“I believe President Trump will have a female vice-president,” said Donald Trump’s former strategist Steve Bannon in a recent interview. He was echoing the thoughts of many of those close to the probable 2024 Republican nominee. Mr. Trump himself has said that he likes “the concept” of choosing a female VP. Happily for him, there is no shortage of Republican women auditioning for the role of best supporting actress. The second season of The Golden Bachelor is coming sooner than anticipated.
Kari Lake, the former TV newscaster turned politician, won the Conservative Political Action Committee’s straw poll for the VP slot last spring. Lake demurred at the time, as she was in the midst of a legal challenge against her defeat in the 2022 Arizona gubernatorial race. After several failed lawsuits, however, she spent a conspicuous amount of time at Trump’s Florida club. According to several reports, Lake took up temporary residence at Mar-a-Lago and was seen “schmoozing” guests. Then, during a family vacation to the Bahamas, she was photographed wrapped in a Trump-themed inflatable. The dirty secret, though, is that as much as Trump loves loyalty, he doesn’t respect an ass-kisser. Trump advisors whispered to the media that the former president was turned off by her “shameless” behavior and “sees through her gambit.” Ouch.
Next there’s South Dakota governor Kristi Noem, who endorsed Trump in September and is campaigning for him in Iowa (in lieu of the state’s governor, Kim Reynolds, who is backing Ron DeSantis). Her ambitions bigger than ever, Noem told reporters this week that she would consider being Trump’s veep if he were to win the nomination. Noem’s state was one of the first to buck Covid lockdowns, but some conservatives still feel the sting from when she vetoed legislation that would have banned biological men from competing in women’s sports. Noem also has personal baggage. Reporters allege that she had a “years-long affair” with Trump’s political advisor Corey Lewandowski, which she has not denied. She has since cut ties with Lewandowski after another woman accused him of sexual misconduct.
Elise Stefanik, who was elevated to the GOP leadership after the party booted “NeverTrump” Liz Cheney from the role, would be a less controversial choice. Stefanik endorsed Trump before he even announced his run for a second term in November 2022, making her the first member of Congress to do so, and she spent last Sunday testing out pro-Trump talking points on NBC News. Stefanik may be a little boring for hardcore Trumpism, but she passes the key loyalty tests. She declined to commit to certifying the 2020 election results and has called some of the Trump supporters jailed after January 6, 2021 “hostages.” She’s also asserted she’d be “honored to serve in the next Trump administration.”
The underrated pick is Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who served as White House press secretary under Trump, taking on a nasty and biased press corps. She has leveraged her experience in the White House to become the first female governor of Arkansas. Shortly after taking office, she was tasked with delivering the Republican response to President Biden’s State of the Union and has signed a series of executive orders attacking critical race theory and gender-neutral language. But Sanders may be unwilling to leave the governorship for Trump halfway through her first term.
Just a couple of weeks ago, Nikki Haley’s name was suddenly elevated as a likely veep pick. Haley, currently in second place to Trump in the presidential nomination stakes, has managed to court establishment Republican mega donors away from DeSantis’s tumbling campaign. She’s pugnacious and had a good relationship with Trump when she served as his ambassador to the UN, but her rise has naturally attracted his ire, and his Political Action Committee is aggressively running attack adverts to blunt her momentum. Trump himself has deemed her a “globalist” — the death knell for anyone hoping to win over the MAGA base — and Donald Jr. has said he’d go to “great lengths” to prevent her from being his father’s running mate. It seems there will be no rose for her.