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Who will Trump choose as his vice presidential choice? What to know.


WASHINGTON − Former President Donald Trump will spend part of his weekend hosting the latest episode of “The Apprentice,” but this time it’s the vice presidential edition.

At least six contenders for the former president’s running mate — Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C.; Senator J.D. Vance, Ohio; Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.; Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y.; South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem; and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum will attend a Republican donor retreat in Palm Beach, Florida, on Friday and Saturday in what appears to be a series of auditions.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for Republican leaders and supporters to come together,” said the invitation for the event, which will also include panel discussions with campaign officials and Republican lawmakers closed to the media.

But in Palm Beach, most eyes will be on the vice presidential candidates who have spent months trying at campaign rallies, primaries, rallies and television interviews to join Trump on the Republican ticket that also included Mike Pence in 2016 and 2020 .

Trump, who liked to keep contestants guessing when he hosted the reality show “The Apprentice,” has sent mixed signals about his running mate in recent months.

“Anyone who claims to know who or when President Trump will choose his vice president is lying, unless the person’s name is Donald J. Trump,” senior campaign adviser Brian Hughes told USA TODAY in a statement.

Here’s what you need to know about Trump’s potential VP picks:

Senator Tim Scott

If Trump looks for a historic pick, he could make Scott the Republicans’ first black vice presidential nominee.

Scott, who once battled Trump for the 2024 Republican nomination, eventually campaigned for his former rival in the primaries in New Hampshire and South Carolina.

On the other hand, Trump has suggested he doesn’t want an heir to the throne who has plans for the 2028 presidential election, and Scott could fall into that category if he decides to make another bid for the White House.

That’s why prominent figures like former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson keep popping up. Carson is not expected to launch another campaign for the White House — and he will not attend the donor retreat this weekend.

Senator J.D. Vance

Vance, a first-term senator, has been particularly vocal about defending Trump against his charges in four separate criminal cases, including the ongoing hush money trial in New York.

Vance, a frequent guest on television news, rose this week after reporters received an invitation indicating he would headline a May 15 fundraiser for the former president in Cincinnati. Vance is also friends with a key figure in Trump’s orbit: Donald Trump Jr.

Vance told Fox News and CNN this week that he has not spoken to Trump about the running mate position.

“If he were to ask me, obviously I would have to think seriously about it because I think it’s very important that he wins,” Vance told Fox News Sunday.

Representative Elise Stefanik

Trump could also make history by choosing a woman, and Stefanik has been on his potential list for months.

Stefanik, a member of the House leadership, supported Trump early on, aggressively campaigned for him in New Hampshire and often speaks to conservative groups such as the RNC donor conference this weekend in Palm Beach.

Stefanik was also an outspoken critic of Trump’s criminal cases, to the point where he filed a legal complaint against special counsel Jack Smith. He is the lead prosecutor in the cases alleging Trump mishandled classified information and tried to steal the 2020 election.

Senator Marco Rubio

Rubio, a senator from the state hosting the GOP donor conference, would also make history as the first Latino on a national ticket.

A Trump-Rubio duo could pose a legal problem because they both live in Florida. Some advocates believe that running mates from the same state could be forced to forfeit that state’s electoral votes. That’s why running mate Dick Cheney moved his residence from Texas back to Wyoming when former President George W. Bush tapped him in 2000.

The Florida issue could also affect the chances of another Republican lawmaker and potential running mate planning to attend the donor retreat: U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla.

Doug Burgum, Governor of North Dakota

There are always long-shot candidates — former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin in 2008, for example — and Burgum is one of the speakers at the weekend party.

Trump could take into account the fact that the governor of North Dakota expressed his support and spoke on his behalf at an event the day before the Iowa caucuses. Burgum was more enthusiastic for Trump than other former 2024 candidates who are not eligible to be running mates, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.

Another politician not on Trump’s list: former Vice President Mike Pence.

Pence turned on Trump over his 2021 demand that his vice president try to throw out the electoral votes that elected Biden president, a step Pence insisted he could never legally have taken. Trump also appeared indifferent after mobs threatened Pence’s life when they invaded the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem

Noem will appear at the conference this weekend at a difficult time for her prospects as vice president, after a story in her new book revealed that she shot the family dog ​​because it kept attacking people and livestock.

The story sparked criticism from both Democrats and Republicans. Donald Trump Jr. called the revelation “not ideal” in his podcast “Triggered.”

In an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, Noem, who described the dog as dangerous, said: “It’s an unfortunate situation, but I hope people understand it. … They need to hear the truth and not what the media has. ” been spinning.”

Enough advice for Trump

As he assesses his options, Trump is getting plenty of advice from aides, lawmakers and donors on who to choose.

Some of the possible picks won’t be in Palm Beach this weekend, including Arkansas Governor Sarah Sanders (a former Trump press secretary), Texas Governor Greg Abbott and former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

On his radio show, Donald Trump Jr. told former Trump adviser Steve Bannon that his father should “accelerate” the decision on the running mate, especially given that Trump is locked up in court.

“You have a good foundation to do it,” Bannon replied. “You have great people, JD Vance, Governor Burgum of North Dakota. You know, you have Dr. Carson et al.’

Others said there’s no telling when Trump will make his decision.

Newt Gingrich, who considered Trump as a running mate in 2016, said the former president will act when he is ready.

“I relax and watch to see what (Trump) does; he will only do it out of intuition,” Gingrich told USA TODAY. “I suspect he’s looking at (Marco) Rubio, he’s looking at Scott, Tim Scott, and I think he’s probably looking at some female candidates, but I think he’ll think about it at his own pace. I think he does.” no rush.”