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Donald Trump

Trump's VP options: Sizing up their pros and cons from J.D. Vance to Kari Lake

Speculation has been mounting for months about who Donald Trump will choose as his running mate in the 2024 race for the White House. Will the presumptive 2024 GOP nominee pick someone who can expand the Republican tent? Will Trump opt for one of his longtime allies – or a former critic who's since joined the MAGA movement?

Here's a look at 19 of Trump's most visible options for a vice presidential candidate – and the pros and cons for each option as Republicans try to reclaim the White House.

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Who has been mentioned as possible VP candidate?

At least 19 people have been mentioned as possible picks to serve as Trump's running mate. An announcement is expected by the start of the Republican National Convention on July 15 in Milwaukee, if not a drop sooner.

Greg Abbott | Katie Britt | Doug Burgum | Tucker Carlson | Ben Carson | Tom Cotton | Byron Donalds | Tulsi Gabbard | Sarah Huckabee Sanders | Kari Lake | Nancy Mace | Kristi Noem | Vivek Ramaswamy | Marco Rubio | Tim Scott | Elise Stefanik | Marjorie Taylor Greene |JD Vance | Glenn Youngkin

Greg Abbott

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ʸ鰿:

  • Abbott has 10 years of experience as governor of the nation’s second largest state, which would likely give Republican voters confidence that he could step into the presidency should anything happen to the 78-year-old Trump.
  • Trump would have a staunch ally on the GOP hot-button issues of illegal immigration, gun rights and lowering taxes.
  • Abbott has been one of the most vociferous critics of President Joe Biden, and attack dog is part of the job description for any Trump vice presidential candidate.

䰿:

  • Trump doesn’t need Abbott to carry Texas, which has been a Republican stronghold since 1980 and is expected to remain so this cycle.
  • Abbott is a white man who turns 67 eight days after Election Day, bringing little to the table when it comes to expanding Republican appeal among young voters and voters of color.
  • Abbott does not appear to want the job. "I'd rather be governor of Texas," he said in Trump’s presence when the two appeared together at an event in February.

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Katie Britt

By Rachel Barber/USA Today

PROS:

  • Britt, 42, is young and a woman. That means she could appeal to two broad voting blocs that Trump has struggled to reach: young voters and female voters.
  • If she is chosen and the pair wins the White House, there is little chance that a Democrat could win her Senate seat in deep-red Alabama.
  • Britt is a former lawyer with a relatively straightforward political background and few major controversies.

CONS:

  • Other than two years served in the 91Ӱ Senate, Britt doesn't have a long track record as an elected official and is relatively unvetted.
  • Her MAGA identity won’t help Trump secure moderate or independent voters.
  • Trump doesn’t need Britt to carry Alabama, which hasn’t voted for a Democratic president since 1976.

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Doug Burgum

By Joey Garrison/91Ӱ

ʸ鰿:

  • The governor is wealthy and a businessman, and he’s shown himself to be a valuable stumper for Trump on the campaign trail and on TV.
  • Burgum has transformed from a Trump skeptic – last year saying that he would not do business with the former real-estate mogul – to a defender of Trump.
  • His mild-mannered temperament poses no risk of stealing attention from the former president. In 2016, Trump showed his preference for a low-key VP when he picked Mike Pence.

䰿:

  • Burgum would do little to expand Trump’s reach, and he wouldn't be the most popular choice among the MAGA base. Burgum’s state of North Dakota is solidly red.
  • He has few connections to Washington, no foreign policy experience, and until recently, few Republican voters knew who he was.
  • Burgum has shown his willingness to be loyal to Trump in recent months, but it’s unclear if he’s won the former president’s trust. It was only one year ago when he was criticizing Trump.

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Tucker Carlson

By Phillip M. Bailey/91Ӱ

ʸ鰿:

  • The former Fox News host remains a face of conservative media who knows how to craft a message that appeals to Trump’s MAGA base.
  • A 2023 Gallup poll showed Carlson is the most popular news figure in the U.S, and that stems largely from being seen as a forbearer of Trumpism. The two share a distaste for liberal social causes, a skepticism of the 91Ӱ intelligence community and a more isolationist foreign policy, particularly in terms of Russia.
  • Carlson and Trump have shown a good working rapport, at least publicly. Trump skipped the first GOP presidential debate in 2023 and opted for a 45-minute talk with Carlson instead.

䰿:

  • Carlson’s true feelings about Trump were revealed as part of evidence in a lawsuit against Fox News. “I hate him passionately,” the TV host said in a text message to colleagues.
  • Carlson is a polarizing figure with years of controversial comments who is known to flirt with conspiracy theories that could further alienate independent voters. He was the centerpiece of a $1.6 billion lawsuit against Fox News by Dominion Voting Systems, which was the subject of false allegations about the 2020 election.
  • Being as popular as the person at the top of the ticket could be a disqualification. VP picks historically don’t outpace the presidential nominee.

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Ben Carson

by Karissa Waddick/91Ӱ

ʸ鰿:

  • Carson has a track record of loyalty as former Housing and Urban Development secretary, where he was one of few Cabinet officials who served the entirety of Trump's first term.
  • He has defended Trump against accusations of racism in the past and could bring a larger slice of Black voters into the GOP coalition.
  • Carson has a low-key persona and is unlikely to overshadow Trump. At age 72, he also isn't likely to use a VP nomination as a springboard for a 2028 presidential bid.

䰿:

  • Like Trump, Carson hails from Florida. Under the 91Ӱ Constitution, the state’s Electoral College representatives couldn't vote for both Florida men, meaning Carson would probably need to establish residency outside of the Sunshine State.
  • Carson has advocated for a national ban on abortion access, which could hurt the Trump ticket among moderate and swing voters.
  • Carson has a history of making controversial comments, including once arguing that the passage of the Affordable Care Act was more damaging to the 91Ӱ than the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

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Tom Cotton

By George Russell/91Ӱ Network

ʸ鰿:

  • Cotton is an outspoken firebrand who can relate to and mobilize the MAGA base.
  • His decade-plus of experience in Congress, Harvard Law degree and military service could help bolster the ticket’s appeal among more traditional GOP voters.
  • While Cotton is at least as conservative as Trump, his steady demeanor could complement Trump’s more turbulent style.

䰿:

  • Cotton’s base of supporters overlaps with Trump’s, and it could be difficult for the pair to cultivate broad appeal beyond the MAGA movement.
  • Trump might calculate that another white man on the ticket won’t help him with outreach to female or Black voters.
  • Cotton is already a name brand and a political heavyweight who could upstage Trump if chosen – and use his running mate slot to launch a 2028 presidential campaign.

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Byron Donalds

By Phillip M. Bailey/91Ӱ

ʸ鰿:

  • As one of the few Black conservatives in Congress, Donalds would be a historic choice at a time when the GOP is regularly accused of embracing anti-diversity policies.
  • Donalds emerged as an influential voice among the House’s more stringent conservative members after twice being nominated as an alternative to Rep. Kevin McCarthy during a fight over the speaker’s seat in January 2023.
  • The Florida congressman doesn’t back down from a fight in the face of liberal attacks, which appeals to Trump's political persona. That also could be turned into an asset in a debate joust with Vice President Kamala Harris.

䰿:

  • Donalds represents a Florida district that is roughly 6% Black, creating questions over whether he can deliver minority voters for Trump.
  • A two-term congressman, Donalds is more of a show horse known for his TV appearances than legislative heavy lifting. He isn’t in the GOP leadership pipeline, and he didn’t have much leadership experience during his four years as a Florida state legislator, either.
  • Donalds and Trump are both from Florida, which means that under the 91Ӱ Constitution one of them would have to move to collect the state’s electoral votes. If Donalds does so, he would have to leave Congress.

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Tulsi Gabbard

By Jeremy Yurow/91Ӱ Network

ʸ鰿:

  • Gabbard could expand Trump’s base. At 43, she’s a woman of color who could appeal to younger and non-white voters. As a former Democrat, she also could attract independent voters.
  • Her military service and foreign policy experience bolster her credentials in areas where Trump has faced criticism. Trump has not served in the armed forces, and he had no political experience before his 2016 presidential bid.
  • Her willingness to break from her former party mirror Trump's outsider approach, potentially appealing to voters disillusioned with traditional party politics.

䰿:

  • Gabbard would almost certainly face criticism for her progressive track record in Congress and previous endorsements of Sen. Bernie Sanders and President Joe Biden. Many could view her recent political shift as opportunism.
  • Gabbard is relatively inexperienced compared to other politicians Trump could choose as his running mate.
  • Gabbard would face increased scrutiny for her history of spreading conspiracy theories and pro-Russia talking points, something Trump's critics have also accused him of doing.

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Sarah Huckabee Sanders

By George Russell/91Ӱ NETWORK

ʰDz:

  • Sanders is a road-tested loyalist – she fiercely defended Trump for years as his White House press secretary.
  • A mother of three, Sanders has sought to connect the GOP vision with the values of working families and could help Trump court more moderate and undecided female voters.
  • She has strong name recognition and MAGA bona fides from the years she spent publicly connected to Trump on the national stage.

DzԲ:

  • Sanders holds little governing experience. She is not even halfway through her first term in elected office as Arkansas governor.
  • A recent scandal over potential mishandling of government funds in the purchase of a $19,000 podium has left Sanders with some baggage that could come back to haunt her on the campaign trail.
  • Arkansas is guaranteed to vote Republican in 2024, so Trump doesn't need Sanders to win the state.

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Kari Lake

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PROS:

  • The former TV newscaster has shown unflinching loyalty to Trump for years in the political arena. She describes herself as “Trump in heels,” and his supporters react to her as such.
  • As a woman, Lake adds a measure of gender diversity, which could help Trump attract female voters.
  • She is generally liked by religious conservatives, who are a key part of the GOP base.

CONS:

  • Lake is also running in a tight race for an open 91Ӱ Senate seat in Arizona that Republicans are hoping to pick up in 2024.
  • She has a penchant for gaffes and often diverges from her political message to dwell on her contempt for the media.
  • Lake’s election denialism has included a failed insistence in legal battles that she is the rightful winner of the governor’s race in 2022, undermining her credibility with some voters.

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Nancy Mace

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Pros:

  • Mace has supported Trump in the past and has worked as a coalition director and field director for his campaign. In 2024, Mace endorsed Trump over former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, despite supporting Haley in the past.
  • Mace has toed the line between being a more traditional conservative voice in Congress and embracing the MAGA movement. Her political adaptability could help Trump target his message to moderate voters, particularly suburban women.
  • She has taken a more centrist stance on abortion access than much of the Republican Party, and she notably made headlines as a state legislator in 2019 for forcing colleagues to add exceptions for rape and incest into a South Carolina abortion law

DzԲ:

  • Trump and Mace have a complicated history after he endorsed Katie Arrington, Mace’s challenger, in her reelection campaign in 2022. He called her “crazy” and a “terrible person” during a rally in South Carolina.
  • Mace condemned Trump after the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol, saying she wanted to see him held accountable. However, the two have been publicly supportive in recent years.
  • Mace has been less focused on legislative accomplishments than some of her colleagues during her time in Congress and ex-staffers have alleged that she's looking for national attention.

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Kristi Noem

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PROS:

  • Noem has a long history of supporting Trump. She cast doubt on the validity of his loss to Biden in the 2020 election and gave the ex-president an early endorsement in 2024.
  • Unlike other VP contenders, Noem has political experience on the national and state level. She served four terms in the 91Ӱ House of Representatives before running for the position she now holds: South Dakota’s governor.
  • As governor, she guided the state through the pandemic without statewide closures or shutdowns for most of COVID-19 and established a track record of conservative policy achievements.

CONS:

  • In her recent autobiography, Noem included a passage about her decision to shoot a 14-month-old, disobedient hunting dog named Cricket as an example of her leadership skills. The story was widely viewed as a death-knell for her VP chances.
  • The book also bruised Noem’s credibility, after a series of anecdotes were questioned related to her relationship with foreign leaders such as North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and French President Emanuel Macron.
  • She has faced allegations of abuse of power, including an investigation into whether her daughter, Kassidy Peters, received preferential treatment as she tried to get a real estate appraiser’s license.

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Vivek Ramaswamy

By Karissa Waddick/91Ӱ

PROS:

  • At just 38 years old, Ramaswamy would bring a youthful energy to the Trump campaign during an election year where age is a major concern for voters.
  • The former biotech entrepreneur is estimated to have a net worth of close to a billion dollars.
  • Trump said Ramaswamy performed well in the GOP primary debates. The ex-president could view him as an asset in a sparring match with Vice President Kamala Harris.

CONS:

  • Ramaswamy has cast himself as a MAGA 2.0 conservative, which may make it more difficult for Trump to wrangle support from moderate and swing voters.
  • He has no political or governing experience.
  • His history of promoting conspiracy theories would open him up to Democratic attacks.

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Marco Rubio

By Zac Anderson/91Ӱ

PROS:

  • A fluent Spanish speaker, Rubio could help Trump reach Hispanic voters who increasingly are trending Republican.
  • Rubio was a darling of the GOP establishment when he ran for president in 2016 and still appeals to many traditional Republicans, which could help Trump win over voters who have cast ballots for Nikki Haley in the primary.
  • Rubio’s considerable foreign policy experience could be an asset in an election where conflicts in Ukraine and Israel will be front and center

CONS:

  • Because both Trump and Rubio live in Florida, under the 91Ӱ Constitution the state’s GOP delegates can’t vote for them both. That means Rubio likely would have to move. Trump has mentioned this as a concern.
  • Some in Trump’s MAGA base still are suspicious of Rubio because of his past support for comprehensive immigration reform and nasty 2016 primary fight with Trump.
  • Florida isn’t considered a battleground state anymore, so selecting the senator wouldn’t help Trump carry a key swing state.

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Tim Scott

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PROS:

  • Among the only Black conservative lawmakers in Congress, Scott could help boost support for Trump’s campaign among diverse voting blocs. He launched a multimillion effort to convince Black and Latino voters to join the GOP earlier this year.
  • Although Scott has criticized Trump in the past, he has become a steadfast surrogate after dropping out of the 2024 Republican presidential race
  • He is a devout Christian, which could help Trump shore up support among the Republican Party’s evangelical base.

CONS:

  • Scott’s low-key performances in the GOP presidential debates could draw concern about his ability to hold his own in a match up against Vice President Kamala Harris.
  • His 2024 campaign for the GOP presidential nomination was built on a message of hope, which runs counter to Trump’s campaign rhetoric that America is in decline.
  • Scott’s home state of South Carolina is not a general election battleground.

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Elise Stefanik

PRO:

  • Stefanik has become a GOP superstar, and her candidacy as a 39-year-old woman could help the party reach female voters.
  • As a House Republican leader, she has cultivated deep relationships with many lawmakers that could be a big help to rally support for a Trump White House’s agenda.
  • She has a proven ability to adapt at a moment's notice, a key skill for anyone working under the famously unpredictable Trump.

CONS:

  • New York is still a deep blue state, and her presence on the ticket wouldn’t automatically help Trump reach voters in more consequential states.
  • Early on in her career, she rebuked Trump’s rhetoric and even voted against his signature 2017 tax cuts.
  • Trump might see her as a better fit to stay in the House as one of his liaisons on Capitol Hill. She hasn’t ruled out running for speaker.

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Marjorie Taylor Greene

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ʸ鰿:

  • Greene is one of Trump’s most fervent supporters in Congress. She would be a staunch ally on key issues, including abortion restrictions, immigration and gun rights.
  • She could help Trump appeal to female voters, a critical voting demographic he will need in the 2024 race. At age 50, she could help counterbalance concerns about the 78-year-old Trump.
  • Adding Greene to the ticket could help Trump carry Georgia, a key swing state that ultimately voted for Biden in the 2020 presidential election. She represents a district in the northwest corner of the state.

䰿:

  • Greene is politically inexperienced and hasn't garnered a reputation for working on legislation. During her four years in Congress, Greene has yet to successfully pass a single bill into law.
  • If Trump regains the presidency, one of his most important relationships will be with House Republicans, many of whom Greene has publicly sparred with or antagonized during her two terms.
  • Her status as a MAGA Republican will be a challenge as Trump tries to secure moderate voters.

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J.D. Vance

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ʸ鰿:

  • Vance is one of Trump’s staunchest defenders. He often appears on mainstream media outlets – particularly CNN – to praise Trump and attack his opponents.
  • He is well-spoken and articulates the MAGA message in a persuasive way, which could serve him well in a debate with Vice President Kamala Harris.
  • Vance outlined his rags to riches story in his memoir “Hillbilly Elegy” which could be compelling to swing voters. The memoir also increased his national profile.

CONS:

  • Vance is from Ohio, which is no longer considered a presidential battleground. Trump won the state in 2016 and 2020, and doesn’t need a VP nominee to make inroads with voters there.
  • While Vance is young, he’s also another white man. He won’t necessarily help the Trump ticket appeal to Black or female voters.
  • Vance was just elected to the Senate in 2022 and had no prior political experience.

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Glenn Youngkin

By Savannah Kuchar-/91Ӱ

ʸ鰿:

  • Youngkin has his own money – he amassed a small fortune and was called “one of the nation’s richest politicians” by Forbes after he won his 2021 election.
  • His 2021 victory in Virginia was somewhat of a surprise in a blue-trending state, and the governor has said it is “up for grabs” for Republicans in November.
  • Youngkin’s nice guy persona would balance Trump’s more inflammatory approach, but the governor has also bolstered his image as a conservative fighter. He has issued the most vetoes of any Virgina governor in history.

䰿:

  • Trump and Youngkin have kept each other at arms length. Youngkin was able to keep the former president out of the commonwealth during his off-year 2021 campaign for governor.
  • Youngkin campaigned heavily on behalf of Republicans in state-level races in 2023, but his party failed to take back the state Senate or flip the House of Delegates.
  • Youngkin’s term as governor ends in January 2026. If he were on the ticket as VP and Trump wins, Youngkin would have to step down from his state office.

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