The veepstakes is in full swing following former President Donald Trump’s rout in the Iowa caucuses on Monday, and surrogates say the Republican leader has narrowed his list of potential running mates down to a final three.
The decision, insiders told Axios, comes down to Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY), U.S. Senator J.D. Vance (R-OH), and presidential contender Nikki Haley. The reasons, benefits, and drawbacks vary for each, but those close to Trump say he has reasons to believe that each would be a net plus for his candidacy against President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.
Rep. Stefanik has made the list for two reasons, one being her unflinching loyalty to Trump in the face of heavy political and legal obstruction, and the second her ability to command the news cycle with issues that are favorable to Republicans. She was the first sitting member of Congress to endorse Trump and plans to campaign with him in New Hampshire over the final weekend before the state’s primary elections.
“She’s a killer,” President Trump previously told attendees at a Mar-a-Lago event, a sentiment echoed by former advisor Steve Bannon, who remains close to Trump.
Stefanik’s mirror image in the Senate may be Vance, who has repeatedly defended Trump in a Republican caucus that has kept him at arm’s length compared to House leadership, all of whose members have endorsed him. The Ohio Republican’s populist views on immigration and foreign policy, allies say, are a perfect match for the America First agenda of a Trump administration.
“I’d love to see a J.D. Vance,” Donald Trump Jr. recently told Newsmax. “People who are principally in alignment as well as aggressive.”
The outside pick is Haley, who remains in the presidential race and is fighting a last stand in New Hampshire where she trails President Trump by double digits in the latest polls. Despite coalescing the anti-Trump wing of the GOP behind her, Haley served as Trump’s U.N. ambassador and may be the perfect deputy to attract moderate and swing voters, especially suburban women who struggle with supporting the former president. However, Haley’s hawkish views on foreign policy would be a hard sell to the MAGA base.
“I would not only not vote for that ticket, I would advocate against it as strongly as I could,” Tucker Carlson said at a recent event. “That’s just poison,” Carlson added, blasting Haley as “not left, but … neoliberal in the darkest, most … nihilistic way” and saying she “has no real popular support.”