Leaked audio reveals Trump discussing his VP picks

The former president surprisingly did not mention some major contenders, like Vivek Ramaswamy

Katie Hawkinson
Tuesday 07 May 2024 07:44 BST
Related video: Donald Trump dismisses RFK Jr as ‘not a serious candidate’ when asked if he would debate him

New audio recorded at a private lunch reveals Donald Trump’s thoughts about his potential picks for a running mate in the 2024 election.

The audio, obtained by Axios, was recorded during Mr Trump’s high-profile GOP event at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida on Saturday. Attendees included major Republican donors and his many contenders for vice president. Mr Trump’s top picks for a running mate include several senators, representatives, governors and former presidential candidates.

However, other expected contenders for Mr Trump’s running mate weren’t discussed at all, according to Axios. Entrepreneur and former 2024 presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy was not mentioned, according to the Axios report, despite attending the event.

Donald Trump with his potential vice presidential picks at his Mar-a-Lago on Saturday during a fundraiser for the Republican Party. Leaked audio reported by Axios reveals his thoughts on many of the contenders (Imaged provided by the Trump campaign )

Kristi Noem, governor of South Dakota, got a shout-out at the lunch, according to the leaked audio. This comes as no surprise, given she has long been a predicted running mate for the former president.

“Somebody that I love,” Mr Trump said of Ms Noem. “She’s been with me, a supporter of mine and I’ve been a supporter of hers for a long time.”

The governor is a long-time ally of Mr Trump. In an interview with CNN last month, Ms Noem refused to say whether she would have certified the 2020 election had she been in vice-president Mike Pence’s position.

“I wasn’t in Mike Pence’s shoes, and the information that he had at that time – I don’t know how he based his decisions,” she told CNN.

In 2021, several weeks after the January 6 Capitol riots, Ms Noem also refused to say whether President Joe Biden won the 2020 election freely and fairly. However, there is no evidence of widespread election fraud in 2020, and Mr Biden fairly won the election.

Kristi Noem says dog 'massacred' livestock before being put down

Ms Noem also made recent headlines after revealing in her book No Going Back that she shot her 14-month-old “working dog” Cricket because of his behaviour.

Mr Trump also commented on several representatives, including House Republican conference chair Elise Stefanik –a long-rumoured top pick for his vice-president.

“A very smart person,” he said of Ms Stefanik. “She was in upstate New York when I met her… little did we realise she would be such a big factor.”

Ms Stefanik voted against certifying the 2020 election results, spread false claims of election fraud, defended January 6 rioters and pushed for legislation that would expunge Mr Trump from the impeachments. However, Mr Trump has reportedly said behind closed doors that he doesn’t trust her.

Representative Elise Stefanik, pictured speaking at the US Capitol on 17 April 2024, is one of Donald Trump’s rumoured contenders for vice-president (AP)

Unsurprisingly, Senator Tim Scott’s name also came up on Saturday. Since dropping out of the 2024 race in November, Mr Scott has served as Mr Trump’s surrogate. A campaign surrogate is someone who campaigns for a candidate while relying on their high-profile status to garner support.

“As a candidate, he did a good job, but as a surrogate he’s unbelievable,” Mr Trump said of the South Carolina Republican. Meanwhile, Mr Trump did not go into great detail on other expected contenders.

Of Senator Marco Rubio, Mr Trump said, “His name is coming up a lot.” The former president also complimented Mike Lee, Republican senator of Utah, on his haircut, according to Axios.

Mr Trump also gave a shout-out to Marsha Blackburn, a Republican senator from Tennessee. She is facing a 2024 Democratic challenger from the House of Representatives: Gloria Johnson.

“[When she ran in 2018] she was like the Energizer Bunny,” Mr Trump said of Ms Blackburn. “She would go from stop to stop to stop.”

Mr Trump is expected to announce his running mate at the Republican National Convention, scheduled for 15 July to 18 July in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. There, delegates will vote on whether to make Mr Trump the Republican nominee for president. However, he holds the title unofficially, given all his opponents have dropped out of the primary race.

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