Trump’s list of VP hopefuls and the one question that could rule them all

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Daily Kos already took a swing through the short list of Donald Trump’s would-be vice-presidential picks, but the short list seems to get longer every day. Last week, Trump’s visit to Texas spurred him to say that Gov. Greg Abbott was “absolutely” on the list.

Forbes’ list includes no fewer than 16 names supposedly under consideration, including former weather person Kari Lake and perennial footstool Sen. Lindsey Graham. But right now, the folks who have laid money on the line have one name consistently near the top of the list—South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem. Noem is currently on top of the board at OddsChecker.com with a big edge over second place Vivek Ramaswamy. She slightly lags behind Sen. Tim Scott at Predictit.org, where the pair dominates all other contenders.

But even if Noem is currently the bet of those who bet on the whims of Donald Trump’s questionable reasoning, she may fall short when it comes to the most important factor. Noem hasn’t yet given the right answer to the One Question, and without that, she may never get to share a stage with Trump at the Republican National Convention.

The One Question to rule them all is: Would she discard the Constitution to please Trump? 

Or, said another way, had she been the person holding onto the envelopes on Jan. 6, 2021, would she have let all the votes be counted, or would she have found some way to seat King Donald J. Trump, first of his name, on the throne?

Last August, Noem gave an answer that Trump may find disturbingly reasonable.

Reporter: Do you think that Mike Pence did the right thing by certifying the 2020 election?

Noem: I believe he did. I do.

Contrast this with Rep. Elise Stefanik, another name on the list, who told CNN last month that she didn’t think Pence took “the right approach.” She went on to defend going around the Constitution in the most Trumpian-way possible, saying, “I think it is very important that we continue to stand up for the Constitution and have legal and secure elections, which we did not have in 2020.”

That’s the kind of will-hijack-the-White-House-for-you energy that has to move Stefanik up a few notches.

This week, Rep. Bryon Donalds went two-thirds of the way to Mordor with a heavy hint that he would not have certified the 2020 results. But—and these are considerable bonus points—Donalds wouldn’t commit to certifying election results in 2028 if he were vice president "If you have state officials who are violating the election law in their states ... then no, I would not.”

However, Noem has a lot going for her. She’s relatively young (52), has repeatedly demonstrated her willingness to place ideology ahead of science, and makes a more than passable Mocklania in case Trump has trouble getting his wife to ever put in an appearance in this repeat quest. Plus, as The South Dakota Standard makes clear, she has nothing that looks like a coherent policy or notable achievements. Those are both good things on this list. But six months ago, she was on the wrong side of the One Question, and that pesky insistence on the idea that, to be a patriot, you have to obey the Constitution may be too much. Of course, there’s always time for her to move.

Sen. Tim Scott, currently topping Noem at PredictIt, not only holds the record for most obsequious moment in recent political history …

Scott has moved from a definitive Pence-did-the-right-thing position last August to a conspicuous refusal to touch the subject in February. He might not have publicly evolved into a full burn-it-all-down-for-you position so far, but he definitely seems to be on that trajectory.

Here’s the full list, as far as is known to this point.

  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott. He’s well-positioned to continue the fake immigration invasion story, which is really all Republicans have these days.

  • North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum. He is possibly the most boring man in a group of Republican presidential candidates that included Mike Pence. That’s an accomplishment.

  • Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson. I can’t remember when this guy last appeared on anyone’s radar. 

  • Gov. Ron DeSantis. He thought he was the next Trump, so making him grovel each day would probably make Trump happy.

  • Rep. Byron Donalds. He got the One Question right, and his desperation is nearly at a Scott-esque level.

  • Former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. Her will-betray-anyone-for-attention energy is high, and she was once a guest host of Tucker Carlson’s treason-a-thon. But really … who is she again?

  • Sen. Lindsey Graham. Sure, he would rip off his own face if Trump asked him, but Trump knows that not making Graham V.P. only rubs salt in the wound. Trump likes salt.

  • Kari Lake. Lake may be unmatched in her willingness to say anything in the hope of getting elected. Also, she will cut you.

  • South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster. He’s promoted Trump’s election fraud claims. I empathize with him on the godawful old-man hair. That’s all I have.

  • South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem. Her willingness to feed citizens to the pandemic while giving Dr. Anthony Fauci the middle finger made her a MAGA hero. Plus, don’t ignore the power of Mocklania.

  • Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Has somehow avoided getting the many indictments he deserves. Trump may want him around for tips. 

  • Tech bro Vivek Ramaswamy: He’s probably the best Trump surrogate, but how can Trump trust anyone this much like himself?

  • Rep. Elise Stefanik. She will go there. Just ask. She’s ready, willing, and … well, she’s ready. Got the One Question right. Big Karen Energy.

  • Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Doesn’t seem to give a damn about whether she gets this gig, but that may be the kind of low ambition that appeals to Trump.

  • Sen. Tim Scott. So willing to debase himself that it actually seems to bother Trump.

  • Sen. J.D. Vance: Feckless weasel. No, really. That’s his good point. He’s also staunchly on the dark side of the One Question, so despite being down here at the end of the alphabet, his odds are probably better than you think.

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