Donald Trump hasn’t yet formally announced he’ll run for president a third time – but a new report suggests he may already be narrowing down his list of potential running mates.
And CNN reports that one name has quickly risen to the top: Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y.
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“There is a part of Trump who thinks he needs a female VP,” an unnamed Trump advisor told CNN. “He definitely likes her, likely because of how effusive she is to him.”
A onetime moderate within the party, Stefanik shot to prominence last year when the GOP conference turned on Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., for supporting impeachment proceedings against Trump over the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol and for being publicly critical of him in the months that followed.
Cheney had been chair of the House Republican Conference… but got the boot in favor of Stefanik.
Since then, Stefanik has been a fixture on cable television, where she makes no bones over her continued support of Trump.
CNN said Trump believes she has undergone a “genuine transformation” into one of his loyal allies.
“President Trump thinks very highly of Elise Stefanik,” longtime Trump insider and Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy told CNN. “She has been talked about in circles close to him as a potential vice presidential.”
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An advisor to Stefanik told the Daily Caller she is focused on her constituents, and helping the GOP recapture the House during this autumn’s midterm elections – and not any potential shot at the vice presidency.
Trump, of course, had a big falling out with his one-time loyal sideman Mike Pence over the results of the 2020 election. Trump wanted his veep to refuse to certify the vote on Jan. 6, a power Pence insisted he did not have.
Since then, the two have openly criticized each other – making it clear the former president would pick a new number two if he runs again.
Other names bandied about have included South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Hayley, and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin.
But the biggest intrigue has surrounded a completely different name: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Trump was an early DeSantis backer in 2018, helping him win the crowded GOP primary. DeSantis, in turn, touted his ties to Trump throughout the campaign.
“Look, I helped Ron DeSantis at a level that nobody’s ever seen before,” Trump told The New York Times.
Indeed, DeSantis won the election by a razor-thin margin of just 0.4 percent, with many crediting that difference to the active and vocal support from Trump.
DeSantis was believed to have the inside track as Trump’s Number Two in 2024 – except relations between the two residents of the Sunshine State have turned icy behind the scenes.
“It’s not that Trump is complaining about Ron,” a person close to Trump told CNN last year. “But he likes to remind Ron and others that he made him.”
And one thing in particular reportedly irks the former president: While many prominent GOP contenders have said they won’t seek the nomination in 2024 if Trump does, DeSantis hasn’t joined them, implying he could run against his onetime mentor.
So far, polls show Trump’s the favorite win the nomination again, up by double digits over DeSantis.
“That’s a big lead for Trump,” The Washington Post acknowledged last month. “But hardly impenetrable over the next two years.”
“Indeed, one would expect someone with Trump’s stature to have such a lead at a moment when so few people are paying attention and probably don’t know much about DeSantis.”
The Horn editorial team