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Trump's 2024 Veepstakes Have Begun: A Look at His Top Choices for Running Mate

Several names have been floated as potential VP picks, but Donald Trump's official shortlist remains unclear. Here are the most likely politicians he's considering as he ponders his dream ticket

<p>Mario Tama/Getty </p> Former President Donald Trump attends a Republican event in Nevada on July 8, 2023

Mario Tama/Getty

Former President Donald Trump attends a Republican event in Nevada on July 8, 2023

Donald Trump's 2024 veepstakes are well underway, with the GOP front-runner looking ahead to November even before earning his party's presidential nomination.

Though Trump said in January that he already knows who he wants for vice president, nothing is set in stone yet — and right now his strongest allies are being tested for the role as they campaign for him in important primary states.

If Trump becomes the Republican nominee, his running mate could play a pivotal role in bringing key demographics to his corner: Race, gender, geography and loyalty will likely influence his final decision. Plus: "It's got to be who would [be] able to be a good president," Trump told Fox News' Maria Bartiromo. "I mean, you always have to think that because you know, a civil emergency … things happen right? No matter who you are, things happen."

Here are 12 standout Republicans (and one independent) who could make Trump's shortlist for vice president — and the pros and cons for each.

Kristi Noem

Susan Walsh/AP/Shutterstock Donald Trump with South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem
Susan Walsh/AP/Shutterstock Donald Trump with South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem

The Congress to governor to vice president pipeline is well-established, and Kristi Noem fits the bill. The first female South Dakota governor — who became a controversial far-right figure in recent years — was rumored to be mulling her own presidential bid last year, but ultimately endorsed Trump instead. As veteran Republican strategist Dave Carney told Politico, Noem has "played her cards right" in earning Trump's respect: "She’s articulate. She has a lot of energy, and she might make an attractive ticket for the president."

Pros: Loyalty, the female vote, and a willingness to mimic Trump's rhetoric. Unlike the more muted Mike Pence, she would cast herself in the shadow of the former president.

Cons: South Dakota isn't where Trump needs a boost, and Noem has faced considerable controversy in recent years — including rumors that she had an affair with Trump's former 2016 campaign manager.

What Noem has said: Noem has been clear that she is open to working for Trump, telling Newsmax in 2023 that if she were asked to be his VP, she would "absolutely" consider the offer: "I would in a heartbeat."

What Trump has said: Trump, in turn, has made clear he’s a fan of Noem, soliciting her to appear at various fundraisers and campaign rallies and saying she's "a warrior for American values." While discussing the status of his VP search on Fox News' Sunday Morning Futures in February, he name-dropped Noem as a great ally to his campaign, and later said she was on his list.

Tim Scott

Evan Vucci/AP/Shutterstock Then-President Donald Trump meets with Sen. Tim Scott in May 2020
Evan Vucci/AP/Shutterstock Then-President Donald Trump meets with Sen. Tim Scott in May 2020

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott was appointed to Congress in 2013 (by then-Gov. Nikki Haley) and remains the lone Black Republican in the Senate. He launched his own presidential bid last year, though he failed to garner enthusiasm for his platform and dropped out of the race in mid-November. In January, he reemerged to endorse Trump over Haley (and got engaged right afterward), which furthered speculation that he could be positioning himself for a place on the ticket.

Pros: Scott's mellow temperament and traditional conservative values could tame fears about Trump's erratic decision-making — and Republicans could benefit from having a person of color on the ticket.

Cons: Scott is a firmly anti-choice senator whose desire for an unpopular federal abortion ban could scare off large swaths of voters — in fact, some of his harshest criticism of Trump was that the president wasn't strict enough on abortion.

What Scott has said: The senator told Fox News in November that he had no intention of accepting a VP nomination: “Being vice president has never been on my to-do list for this campaign, and it’s certainly not there now.” But after getting chummy with Trump, he's un-ruled it out, telling CNN's Dana Bash in January that he will do "whatever" is necessary to better the country.

What Trump has said: Trump and Scott have done joint appearances on the campaign trail, cracking jokes as Trump praises him for being a "very, very good man" whose endorsement is "very important." Trump's unusually warm embrace of Scott implies that he'll be seriously considered for the role — and he about said as much on Fox News in February, mentioning the senator while discussing his VP criteria.

Elise Stefanik

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, chair of the House Republican Conference
Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, chair of the House Republican Conference

New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, the fourth-ranking member in House GOP leadership, was the youngest woman elected to Congress when she overwhelmingly won her first race in 2014. Despite calling Trump's treatment of women "offensive" and "just plain wrong" during his 2016 campaign, she threw her full support behind him during his impeachment trials and reelection bid. Now 39, she's an up-and-coming face in the Republican Party, and has proven one of Trump's most loyal defenders.

Pros: As chair of the House Republican Conference, Stefanik has influence in the GOP and can articulate the party's platform — and she could be the youthful antidote to voters' concerns about Trump's age.

Cons: Trump doesn't need New York, and the House GOP needs Stefanik.

What Stefanik has said: “I, of course, would be honored to serve in any capacity in a Trump administration,” Stefanik said in a January Meet the Press interview. She later told NBC News that she's "not going to get into any of my conversations with President Trump" but that she's "honored to call him a friend."

What Trump has said: When Stefanik was floated as a possible running mate during a private Mar-a-Lago dinner in December, Trump responded approvingly, saying, "She's a killer," according to NBC News.

Tulsi Gabbard

Bill Pugliano/Getty Then-Rep. Tulsi Gabbard during her 2020 Democratic presidential campaign
Bill Pugliano/Getty Then-Rep. Tulsi Gabbard during her 2020 Democratic presidential campaign

Former Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard — who left the Democratic Party in 2022 after running for president two years prior — has always been hard to define politically, but in the past few years the independent's views have veered toward the right wing as she endorsed a slew of far-right extremists in the midterms, became a frequent contributor on Fox News and embraced the Ron DeSantis-era culture wars. In February Trump met with Gabbard to discuss foreign policy and soon after said that she was on his mind as he decides on a running mate.

Pros: Gabbard is a woman of color best remembered as a Democratic presidential candidate. Choosing her could give the impression that Trump is reaching across the aisle and embracing new voices, plus she’s proven willing to adopt his political views.

Cons: Gabbard doesn’t bring an Electoral College advantage, and it’s untested whether she would be embraced by either major party as someone who's flip-flopped.

What Gabbard has said: Gabbard told Fox & Friends in February that her “mission in life is to serve our country,” saying that if Trump wanted her as his running mate, “I’d be open to that conversation.”

What Trump has said: When asked during a Fox News town hall in February if Gabbard is on his VP shortlist, he answered affirmatively — though he hasn’t specifically named her without being prompted.

J.D. Vance

Drew Angerer/Getty Then-Senate candidate J.D. Vance shakes hands with Donald Trump at a rally hosted by the former president in 2022
Drew Angerer/Getty Then-Senate candidate J.D. Vance shakes hands with Donald Trump at a rally hosted by the former president in 2022

Freshman Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance — who once described himself as a "never-Trump guy" and called the former president an "idiot" with "immoral to absurd" policies — flipped a 180 to become a staunch mouthpiece for Trump's values while running for Senate in 2022. Best-known as the author of Hillbilly Elegy, the former venture capitalist now says he's "very close" with Trump and that they "talk all the time" while he serves as a surrogate on the former president's 2024 campaign.

Pros: Vance's shallow voting history minimizes his legislative baggage, his Trumpian ideology would present a united front, and Ohio is an important state for Trump to lock down again in 2024.

Cons: Vance's newness to politics and weak fundraising abilities mean he has little to offer Trump on a practical level — and leaving the Senate would give Democrats another shot at flipping his swing seat blue in 2025.

What Vance has said: Vance has suggested that Trump needs him as an ally in Congress. "I think that’s the best place for me is to actually be an advocate of the agenda in the United States Senate," he said in January while campaigning for Trump in New Hampshire. "But certainly if the president asked, I would have to think about [it]. I want to help him out however I can."

What Trump has said: The former president hasn't said much about Vance since stumping for him on the Senate campaign trail, and even then, the dynamic seemed tense at times. “He’s a guy that said some bad s--- about me. He did,” Trump told the crowd at a pro-Vance rally in 2022. “But I have to do what I have to do. We have to pick somebody that can win.”

Sarah Huckabee Sanders

Donald Trump claps toward his White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders
Donald Trump claps toward his White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders

Sarah Huckabee Sanders served as Trump's White House press secretary from 2017 to 2019. In 2022, she was elected the first female governor of Arkansas, following in the footsteps of her former governor father, Mike Huckabee. While many of Trump's White House staffers turned on him after he left office, Sanders has stood behind Trump, leaving the door open for a future partnership.

Pros: Sanders already has a close relationship with Trump and could help him secure the female vote (exit polls from recent primaries have revealed that men like Trump more than women).

Cons: Voters associate Sanders, another staunchly pro-life politician, with the chaos of Trump's administration — and even in her home state, her favorability rating is lagging.

What Sanders has said: Sanders has claimed to have a "great relationship" with the former president, but has demurred when asked about being his running mate, telling CBS News’ Face the Nation this month, “Look, I absolutely love the job I have. I think it’s one of the best jobs I could ever ask for, and I am honored to serve as governor, and I hope I get to do it for the next seven years.”

What Trump has said: Trump endorsed Sanders’ gubernatorial bid back in 2021, but beyond that, he has not publicly said anything about her as a potential running mate.

Doug Burgum

<p>Mike McCleary/The Bismarck Tribune via AP</p> North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum

Mike McCleary/The Bismarck Tribune via AP

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, a wealthy software executive turned Republican politician, tried mounting a challenge to Trump in the GOP primaries, ultimately falling out of the race in December when he failed to qualify for a debate. Despite holding executive office Burgum’s national profile remains low, but after he endorsed Trump ahead of the Iowa caucuses — then announced he would not run for reelection as governor — he by default joined the list of possible running mates.

Pros: He is a fellow political outsider with MAGA-friendly views, but isn’t as outspoken or controversial as comparable conservative governors.

Cons: He would bring neither diversity nor influence on the Electoral College to the ticket.

What Burgum has said: Speaking to reporters about his next career move in January, Burgum said, "I think impact is going to be what drives the decisions I make in the future. Wherever that path may be, it's going to be where I can have the biggest impact.” Asked about whether he’d accept a VP or Cabinet role, he called the suggestion “hypothetical at this time.”

What Trump has said: Trump has been complimentary of Burgum since receiving an endorsement, suggesting that the governor will have a seat in his administration. “I hope that I’m going to be able to call on him to be a piece of the administration — a very important piece of the administration,” Trump said in January.

Kari Lake

<p>Mario Tama/Getty</p> Former President Donald Trump with then-Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake in October 2022

Mario Tama/Getty

Former President Donald Trump with then-Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake in October 2022

Kari Lake, a former TV journalist who took a hard-right turn when she waded into politics, narrowly lost her bid for Arizona governor in 2022 after running a controversial campaign centered around culture wars and false claims that her election was being rigged. Now running for Kyrsten Sinema's Senate seat, she has her hands full — but her dedication to Trump could be reason enough to change plans. In late 2022, a source close to Trump told PEOPLE that "she is working the deal" to become his running mate; months later, a political source claimed she "practically lives" in a suite at Mar-a-Lago.

Pros: Arizona — which Trump lost by 0.4% in 2020 — is one of the last-remaining swing states. Lake's gender and geography could prove helpful.

Cons: Those who aren't sold on Trump are unlikely to find comfort in an inexperienced running mate who is equally invested in stoking division and denying election results.

What Lake has said: Masterfully dodging recent questions about being Trump's running mate, Lake has kept her focus on convincing Arizonans that she's more interested in Congress than the Cabinet. "I see myself on Inauguration Day standing on the floor of the United States Senate," she told Newsmax, while campaigning for Trump in New Hampshire.

What Trump has said: “She’s terrific,” Trump told supporters during a campaign event in January. “She’ll be a senator — a great senator, I predict, right? You’re going to be a great senator.”

Ron DeSantis

<p>Doug Mills/New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images</p> Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during an Oval Office meeting with then-President Donald Trump in April 2020

Doug Mills/New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during an Oval Office meeting with then-President Donald Trump in April 2020

Ron DeSantis' sudden withdrawal from the race before the New Hampshire primary — and his immediate endorsement of onetime rival Trump — have sparked unexpected murmurs in Trump World that the Florida governor could be shortlisted for VP. “There was some inner circle buzz about DeSantis teaming up with Trump, but in more ways it is not a good idea due to geography and ego,” a Trump source tells PEOPLE. “I don’t see it happening, but I do see DeSantis maybe playing a role in a Trump administration.”

Pros: Far-right voters would be thrilled by the partnership, and potentially ready to riot again if Trump loses in November.

Cons: The vast majority of U.S. voters aren't looking for two controversial White men from Florida. More importantly, a provision in the Constitution suggests that if running mates hail from the same state, that state's electors cannot support the ticket (i.e., With DeSantis, Trump would forfeit Florida's 30 Electoral College votes).

What DeSantis has said: In suspending his campaign in January, DeSantis simultaneously endorsed Trump. "It’s clear to me that a majority of Republican primary voters want to give Donald Trump another chance," he said at the time. "While I have had disagreements with Donald Trump ... [he] is superior to the current incumbent, Joe Biden. That is clear." As for the role of VP, though, DeSantis seems unconvinced: "I don’t think it’s a position that offers much,” he said earlier that month.

What Trump has said: Despite repeatedly belittling DeSantis on the campaign trial, Trump changed his tune following the endorsement, saying he was "very honored" and had "officially retired" the nickname Ron DeSanctimonious. In February, he told Fox News' Laura Ingraham that DeSantis was on his shortlist.

Vivek Ramaswamy

<p>Drew Angerer/Getty </p> Former Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy speaks at the Faith and Freedom Road to Majority conference on June 23, 2023

Drew Angerer/Getty

Former Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy speaks at the Faith and Freedom Road to Majority conference on June 23, 2023

Former presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, who suspended his 2024 campaign after placing fourth in the Iowa caucuses, repeatedly defended Trump even while they were opponents. A late-30s biotech entrepreneur with an estimated net worth pushing $1 billion, Ramaswamy built an extremist brand around his “anti-woke” business practices and assertion that diversity, equity and inclusion efforts divide Americans. Now that he’s out of the race, he’s more formally teamed up with Trump to fight for a far-right victory in November.

Pros: His Indian heritage, Ohio residency and youthfulness could all prove helpful for a winning ticket.

Cons: His eagerness to push the boundaries of extremism, and lack of political experience, could prove a liability.

What Ramaswamy has said: After suspending his presidential campaign, Ramaswamy told ABC News that on the subject of vying for veep, he “would evaluate whatever is best for the future of this country."

What Trump has said: When a crowd chanted “VP!” as Ramaswamy stumped for Trump in New Hampshire, the former president played along, telling his supporters Ramaswamy was “going to be working with us for a long time.” He later confirmed that Ramaswamy was among the names being considered.

Marjorie Taylor Greene

Dustin Chambers/Getty Marjorie Taylor Greene simultaneously campaigns for herself and Trump in 2020
Dustin Chambers/Getty Marjorie Taylor Greene simultaneously campaigns for herself and Trump in 2020

Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene — whose disruptive behavior and shameless conspiracy theories quickly elevated her platform in Congress — has been a close ally to Trump in the U.S. House. And when she’s not displaying nude photos of Hunter Biden during congressional hearings, stoking anti-LGBTQ culture wars, or fighting with rival far-right firebrand Lauren Boebert, she’s reportedly angling for a higher role in a possible Trump administration. As former Trump strategist Steve Bannon said of her ambitions, “when MTG looks in the mirror she sees a potential president smiling back.”

Pros: She will do anything for Trump, and she hails from a swing state Trump lost in 2020.

Cons: Greene is not taken seriously by a majority of the nation, and her penchant for misinformation would not go over well in a national election. Plus, she’d steal the spotlight.

What Greene has said: Greene has repeatedly suggested since 2022 that she’s on Trump’s shortlist for VP and that it’s “talked about frequently.” She has noted that it’s something she’s “definitely interested in” but would “have to think about.”

What Trump has said: Trump has reportedly said Greene would be “great” in a senior position in his administration — apparently even considering her for a Justice Department role despite her lack of legal background, according to Rolling Stone. Wherever she may land, Trump has at least flirted with the idea of her as VP, and it’s clear he’s a fan: “People do not realize how brilliant she is,” the former president said last year. “She is just a badass.”

Tucker Carlson

Richard Drew/AP/Shutterstock Former Fox News host Tucker Carlson
Richard Drew/AP/Shutterstock Former Fox News host Tucker Carlson

Longtime Fox News personality Tucker Carlson has privately criticized Trump before, even as he publicly courted the former president on the air (court filings in a high-profile lawsuit alleged that he once texted a Fox News colleague, "I hate him passionately,” referring to Trump). But in recent months, Carlson has seemingly been in Trump's good graces, even bringing the former president on his new digital show. Donald Trump Jr. told Newsmax in January that Carlson is “on the table” as a potential running mate, adding that he would “certainly be a contender.”

Pros: Carlson’s television and streaming shows have parroted the same far-right conspiracy theories as Trump himself, suggesting the host would make a loyal running mate — and a more vocal one than Mike Pence.

Cons: Carlson has no political experience, and is a controversial figure unlikely to resonate with the nation at large.

What Carlson has said: During a question-and-answer session at the 2023 Turning Point USA conference, Carlson said, “It’s just impossible to imagine myself getting involved in something like that,” when asked about running for office.

What Trump has said: Trump said, “I guess I would” when asked whether he’d consider Carlson for the role of his running mate back in November, adding that the host has “great common sense.”

Ben Carson

Andrew Harnik/AP/REX/Shutterstock Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson
Andrew Harnik/AP/REX/Shutterstock Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson

Ben Carson, a former neurosurgeon who ran for president in 2016, has already worked with Trump as his secretary of housing and urban development. He was one of Trump's few Cabinet secretaries to retain their position throughout the entire term, and has since voiced his support for Trump’s 2024 campaign without offering any public criticism.

Pros: Carson, who was the only Black member of Trump's cabinet, has experience working with the former president and could be seen as a more moderating force than some of the other far-right names on the list.

Cons: Carson, who is also in his 70s, doesn’t have the name recognition nor the fan base of some of the other names on the list.

What Carson has said: During Trump’s first run, Carson made clear that he would be willing to serve as vice president, saying in 2016 (prior to Trump picking Pence as his running mate), “I’ve told Mr. Trump that if it was really going to make a big difference I’d be willing to.”

What Trump has said: Trump hasn’t publicly spoken about Carson as a VP pick, though Carson himself said in a recent interview on Fox News' Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo: "I don’t want to talk about what we’ve talked about, but we’ve talked about what can we do to save this country and that we will work together to make sure that America remains America.”

Who Trump Has Seemingly Ruled Out for VP

<p>Joe Raedle/Getty, John Lamparski/Getty</p> Nikki Haley and Mike Pence

Joe Raedle/Getty, John Lamparski/Getty

Nikki Haley and Mike Pence

If Trump becomes the GOP nominee, there are at least two people he doesn't want by his side: Nikki Haley, his biggest competitor in the Republican primary, and Mike Pence, his two-time running mate turned political foe.

Though Haley could be a strategic pick — she's an experienced female politician from South Carolina who could keep moderates from flocking to Biden — Trump has been too focused on dismantling her campaign to entertain the idea of joining forces. "She's not presidential timber," he told New Hampshire voters in January. "Now when I say that, that probably means that she's not going to be chosen as the vice president." And the feeling seems mutual, with Haley declaring around the same time, "I don't want to be anybody's vice president. That is off the table."

As for a third Trump-Pence ticket, there is virtually no chance. The two had a falling out at the end of their term in office, when Pence refused Trump's orders to stop the certification of the 2020 election results. "Mike and I had a great relationship except for the very important factor that took place at the end," Trump recalled in 2022. "I don’t think the people would accept [him as my 2024 running mate]."

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