Former president Donald Trump may not have announced that he’ll try and regain the office voters evicted him from in 2020, but top Republicans are already vying to be cast as his vice president in a potential 2024 reboot of the Trump show.
According to a report in Politico, Mr Trump is using the steady stream of pilgrimages GOP officeholders are making to his Mar-a-Lago beach club as a sort of running audition for the job once held by Mike Pence.
“They’re all begging me. They all come here,” he reportedly said to one adviser.
When Mr Trump first ran for president in 2016, his choice of Mr Pence was one largely driven by the need to reassure evangelical Christians that the former host of The Apprentice — a twice-divorced, non-churchgoing, notorious womaniser with a history of donating to Democratic campaigns — was on their side. But Politico reports that such considerations are a thing of the past now that Mr Trump has consolidated support from an overwhelming majority of GOP voters.
Mr Trump is reportedly fixated on choosing a running mate who will choose loyalty to him over any legal or constitutional considerations, as he continues to maintain that Mr Pence should have taken extraconstitutional actions to prevent Congress from certifying President Joe Biden’s electoral college victory on 6 January.
Former Trump campaign and HHS official Michael Caputo told Politico that Mr Trump’s pick will come down to personal loyalty and adherence to Mr Trump’s claims about the 2020 election.
“They’ll have to denounce what happened in 2020,” he said. “If they don’t, they’re disqualified.”
Without the need to account for ideological balance in a potential 2024 ticket, Mr Trump is reportedly open to the possibility of choosing a non-white, non-male running mate such as South Carolina senator Tim Scott or Florida lieutenant governor Jeanette Nunez, though the latter choice would require Mr Trump to move his legal place of residence from Florida because the US constitution does not permit a president and vice president to hail from the same state.
Mr Scott — who has been making pilgrimages to early primary states such as Iowa and New Hampshire — has also spent time with Mr Trump recently. But longtime Trump confidante Roger Stone says the feints at a presidential run by Mr Scott and others are actually part of a vice presidential mating dance.
“This is an audition. And Trump is paying attention,” Mr Stone said. “There’s no question that people running for president are really running for vice president all the time. The key is to make it look like you’re not running for vice president.”
Others who are reportedly on his mind for a potential 2024 pick include ex-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, former acting director of national intelligence Ric Grenell, and ex-secretary of state Mike Pompeo.
One Trump adviser told Politico that Mr Grenell, a former ambassador to Germany who Mr Trump tapped as acting DNI after ousting the previous acting officeholder for delivering a legally-mandated election security briefing to the House intelligence committee, has risen in the twice-impeached ex-president’s estimation because he is not seen as a potential presidential rival.
Messrs Meadows, Grenell, and Pompeo are also frequent television commentators who use their myriad appearances as platforms to bash Mr Biden and talk up Mr Trump by promoting outright lies about the election he lost just over a year ago.
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