lake’s charisma has won her many admirers in the Trump camp but she is currently the Republican nominee in this year’s US Senate race in Arizona.
  • Sarah Huckabee Sanders: Serving as Mr Trump’s White House press secretary for two years boosted this second-generation politician to the governorship of Arkansas. Ms Sanders has not yet endeared herself to her former boss, with a belated endorsement of his re-election and a declaration that being governor is “one of the best jobs I could ever ask for… and I hope I get to do it for the next seven years.”
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