Trump Endorsement Has Political World Buzzing

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As the 2024 presidential campaign gains momentum, former President Donald Trump’s search for a running mate resembles his old reality TV show, “The Apprentice,” where contestants hoped to hear, “You’re hired!” But unlike the scripted television show, controversy, election denialism, and dramatic memoirs marred this vice-presidential selection process.

Over the May 3-5 weekend, Trump assembled potential vice-presidential candidates at his Mar-a-Lago estate. He called them on stage during a high-dollar fundraiser for his campaign and the Republican National Committee. Notable names included North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, and Florida Senator Marco Rubio, all vying for a chance to join Trump’s ticket.

A Strange Start to the Search
South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem has stirred controversy due to a grisly story in her forthcoming memoir. Noem recounts how she shot her unruly dog and a billy goat she described as “nasty and mean.” The memoir, No Going Back, was intended to raise her profile as a loyal Trump supporter. Instead, Noem has spent much of the week defending her actions. “Tough decisions like this happen all the time on a farm,” she explained on CBS Mornings, addressing bipartisan backlash. In another interview, Noem emphasized, “The American people want somebody who’s real and doesn’t pretend to be something they’re not. I’ve never once said that I’m perfect.”

Noem’s memoir also includes criticism of other Republicans. In one instance, she claimed to have been “threatened” politically by Nikki Haley, former South Carolina governor and GOP presidential candidate. However, Haley’s spokesperson denied this account.

Reports suggest that Noem may no longer be on Trump’s shortlist, though she remains popular in South Dakota.

Election Denialism and Campaign Trail Drama
Several potential running mates echoed Trump’s election denialism in interviews following the fundraiser. On CNN’s State of the Union, Doug Burgum implied that mainstream media outlets, including CNN, had disputed the 2016 election, though CNN did not. Meanwhile, Tim Scott repeatedly refused to commit to accepting the results of the 2024 election during NBC’s Meet the Press. This skepticism marked a stark shift for Scott, who had not previously questioned the 2020 election outcome.

Marco Rubio faced questions regarding a quirk in the 12th Amendment, which prohibits presidential electors from voting for both a president and vice president from their state. Rubio, a Florida Senator, did not deny the possibility of leaving his home state to satisfy this rule.

The Unlikely Transformation of J.D. Vance
Another name high on Trump’s shortlist is Ohio Senator J.D. Vance. The political novice once called Trump “loathsome” and even likened him to “America’s Hitler.” However, his friendship with Donald Trump Jr. helped secure an endorsement from the former president during Vance’s Senate primary race in Ohio. Now, Vance is considered a staunch Trump ally.

During an interview with CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, Vance expressed skepticism over the danger former Vice President Mike Pence faced during the January 6th Capitol riot. “I’m extremely skeptical that Mike Pence’s life was ever in danger,” he said. Vance’s rapid ascent to Trump’s shortlist is partly attributed to his close friendship with Trump Jr. They talk or text almost daily and support each other’s social media messages. “Enough with the lies being told about this guy,” Trump Jr. tweeted before his father endorsed Vance.

Loyalty Over All Else
Trump’s criteria for a running mate revolve around unwavering loyalty. “I’m looking for somebody who can be a good president in case of emergency,” Trump told a group of allies. Yet, his history with Mike Pence, who had to flee the Capitol during the January 6th insurrection, suggests loyalty may come with significant personal risk.

According to one of Trump’s confidantes, loyalty and the ability to raise money and defend himself effectively are the main qualities Trump seeks. However, the former president also said that vice-presidential selections have historically “never really helped in the election process.”

The Ultimate Decision
With a list that includes Burgum, Scott, Rubio, Vance, and House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, Trump seems to be enjoying the “veepstakes” as a distraction from his ongoing legal battles in New York. Ultimately, his decision is expected to come closer to the Republican National Convention in July.

Whoever Trump chooses, they will be expected to stand firmly behind his campaign’s platform and align closely with his views on election integrity. Whether the process resembles “The Apprentice” or not, one thing is clear: loyalty will be paramount.

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