High Stakes Showdown: Tensions in GOP Soar Over Trump’s Potential VP Pick

Evan El-Amin / shutterstock.com
Evan El-Amin / shutterstock.com

The most intense Republican competition is not happening among the presidential candidates in Iowa or New Hampshire this month. Instead, a fierce battle is unfolding concerning Donald Trump’s choice for a running mate – or, more precisely, the intense scrutiny centers on the individual who will be excluded from consideration as Trump’s potential running mate.

Trump’s relationship with his former vice president, Mike Pence, soured in the aftermath of the January 6, 2021, riot at the US Capitol. Trump has ruled out the possibility of choosing Pence again, leaving room for speculation about other contenders. One suggestion is that Trump might opt for a female running mate to broaden the appeal of the Republican ticket in the upcoming election.

As Nikki Haley emerges as a formidable opponent to the former president and toughens her rhetoric, her adversaries in Trump World are intensifying their efforts to prevent her from winning the consolation prize of the vice presidency. According to FL Rep. Matt Gaetz, Nikki Haley as VP would be a MAGA nightmare.

Republican hawks view Haley as one of their own, while non-interventionists such as Gaetz are horrified that Trump would pick a Republican whose national security views are antithetical to America First. Given Gaetz’s attitude, it’s no wonder that there is even a “Stop Nikki” movement within the party. Moreover, her choice as VP nominee amounts to a proxy war in the equally fierce intra-party conflict over foreign policy.

Despite many viewing Ron DeSantis favorably, Trump has openly criticized DeSantis on social media. Fans of both may hope for a reconciliation, but DeSantis’ chances are slim. The 12th Amendment states that presidents and vice presidents cannot be picked from the same state.

What are the options in terms of who’s in?

The Oddschecker, a betting website, released a list of potential candidates for Trump’s vice-presidential pick in 2024. South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem is a top contender among the mentioned names. Noem, who has consistently praised Trump on social media, is positioned as a national figure in Republican circles and a loyalist to Trump.

According to Oddschecker, Noem has a +375 (15/4) chance of becoming Trump’s next running mate, with an implied probability of 21 percent. However, a December poll conducted by Redfield and Wilton Strategies for Newsweek suggests that Noem lacks strong support or name recognition among Trump supporters, with only 3 percent choosing her as their preferred running mate.

Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, who dropped out of the race following Trump’s victory in the Iowa caucuses, has also been mentioned as a potential vice-presidential candidate. Despite speculation that Ramaswamy’s White House bid was more about positioning himself for the vice-presidential role, Trump attacked him in a Truth Social post on January 13, labeling him as “not MAGA” and accusing his campaign of being “deceitful.” Oddschecker notes that Ramaswamy’s chances surged from +740 (37/5) to +650 (13/2) after the Iowa caucuses, giving him a 13.3 percent implied probability.

After withdrawing from the presidential race, Ramaswamy shifted his focus to Vice President Kamala Harris. This change in direction indicates that Ramaswamy is attempting to position himself as a potential vice president choice for Republican frontrunner and former US President Donald Trump.

New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, known for her fierce loyalty to Trump, is another female candidate on the list. Oddschecker places her at +700 (7/1) to be Trump’s next running mate. Despite what oddsmakers predict, many believe she has better odds than Ramaswamy. A recent NBC report also mentioned Stefanik as one of the candidates Trump wants as his next vice president.

Amid considerations for a diverse ticket, there have been discussions about Trump potentially choosing a person of color as his running mate. Ben Carson, whom Trump nominated as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in 2017, is mentioned in this context. Oddschecker offers odds of +800 (8/1) on Carson being named Trump’s next running mate. However, such suggestions seem more like speculation than concrete indications from Trump himself.

Recently, Senator Tim Scott from South Carolina, a former presidential candidate, announced that he supported President Trump. As a result of Senator Scott’s recent support, rumors have spread that he might be considered as Trump’s running mate. Oddschecker doesn’t offer the odds on the latest addition, so we will just have to wait and see who will actually be Trump’s VP pick.

Thanks to Donald Trump’s decisive victory in the Iowa caucus, it’s easy to see why attention has quickly shifted to the speculation surrounding his potential choice for a running mate in the 2024 GOP primary. As the speculations continue, political observers weigh in on the dynamics influencing Trump’s choice.

Given Trump’s history of openly criticizing many Republican officeholders, the pool of viable candidates may be narrower. However, the final selection remains uncertain, and as one Republican campaign operative notes, Trump values loyalty above all else, especially in the aftermath of what he perceives as a betrayal by Mike Pence.