Everything we know about Nancy Mace being tipped as Donald Trump’s new running mate

South Carolina congresswoman once critical of former president over Capitol riot has emerged as reliable defender of his name since federal indictment

Joe Sommerlad
Thursday 22 June 2023 18:32 BST
Related: Trump mocks Nancy Mace for video shot in front of Trump Tower

South Carolina congresswoman Nancy Mace, who once said that Donald Trump’s “entire legacy was wiped out” by the Capitol riot (prompting him to back her primary opponent Katie Arrington last year out of spite) improbably finds herself being touted as the former president’s next running mate after reinventing herself as his arch-defender.

The representative, 45, has made frequent television appearances going to bat for the Republican 2024 frontrunner since his federal indictment earlier this month on 37 criminal counts relating to the alleged illegal retention of classified documents following the conclusion of his one-term presidency.

“Every time the Oversight Committee has evidence of corruption, bribery, money-laundering on the Biden family they indict Donald Trump,” she declared during one typical recent outing on Fox Business’s Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo.

“And whether you agree with Donald Trump politically or not, most of America sees this for what it is: the weaponising of the executive branch to take out your political enemies and, look, Joe Biden wants to give Donald Trump a death sentence for documents.”

She went on to tease the prospect of an impeachment motion to come and dutifully trotted out the handling errors also committed by President Biden and former vice president Mike Pence, even invoking Hillary Clinton’s emails, a scandal so ancient it is believed to have been first recorded in the Book of Genesis.

When she defended Mr Trump on the night of his arraignment, again on Fox, clips of the exchange were busily shared and retweeted by Trump adviser Jason Miller and the MAGA War Room account on Twitter after which, according to Politico, a Trump assistant reached out to thank her for her support by text, to which she reportedly replied: “Of course. This is f***ed up.”

Trump advisor Chris LaCivita, who previously worked as Ms Mace’s campaign media consultant, told the same outlet of her recent conversion to the cause: “The fact that Nancy has been a constant and consistent presence in defence of President Trump has not gone unnoticed.”

Moving swiftly to downplay the Trumpworld speculation, a spokesman for the representative insisted this week that she “is entirely focused on delivering results for the people of South Carolina and looks forward to a Republican being in the White House after the 2024 election”.

While the past animosity between the two saw Mr Trump label her a “grandstanding loser” and a “RINO” (a common slur for his enemies standing for “Republican In Name Only”), their potential pairing on a presidential ticket is not so absurd as it might initially appear.

For his part, The Donald will be looking to present a fresh proposition this time around after definitively breaking with Mr Pence over the events of 6 January 2021, and Ms Pace, who made her name as the first woman to graduate from The Citadel military college’s corps of cadets program, might help to broaden his appeal to conservative suburban women in particular.

Donald Trump (Fox News)

The rewards for someone of her ambitions are obvious, her profile raised immeasurably on the national stage whatever the outcome, win or lose.

Politically, the duo may also have found unlikely common ground on abortion, a subject on which Ms Mace stands at odds with the wider Republican Party.

The congresswoman has called for easier access to birth control, backed legal abortions up to 15-20 weeks into a pregnancy and attacked Florida governor Ron DeSantis for lacking “compassion” on the issue, whereas Mr Trump has sought to walk a much more moderate line since loading the Supreme Court benches with the hardline justices who struck down Roe v Wade a year ago, saying the law should be left up to states and labelling new measures introduced by Mr DeSantis in Florida as “too harsh”.

The pair also have long-standing ties, Ms Mace herself having worked as a multi-state field director on Mr Trump’s victorious 2016 campaign and seen both Mr LaCivita and campaign manager Austin McCubbin graduate from her staff to Team Trump.

Nancy Mace (AP)

Some of Ms Mace’s more idiosyncratic policy positions might prove problematic to conservatives, however, such as her support for marriage equality and the legalisation of marijuana or the fact that she voted to hold ex-Trump chief of strategy Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena calling upon him to testify before the House Select Committee investigating January 6.

Further complicating the picture are her ties to two other GOP presidential contenders, Nikki Haley and Tim Scott, both of whom have supported her in the past and will be seeking her endorsement in return.

But she is nothing if not pragmatic, as demonstrated by her modifying her position on January 6 by saying that she herself has been a victim of political violence – someone keyed the words “F*** you” into the side of her Chevy Tahoe in 2020 – and can therefore “empathise” with “both sides”, a distinctly Trumpian turn of phrase unavoidably recalling his notorious equivocating over Charlottesville in 2017.

This week, her willingness to keep her options open was also in evidence when she deftly sidestepped a question put to her by CNN’s Poppy Harlow about whether she would continue to support Mr Trump if he were ultimately to be convicted over the documents affair.

“That’s a loaded question this early in the morning… I haven’t had my coffee yet today,” Ms Mace joked, refusing to be drawn on the matter until she was finally pushed into adding: “That’s not a reality yet! That’s not a reality today. And I’m not willing to entertain it today. But thank you.”

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