Donald Trump names his top pick for president ... in 2028

Trump endorses New York congresswoman who replaced Liz Cheney in leadership

John Bowden
Wednesday 12 January 2022 16:53 GMT
Rep Elise Stefanik
Rep Elise Stefanik (Getty Images)
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Donald Trump is continuing to lean in to his role at kingmaker in the Republican Party, suggesting that a younger member of the GOP leadership team in the House could be a viable presidential contender in 2028.

Mr Trump on Tuesday gave his endorsement to Representative Elise Stefanik, a conservative congresswoman whose continued embrace of the former president led to her replacing Representative Liz Cheney as the chair of the House Republican conference last year.

The move was a major shakeup of GOP leadership in the lower chamber that resulted from Ms Cheney’s public rebuke of Mr Trump and his allies for the attack on the US Capitol on 6 January.

In the months since the attack, Ms Cheney has been one of a slim minority of elected Republicans to continue to spurn Mr Trump, and is one of just two GOP members currently serving on the select committee investigating the siege.

At a Tuesday night fundraiser hosted at Mar-a-Lago, the former president heaped praise on Ms Stefanik in comments first reported by The New York Post.

“I want to congratulate Elise on her success. Man is she moving fast,” Mr Trump said. “That means at this rate she’ll be President in about six years.”

“She’s always been a friend and people would say she’s upwardly mobile. She goes to Washington as a young beautiful woman who took over and all of a sudden she becomes a rocket ship, she’s the boss. She’s been a great boss, a strong boss,” he reportedly continued.

Ms Stefanik, 37, is the youngest member of the Republican leadership team in the House by nearly two decades. She is eligible to run for president in 2024, but Mr Trump himself remains the wide favourite to win the GOP nomination in the next cycle with most polls showing him as the likely choice for around half or more of GOP voters.

The former president has teased a run since nearly the day he left office in 2021, and resumed his campaign-style rallies across the country less than a year after departing the White House. He has hinted that he will announce a decision on whether to run publicly after the 2022 midterm elections conclude.

Ms Stefanik has been sharply criticised by members of the GOP who are not among Mr Trump’s loyalist faction, such as former congresswoman Barbara Comstock of Virginia.

“To be a handmaiden of Trump and get a little pat on the head from Trump is not a leadership move,” the ex-congresswoman said of Ms Stefanik last year, adding: “It’s embarrassing. It’s sad.”

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