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The Race for Running Mate

The Race for Running Mate


I’ve covered Donald Trump’s three presidential campaigns and his four years in the White House.

Discipline, experience and risk aversion are not traits typically associated with Donald Trump’s political brand. But his search for those values in a running mate has helped him narrow the field, for now, to a top tier of contenders, people in his orbit tell me.

Trump has an unusual amount of freedom with this choice. He believes voters will cast their ballots based on the top of the ticket, so he needn’t pick someone from a battleground state to help win it. People already know him, so he doesn’t need someone to woo a particular constituency, as Mike Pence did with evangelicals in 2016. But he worries that a running mate can create unwanted distractions. As a result, Trump has tightened his V.P. list to dependable and loyal campaigners.

Still, the search hasn’t escaped his freewheeling style. Advisers say he keeps injecting new contenders into the mix and pressuring his campaign for an announcement during the Republican Party’s convention next month. He wants a good show, preceded by lots of buzz. To generate it, his team has requested personal information and other vetting documents from a far broader list of Republicans than the few candidates he has shown the most interest in.

Doug Burgum. The former president collects wealthy white businessmen as if they were porcelain dolls — and the North Dakota governor has amassed a fortune from building billion-dollar companies. Burgum is well versed in energy policy, which Trump has said is a Day 1 priority, and he could help persuade pro-business stalwarts frustrated by both Trump and President Biden. He’s already having an effect: Tom Siebel, a billionaire tech investor who loves Burgum, told me he wrote his first check to Trump — for $500,000 — because the North Dakotan was in the mix for the Republican ticket.

But Burgum is relatively untested on a national stage. He’ll face questions about the abortion ban he signed into law last year that does not allow for rape and incest exceptions after six weeks of pregnancy.

Marco Rubio. During the 2016 race, Trump taunted the Florida senator as “Little Marco.” But the men quietly reconciled once Trump took office. Rubio has been a close adviser on foreign policy and other issues. And Trump likes the idea of having a Spanish speaker on the ticket to sell his hard-right anti-immigration policies.

Yet Rubio hasn’t been as public as others about his desire to join the ticket. He wasn’t among the V.P. contenders who sat with Trump in a Manhattan courtroom during his trial. He’s not a fixture at Trump’s rallies. Part of the reason may be tactical: Trump is known to erupt on anyone who inches too close to his spotlight. But the approach has left Trump confused. “Does he even want the job?” Trump recently asked one Republican operative.

J.D. Vance. The senator from Ohio — a graduate of Yale Law School and a best-selling author — is the closest thing in the top tier to a fire-breathing ideologue. He ably defends Trumpism on television, knowing when to dial up the rhetoric and when to turn self-effacing. He’s raised lots of money to finance the campaign. Plenty of people around Mar-a-Lago tell me how much Trump likes Vance.

But the former president also likes people with experience. The average age of his cabinet in 2017 was 62. Vance is only 39 years old, barely above the minimum for a president (35) and roughly half Trump’s age. He’s less than two years into his first elected office.

Tom Cotton. Trump often talks about finding figures from “central casting,” and the senator from Arkansas fits the mold: The 6-foot-5 Ivy League graduate is a decorated military veteran whom the former president views as one of his most effective defenders on television.

Bill Hagerty. The senator from Tennessee is making a last-minute push for consideration. He showed up at Trump fund-raisers in Alabama and California last week, for instance. It might be working. Trump has repeatedly asked his inner circle in recent days for opinions about Hagerty, who spent a career in private equity before he became Trump’s ambassador to Japan — and later won election to the Senate.

Tim Scott. Since ending his own presidential campaign in November, Scott seems to be doing all the right things. The senator from South Carolina fires up Trump crowds on the campaign trail. He highlights his close ties to big donors who haven’t yet committed. He promises to woo minority voters. But Trump expressed disappointment in Scott’s debate performance last summer.

Ben Carson. Trump keeps mentioning his former cabinet secretary as a potential running mate. But Carson was the subject of several scandals while serving as Trump’s secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and there doesn’t seem to be anyone in Trump’s inner circle pushing for his promotion.

Elise Stefanik. Trump loved Stefanik’s brutal questioning of college presidents about antisemitism on campuses, people close to the former president said. Stefanik, 39, is the youngest person to serve in House Republican leadership and was just 30 when she was elected. There may be no harder worker on this list. But the congresswoman can seem too practiced and rehearsed for Trump, who often riffs through his speeches.

Others still nominally in contention include people like Representative Byron Donalds of Florida and Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders of Arkansas. But the early chatter that Trump would pick a woman or a character beloved by his base seems wrong. That explains why Kari Lake, the Republican Senate candidate in Arizona, and Vivek Ramaswamy, the energetic Ohio businessman, are no longer on the list.

Instead, the advisers around Trump, many of whom I’ve known for years, said the former president had returned to his comfort zone with potential running mates who are mostly white and male. Of course, even following his own convention deadline, Trump still has time to change his mind.

  • Trump had a virtual interview with a New York City probation official, which is required before the judge sentences him in the hush-money case, The A.P. reports.

  • The judge overseeing Trump’s classified documents case narrowed the indictment, striking one charge over an incident involving a sensitive military map.

  • The U.N. Security Council endorsed a U.S.-backed cease-fire plan in Gaza. Neither Israel nor Hamas have formally embraced the proposal.

  • Antony Blinken, Biden’s secretary of state, met with Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials in Jerusalem. Blinken also urged Egypt’s president to pressure Hamas to accept the cease-fire proposal.

  • Israel’s military said that three of the hostages rescued from Gaza last week had been held in a Hamas member’s house. Military officials said that showed the group was using civilian homes to shield its activity.

  • When a truck carrying some of the rescued hostages broke down and was surrounded by militants, the Israeli military ordered an airstrike that killed many Palestinians. Read the full story of the raid.

Lives Lived: The Rev. James Lawson Jr., who studied Gandhi’s principles of civil disobedience, was an influential strategist for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He taught protesters the painful techniques of nonviolence and confronted racial injustice in America for five decades. He died at 95.

N.H.L.: The Florida Panthers beat the Edmonton Oilers in the Stanley Cup Final, taking a 2-0 series lead. Evan Rodrigues scored two goals in the third period.

N.B.A.: The UConn coach Dan Hurley declined a six-year, $70 million offer to coach the Los Angeles Lakers.

College baseball: N.C. State earned the final spot in the 2024 World Series after defeating Georgia. They will join three other A.C.C. teams and four S.E.C. teams.

Many Asian grocery stores in the U.S. opened as mom-and-pop shops during the soaring immigration of the 1970s and ’80s. Some — including H Mart and 99 Ranch Market — have become sleek chains that cater to millions of Americans who enjoy foods such as Shin Ramyun instant noodles and chili crisp. Read Priya Krishna’s article about how these stores are reshaping America’s eating habits.



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