Vivek is out of race for VP – A Review of the Remaining Publicly Named Possibilities (Opinion Article)

[Updated 3-21-2024 to Include Byron Donalds]
President Trump personally told Vivek Ramaswamy that he has been ruled out as a Vice Presidential candidate.

Bloomberg reported that “Loyalty, ideological compatibility and perceived electoral power are the metrics by which Trump is evaluating possible picks, according to people familiar with the process who spoke on the condition of anonymity.”

It would seem that on the first two variables and perhaps the third, Vivek would be very strong, but if considering this from the President’s perspective, Vivek is a bit of a showman and very talented – it would not be conducive for a ticket to have the Vice Presidential candidate sometimes upstage the Presidential candidate.  Such a perception can diminish the uniqueness of the President.

Recall when McCain first nominated Sarah Palin.  Palin was initially quite strong and loved, especially as a true conservative, and attractive as well.  While she became the laughingstock over literally nothing, the take-out was fully permitted by McCain.  He hated that she upstaged him, and it showed. 

Memories have long faded regarding that time – but the mistake was his; McCain was not perceptive (nor is his daughter today) and could not foresee the trouble of his choice.  His take-out of her hurt his own campaign – McCain never overcome the situation and his polls collapsed.  Ultimately, he was a weak politician subject to his selfish whims.  After he lost that campaign, he was an emotional windbag right to the end with the famous thumbs down to Republicans on Obamacare.

Similarly, Dan Quayle seemed to diminish to nothing over a misspelled word (caused by a misspelled card) – was he perhaps too shiny of a penny?

President Trump is too sophisticated and aware of this type of risk – his first VP, Mike Pence, could not have been more dull.  George W Bush was similarly aware and chose the riskless Cheney who had no further ambition and was more of an operator than a politician.

Upon Vivek’s exit from the primary, when they were on stage together, Vivek made an effort to shine.  It was clear at that moment, he could not be Vice President – the requisite deference was lacking.

Ultimately this again shows Trump’s genius – he manages all risks and understands how to balance a ticket – let’s just hope balance excludes the establishment.

Let us look at names we hear are currently under consideration in no particular order:

Robert Lighthizer, Elise Stefanik, Byron Donalds, Kristi Noem, Ben Carson, Doug Burgum:

Lighthizer is central to President Trump’s plans to rely on tariffs in trade policy. His loyalty is proven, and they share this ideology on trade.  Unfortunately given his work in Washington throughout his career and unanimous nomination to US Trade Rep, he may suffer excessive establishment roots, though his trade policy is anything but establishment.

Representative Elise Stefanik, as the 4th highest ranked Republican as Republican Conference chair, would provide for President Trump an effective whip over Congress and likely helpful with women electorally.  She is loyal in her votes on election integrity, ideologically compatible, and represents New York’s 21st District.  Trump has stated he plans to run a serious race in New York and New Jersey, which means she is additive on that front as well.

Representative Byron Donalds from Florida's 19th district very rapidly became a popular member.  He certainly would help President Trump electorally and I suspect has few differences on ideology and has perfect loyalty.  

Kristi Noem is loyal and ideologically aligned; however, her governorship provides limited electoral support given the very safe pro-Trump status of the state.  She is a woman and very attractive, which never hurts.

Doug Burgum, a white male and the Governor of North Dakota, doesn’t seem likely to help the President electorally.  I’m not sure what history they have together so there may not have been enough connections for them to have a relationship where loyalty could be tested.

Ben Carson – Mr. Carson, a very decent man, was not the most effective leader of HUD and unlikely to be elevated.  He is loyal and largely aligned on ideaology, but not electorally helpful.  I don’t see him as a possibility.

I’m expecting President Trump chooses Byron Donalds or Elise Stefanik as both exhibited strong loyalty and have ideaological alignment.  Byron has a stronger value electorally with the black male vote that is dynamically shifting toward President Trump.
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