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  /  News   /  Trump’s VP search enters homestretch

Trump’s VP search enters homestretch

Former President Trump’s search for a running mate is entering the homestretch, with an announcement expected in the coming days.

Sources said the former president is still focused on Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and JD Vance (R-Ohio) and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R) as his top potential running mates, though Rubio and Vance have reportedly been at the center of discussions.

“If I were President Trump, I would make sure I pick somebody that could add value in 2024. Expand the map, take — prosecute the case against the liberals,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a Trump ally, said Sunday on “Face the Nation.”

Trump is expected to make his choice public ahead of the Republican National Convention, which kicks off next Monday. One source close to the campaign said the former president could make the announcement at a Florida campaign rally on Tuesday, a Pennsylvania rally scheduled for Saturday, or, perhaps most likely, in a post on Truth Social.

“It could happen anytime this week. Could happen literally right up until the first day of the convention,” senior Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller said Monday on Fox News.

However, news of Trump’s running mate announcement could potentially interrupt arguably one of the most negative news cycles of President Biden’s administration. 

“Outside of Election Day 2016, this has been the best two-week stretch of Donald Trump’s political career,” said Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist. “He’s leading in national polls, he’s leading in state polls, he’s leading in cash on hand, and Democrats are talking about ejecting his opponent from the ticket. No way is he going to enter the fray.” 

Both Vance and Rubio said Sunday they had not heard one way or the other about whether they were the pick to join Trump on the ticket. 

All three men — Vance, Rubio and Burgum — have their backers and detractors lobbying for or against them. 

The Wall Street Journal pegged Burgum as the “best man” for the job, citing his ability to govern and his business background, while critics have questioned whether the red-state governor would do much to expand Trump’s appeal.

Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) and some other lawmakers have advocated for Vance, praising him as the face of the America First movement in Congress and a capable messenger for the ticket. But skeptics have questioned if Vance, who is a first-term senator, has the experience needed to serve as vice president alongside Trump, who is 78 and limited to one more term.

Rubio’s allies have argued the senator could help expand Trump’s appeal to minority voters, which could chip away at President Biden’s coalition and potentially flip swing states in Trump’s favor. Rubio and Trump were bitter rivals in the 2016 presidential race, though, and the senator would need to move outside of Florida in order to join the ticket.

“There’s been no indication when it will be or who it will be. President Trump and his team have done an epic job building suspense,” said one Republican strategist familiar with the process.

The Trump campaign has for weeks been tight-lipped about any developments in the search for a running mate, saying only the former president knows whom he will ultimately pick.

“As President Trump has said himself, the top criteria in selecting a vice president is a strong leader who could make a great President,” senior campaign adviser Brian Hughes said in a statement. “But anyone telling you they know who or when President Trump will choose his VP is lying unless that person is named Donald J. Trump.”

The Trump campaign last month sent vetting materials to several candidates. In addition to the finalists, the campaign was in touch with Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.), Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson.

While Trump zeroes in on his choice, some Republicans have pushed for the former president to consider a running mate with broad appeal to more moderate voters who could bolster his standing in swing states.

Some Republicans have suggested that Trump should consider choosing Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) as his running mate, citing Youngkin’s appeal outside of Trump circles. The chatter around the governor comes as Republicans feel increasingly optimistic about Virginia, a state that hasn’t gone for the party since 2004. 

“Somebody’s not being talked about, that should be in my view, is Youngkin from Virginia. If we win Virginia, we win. It is over,” Graham said in the same interview on “Face the Nation.” 

Trump said last month at his postdebate rally in Virginia that he is “considering” Youngkin as an option. Youngkin, in turn, has responded to the speculation, saying he is “humbled” but focused on his current job.

When asked about the running mate speculation surrounding Youngkin, Trump donor Dan Eberhart said “maybe, but he isn’t MAGA.” 

“I wish Trump would help himself,” Eberhart added.