Former President Donald Trump has told advisors in recent days that he is revisiting his consideration of House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-NY), the standout New York congresswoman whose interrogation of top university presidents led to a national discussion about antisemitism on campus and resignations from two of the three presidents who testified.
According to NBC News, the former president recently held a candlelit dinner at Mar-a-Lago where he worked the room, thanking guests for supporting his campaign and asking for their thoughts on whom he might select as a pairing for his electoral ticket. One attendee asked for his thoughts on Stefanik.
“She’s a killer,” Trump allegedly told the room, according to one person who was at the event.
Since then, Trump and his top aides have begun to scrutinize Rep. Stefanik more closely, according to eight sources who spoke with the outlet. The review includes her statements of loyalty and her ability to drive the news cycle on favorable issues.
“Stefanik is at the top” of the shortlist said Steve Bannon, the former 2016 Trump advisor who maintains a close relationship with the Republican leader. Chief among considerations is her unflinching loyalty to Trump’s claims that the 2020 election was stolen by President Joe Biden, including her refusal to certify the election as a member of Congress. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has also recommended that Trump consider her closely.
“If you’re Trump, you want someone who’s loyal above all else,” a Republican campaign operative told NBC. “Particularly because he sees Mike Pence as having made a fatal sin.”
On Wednesday, Rep. Stefanik announced she would be joining President Trump on the campaign trail in New Hampshire as he looks to fend off a surging challenge by Nikki Haley and essentially put the GOP nomination process to bed.
Stefanik, a Harvard graduate who came of age supporting Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, has gravitated toward the conservative wing of the GOP since President Trump first took office as evidenced by her recent endorsement of Arizona Senate candidate Kari Lake. Her shift has not gone unrecognized by Trump.
“She’s come a long way, and now she’s really, really with us,” Trump said during a lunch in the spring of 2022, according to a source familiar with his comments, adding, “She was kind of with us before, but she’s really with us now.”
The speculation is not being fed by Stefanik, who declined to say whether she would accept a spot on Trump’s ticket.
“I’m not going to get into any of my conversations with President Trump. I’m honored to call him a friend. I’m proud to be the first member of Congress to have endorsed his re-election, and he had a huge win in Iowa. So we’re very excited about that,” she said.
In an earlier Meet the Press interview, however, Stefanik said she would be willing to leave her day job if asked.
“Well, I, of course, would be honored to serve in any capacity in a Trump administration,” Stefanik said.
Stefanik made waves late last year when she grilled the presidents of Harvard, MIT, and UPenn over their handling of antisemitic protests on campus. The trio’s lawyerly answers proved fatal for the presidents of Harvard and UPenn, both of whom resigned after revolts by alumni and donors. Claudine Gay, Harvard’s former president, also faced multiple allegations of plagiarism in her previous scholarly work.