Potential VP pick joins Trump on flight to raucous Jersey Shore rally after he nixed another hopeful

Mr Trump tells one former rival to ‘get ready’ and another to get lost as he stokes speculation around vice president pick

John Bowden
Washington DC
Sunday 12 May 2024 22:23
Trump tells Jersey Shore crowd he's being forced to endure 'Biden show trial'

Donald Trump struck deep into blue territory on Saturday as he rallied in Wildwood, New Jersey alongside the latest Republican to be featured in his Survivor-esque search for a running mate: Doug Burgum.

The former president and the governor of North Dakota spoke to thousands of fans in a state that will almost inevitably be won by the incumbent Democratic president, Joe Biden, in the fall. New Jersey has not been won by a Republican at the presidential level since 1988.

At the Trump rally, Burgum lavished compliments on his former primary rival, and urged undecided voters to back the presumptive Republican nominee after an estimated 80,000 supporters had gathered on the beach in front of the Jersey Shore resort town’s ferris wheel.

“You can help them make that choice, for your undecided friends, it’s very simple: Donald Trump means strength, Joe Biden means weakness. Donald Trump means law and order, Joe Biden is lawfare. Donald Trump creates jobs, Joe Biden’s policies kill jobs,” said Gov. Burgum, who had flown to the event with Mr Trump.

“If you’ve got friends that like inflation, regulation, crime, wars, sham political trials and open borders, if you want more of that you can get four more years of Joe Biden.”

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum speaks at Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Wildwood, New Jersey on Saturday 11 May (Getty Images)

Mr Burgum is the latest mid- to high-profile Republican to be whispered about as a possible contender for being Donald Trump’s running mate.

His ascendancy in the field of possible choices for that position comes as Trump himself put an end to rumours that he was considering another Republican who, like Burgum, ran against him in 2024: Nikki Haley.

Ahead of the rally on Saturday, Mr Trump posted on his social media platform, Truth Social, to nix a report that Nikki Haley was among the contenders to be his 2024 running mate.

“Nikki Haley is not under consideration for the V.P. slot, but I wish her well!” he wrote.

Mr Burgum ended his own presidential run in December, before voting began weeks later. Mr Trump himself stoked speculation that Burgum would be his pick as he took the stage on Saturday.

“You won’t find anybody better than this gentleman in terms of his knowledge,” said the former president. To Burgum, he said: “Get ready for something, okay, just get ready.”

The former president’s rally in New Jersey comes as he is spending more time in neighbouring New York, where his criminal trial for allegedly falsifying business records to hide hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels continues this week.

In Wildwood on Saturday, the Trump rally was raucous, and at times turned nasty.

Mr Trump derided President Biden as a “total moron”, and at one point led the crowd in a chant of “s***!” in a callback to the words, “everything [Democrats] touch turns into...”

He also took aim at Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan District Attorney leading his criminal prosecution in New York, labeling him “Fat Alvin”.

Saturday’s event was by far the largest campaign rally the former president has hosted so far in the 2024 cycle, according to his campaign team.

A spokesperson for the city of Wildwood also told the Associated Press that she estimated between 80,000-100,000 attendees in total.

However, the Trump campaign has been known to exaggerate crowd size numbers in the past, and reporters on the scene questioned the figures.

Mr Trump’s ability to pull a large crowd in a blue state like New Jersey represents a warning shot across the bow of the Biden campaign.

Another guest at the Trump rally was New Jersey Democrat-turned-Republican congressman, Jeff Van Drew.

Mr Van Drew played up his exit from the Democratic Party to rallygoers, telling them that the party no longer represented the values it did in decades past.

“I know Democrats, let’s face it,” he said. “That Democratic Party does not represent the Democratic Party of our parents.”

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