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CPAC poll reveals who Republicans want as Trump’s running mate

As this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference drew to a close on Saturday, a straw poll of attendees revealed who they would like to see join Donald Trump on the Republican Party presidential ticket.

The former president has yet to officially lock up the party’s nomination but is widely considered to be on the verge of doing so following this weekend’s win in the South Carolina primary, and very favourable polling ahead of Tuesday’s contest in Michigan.

CPAC acted as a showcase for potential vice presidents should Mr Trump win the presidential election in November, with major speeches given by almost all of the big names connected with the role.

However, it was biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem who came out tied as the top pick among CPAC attendees in the veepstakes both getting 15 per cent of those polled.

Former Hawaii Democrat Rep Tulsi Gabbard came in third with nine per cent, followed by Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina and House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik of New York, each with eight per cent.

Rep Byron Donalds of Florida scored seven per cent and Arizona Senate hopeful Kari Lake got six per cent.

Rounding out the poll were Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson each with five per cent.

Mr Ramaswamy, Ms Noem, Ms Gabbard, Ms Stefanik, Mr Donalds, Ms Lake, and Mr Carson all spoke at CPAC.

South Dakota’s Governor Kristi Noem speaks during the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) meeting on 23 February 2024, in National Harbor, Maryland (AFP via Getty Images)
South Dakota’s Governor Kristi Noem speaks during the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) meeting on 23 February 2024, in National Harbor, Maryland (AFP via Getty Images)

Mr DeSantis has publicly ruled out joining Mr Trump on the ticket.

The Independent’s Eric Garcia notes that being the former president’s running mate is an inherently dicey prospect.

For one, the last person who served in the job, the unflappable and pious Mike Pence, famously broke with Mr Trump for the efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, which resulted in Trump supporters threatening Pence’s life.

Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy holds up a sign reading “Nikki = corrupt” referring to former Governor from South Carolina and UN ambassador Nikki Haley (AFP via Getty Images)
Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy holds up a sign reading “Nikki = corrupt” referring to former Governor from South Carolina and UN ambassador Nikki Haley (AFP via Getty Images)

Also of consideration, Mr Trump will be 78 by the time Inauguration Day rolls around in 2025 and is capped at serving only four more years having already had one term in office.

If Mr Trump wins in November, whoever joins him on the ticket will essentially be his heir, with all the benefits and drawbacks that that entails. If Mr Trump loses in November, they will be the person to pick up the pieces of a wholly dysfunctional GOP.

Further, if the former president is convicted of a crime on the campaign trail or dies while in office, this person will become the standard bearer for the Republican Party.