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Who Will Be Trump’s Running Mate?
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Who Will Be Trump’s Running Mate?

Potential veep picks engage in feats of loyalty as they vie for Trump’s favor.

Happy Wednesday! If you’ve ever glanced at a black and white dog and thought it looked a little like a panda bear, you’d make a great zookeeper at the Taizhou Zoo in Jiangsu Province, China.

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • Ukrainian security services announced Tuesday they had thwarted a Russian plot to assassinate Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and other top Ukrainian government officials. According to the agency, the scheme involved scouting for a potential assassin close to Zelensky “who could take the Head of State hostage and later kill him.” The Ukrainian security agency arrested two Ukrainian colonels on suspicion of treason for their connection to the plan. Assets involved with the plot were apparently also following other targets so Russia could coordinate a rocket and drone strike on their location.
  • Israel’s limited military operation into the southern Gaza city of Rafah that began on Monday does not cross President Joe Biden’s “red line,” Axios reported Tuesday. Biden had previously signaled that a ground invasion into Rafah was a “red-line” and would harm U.S.-Israeli relations and potentially alter Biden’s support for Israel’s war. That said, administration officials confirmed to the New York Times last night that Biden had decided last week to pause an arms shipment to Israel—consisting of about 3,500 bombs—due to concerns that the weaponry would be used in an upcoming offensive in Rafah. Meanwhile, representatives of Israel and Hamas arrived in Cairo, Egypt, on Tuesday to discuss a proposed deal that would exchange Israeli hostages held in Gaza for a ceasefire. 
  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced on Tuesday the repatriation of 11 U.S. citizens from northeastern Syria, where they’d been living in a camp housing the family of suspected Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists. The group—which includes five minors—is reportedly part of a single family and includes a 9-year-old non-U.S. citizen, the half-brother of one of the repatriated minors. Later Tuesday, the Justice Department unsealed an indictment against one of the repatriated U.S. citizens, Halima Salman, alleging she trained as an ISIS fighter overseas. Since 2016, when the ISIS caliphate began to crumble, the U.S. has repatriated 30 children and 21 adults from the camps in Syria.
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin was inaugurated for a fifth six-year term on Tuesday after winning last month’s sham presidential election with more than 88 percent of the popular vote. In his fifth term, Putin is set to pass Joseph Stalin as the longest-serving Russian ruler since Empress Catherine the Great in the 18th century. 
  • In a speech at the U.S. Holocaust Museum on Tuesday, President Joe Biden urged Americans to “never forget” Hamas’ violent October 7 terror attacks in Israel. “Now, here we are, not 75 years later but just seven and a half months later, and people are already forgetting,” the president said. “They’re already forgetting that Hamas unleashed this terror.” Also on Tuesday, the White House released new details in its plan to curb antisemitism on college campuses—which Biden condemned again in his speech—including outlining what can be considered antisemitism under Title VI, offering online support services, and working with tech companies to combat online antisemitism.
  • TikTok and its parent company, ByteDance, sued the U.S. government Tuesday over a recently enacted law that requires ByteDance to divest from the popular social media app or face a nationwide ban. President Biden signed the bill into law last month after it was included in a bipartisan foreign aid and national security package. The lawsuit argues that a potential ban of the app violates the First Amendment rights of the company and its American users. 
  • The Boy Scouts of America announced Tuesday the organization will change its official name to Scouting America after allowing female scouts to join in 2019. The organization will formally adopt the name change on its 115th anniversary in February. “This will be a simple but very important evolution as we seek to ensure that everyone feels welcome in Scouting,” the organization’s president and CEO, Roger Krone, said in a statement.
  • Porn star Stormy Daniels testified in former President Donald Trump’s New York criminal trial on Tuesday, offering details of her 2006 affair with Trump that led to the alleged hush-money payments that prosecutors say were made to influence the 2016 presidential election. She claimed she took the payment “out of fear, not money.” Trump’s lawyers asked for a mistrial following her testimony, arguing her story was not consistent with her past accounts and that certain details she offered—including that she blacked out during the encounter with Trump—were meant to suggest the relationship was not consensual. Judge Juan Merchan denied the mistrial request, but also told prosecutors that “the degree of detail we’re going into here is just unnecessary.”
  • Judge Aileen Cannon—the federal judge overseeing special counsel Jack Smith’s case related to former President Donald Trump’s handling of classified documents—indefinitely postponed the start of that trial on Tuesday over unresolved legal questions regarding access to classified evidence. To move ahead with the scheduled May 20 start date would be “imprudent and inconsistent,” Judge Cannon said in a brief order. It’s unclear when a new trial date might be set. 
  • Former President Donald Trump—the presumptive Republican nominee for president—won Indiana’s Republican primary on Tuesday night with 78 percent of the vote. Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who dropped out of the presidential primary more than two months ago, still garnered some 22 percent of the vote, a total of more than 128,000 votes. Haley has likewise garnered significant vote totals in other primaries where Trump was running uncontested, including 150,000—16 percent of the votes—in the Pennsylvania primary two weeks ago.   

The Veepstakes Heat Up 

Sen. Tim Scott speaks as former President Donald Trump, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, and Vivek Ramaswamy look on during a campaign rally in the basement ballroom of the Margate Resort in Laconia, New Hampshire, on January 22, 2024. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Sen. Tim Scott speaks as former President Donald Trump, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, and Vivek Ramaswamy look on during a campaign rally in the basement ballroom of the Margate Resort in Laconia, New Hampshire, on January 22, 2024. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

In a December 19, 1796, letter to his wife Abigail, John Adams—the first man to serve as vice president—described the role as “the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived or his imagination conceived.” But Adams’ warning hasn’t deterred generations of politicians from seeking the position as an express ticket to their Oval Office dreams. 

Former President Donald Trump’s campaign is deep in the veep selection process, with more than a half-dozen Republican hopefuls looking for the nod. Potential candidates are busy putting on public demonstrations of what seems to be the chief qualification for Trump’s vice president: unquestioning loyalty.

Presidents seeking a second term typically don’t have to search again for a running mate. But ginning up a mob and sending it to the Capitol to pressure your vice president into helping you subvert an election tends to sour relations: Former Vice President Mike Pence said in March that he wouldn’t endorse Trump in this election. 

So Trump’s in the market for a new veep, and he said last week he intends to announce his pick closer to the Republican National Convention in mid-July, in line with historical standards. Even if he’s keeping potential names close to the vest, he seems comfortable publicly discussing the process. “I know who it’s going to be,” Trump claimed during a Fox News town hall in January—but he didn’t reveal to whom he was referring.

In February, Trump nodded along when Fox News’ Laura Ingraham asked him whether former primary opponent and biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, Republican Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida, former Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis were all on his VP shortlist. But it’s difficult to determine how much weight to give Trump’s answer. In September, for example, Trump suggested that none of his primary opponents would get the nod, and in February there were three among his own professed list. 

In 2016, Trump’s vice presidential selection process hewed more closely to conventional political thinking: Pick someone who can help shore up support among some portion of your base. Pence fit the bill, serving as a confidence booster for evangelical Christians hesitant to vote for the thrice-married and twice-divorced Trump who was—and still is—known for cavorting with porn stars and Playboy models. The 2016 edition of the Trump campaign conducted the process with minimal fanfare, although Trump did have potential candidates—including former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich—effectively audition for the role by speaking at rallies before he settled on Pence. 

Eight years later, pageantry has taken center stage in a process that now more resembles a Miss Universe competition than a smoke-filled back room.

Most of the people rumored to be on Trump’s shortlist made appearances at Mar-a-Lago this past weekend. Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, former presidential candidate and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, and Sens. J.D. Vance and Marco Rubio were in attendance, along with Noem, Scott, Donalds, and Ramaswamy. Trump paraded the cadre before wealthy donors at the retreat, and had praise for most of the hopefuls, according to an audio recording of the event obtained by Axios. “As a candidate he did a good job, but as a surrogate he’s unbelievable,” Trump said of Scott, who once stood on a stage with Trump after his own primary defeat and proclaimed his love for the former president. Trump also said Rubio’s “name is coming up a lot for vice president.” 

Once upon a time in the faraway land of 2016, Rubio called his then-primary rival a “con artist” who couldn’t be trusted with the nuclear codes. Trump would less-than-affectionately refer to Rubio as “Little Marco.” 

But now, Rubio says it would be an honor to be offered the veep spot—even if he might have some constitutional trouble. The 12th Amendment prevents a state’s elector from casting ballots for a president and vice president if they both reside in the same state as the elector at the time the ballots are cast. The provision passed in 1804 was intended to prevent electors from simply voting for two “favorite sons” from their home state. To become vice president, Rubio would likely have to resign his Senate seat and take up residence in a new state—unless Trump offers to—or else risk the Republican ticket losing Florida’s Electoral College votes. Rubio has demurred when asked whether he’d be willing to leave the state.

The real proving grounds of this cycle seem to be the cable shows—historically important to the former president. The potential picks are putting themselves in front of cameras, trying to say what they think Trump would like to hear. Burgum appeared on Fox News last week, making the case that billionaires—a blockbuster 813-person strong constituency—should vote for Trump. Burgum himself is a software entrepreneur who sold his company for $1.1 billion in 2000. “If you’re a billionaire and you care about your shareholders, you care about your family, you care about your grandkids, you should be voting for someone that’s going to bring prosperity to America and peace to the world,” Burgum said last Tuesday. “That’s what President Trump is going to do.” 

Aside from effusive praise, the former president is likely paying attention to how potential candidates handle his former running mate’s chief failure, as he sees it: refusing to go along with his attempt to overthrow the election. Stefanik, a member of House Republican leadership, said in February that she “wouldn’t have done what Mike Pence did” on January 6. She also echoed Trump in referring to people convicted of crimes during the Capitol riot as “hostages.”  On Sunday, Burgum repeated Trump’s claims that Democrats are buying votes to win elections, telling CNN’s Jake Tapper, “I think it’s clear that there’s vote-buying going on at a scale like we have never seen before.” (During the Republican primary, Burgum gave out gift cards in exchange for $1 donations to his campaign in an attempt to juice his small-dollar donation figures and make it onto the debate stage.) Burgum did, however, say he believed Biden won the 2020 election.

Scott—asked by NBC News’ Kristen Welker on Sunday why he’d want to join Trump’s ticket given the former president’s lies about the 2020 election—refused to say he’d accept the results of November’s election, though he voted to certify the results of the 2020 election. Vance—one of Trump’s most stalwart allies in the Senate—said last week, “I’m truly skeptical that Mike Pence’s life was ever in danger [on January 6].” 

But questioning election integrity isn’t the only shibboleth. Trump famously cares about people’s TV presentation, choosing hires that are, in his own oft-repeated words, straight out of “central casting.” A few top contenders may have disqualified themselves in this regard. Noem, a Trump loyalist who supported the former president’s 2020 election claims, had been considered by some to be the leading vice-presidential contender. 

Then she published a book that featured apparent lies about meeting the leader of North Korea and a vivid anecdote about shooting Cricket, her 14-month-old puppy she says had behavioral problems, in a roadside gravel pit. She’s defended the latter ad nauseam.

An interview with Newsmax yesterday—a network where Noem might usually expect fawning coverage—captured her fall from grace. “If you asked me a month ago, who’s at the top of the list to run with Trump about a month ago, I would have said your name,” Newsmax host Rob Vinnerty told Noem. “If you asked me that same question this morning, I don’t even think you’re on the list.” Sen. Katie Britt’s vice presidential chances may have followed the same trajectory following her widely panned speech responding to President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address in March.

Unsurprisingly, the former reality TV star has some strong views on style, even if they’re also mercurial. “For Trump, a lot of it is the production value,” Marc Short, Pence’s former chief of staff, said of the 2016 selection process. “If you were up there and made a fool of yourself, it was certainly disqualifying. But you can never upstage him, so it’s a fine line.”

Over the next two months, Trump likely intends to capitalize on the media coverage of his decision-making process. The vice presidential pick likely won’t tip the scales in this election—they rarely do—although whoever Trump picks would at least become a higher-profile surrogate able to criss-cross swing states and take on Biden while the top of the ticket is stuck in court. 

If they did make it to the West Wing of the White House, that “most insignificant” position tends to matter little—until it matters a lot

Worth Your Time

  • Why do conservatives seem to constantly be outfoxed by progressives in Hollywood? “Maybe that’s because most conservatives, at least those rooted in Judeo-Christian traditions, have been taught to tame our emotions and passion with reason,” Jennifer Galardi argued in Law & Liberty. “Progressive films and shows tend to center around simplistic narratives of good and evil that, particularly in our current culture, beat the viewer over the head with some sort of moral or social justice theme. However, conservatives know that there is not one simple narrative capable of encapsulating the complexity of the human soul. … Knowing the truth that all humans, including ourselves, the highest good and the most vile of sin, makes us capable of achieving great feats while maintaining a spirit of humility. Great stories acknowledge this dualistic and fallen aspect of human nature and explore what that looks like acted out in the world—the good, the bad, and the ugly.”
  • National security concerns over TikTok stem from its parent company’s connection to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). But the rise of international hires at ByteDance—including TikTok executives such as its Singaporean CEO Shou Zi Chew—does not mitigate the threat of Chinese influence, Caiwei Chen and Viola Zhou wrote in Rest of World. “More than a dozen current and former U.S.-based TikTok employees who spoke to Rest of World, most of whom requested anonymity for fear of retaliation from the company, say that TikTok’s ties to ByteDance go further than what the company presents,” they reported. “They say ByteDance executives, and not Chew, manage key departments made up of thousands of U.S.-based TikTok employees. … Internally, employees and managers call the company ‘ByteDance’ and ‘TikTok’ interchangeably, as most tech teams work closely with China-based Douyin staffers. A senior TikTok engineer told Rest of World he estimates that the tech teams, which include software engineers, product managers, and user experience designers, have 40% to 60% of their members based in China … However, TikTok teams that interact with American clients, users, and regulatory bodies, according to three current and former employees, have fewer Chinese employees.”

Presented Without Comment

New York Times: [New York City Mayor Eric] Adams Says Rikers, Staffed by ‘Professionals,’ Is Ready for Trump

Also Presented Without Comment

Associated Press: New York Governor Regrets Saying Black Kids in the Bronx Don’t Know What a Computer is

[Gov. Kathy] Hochul, a Democrat, made the extemporaneous comment Monday while being interviewed at a large business conference in California to discuss expanding economic opportunities in artificial intelligence for low-income communities.

“Right now, we have young Black kids growing up in the Bronx who don’t even know what the word computer is. They don’t know, they don’t know these things,” Hochul said while on stage at the Milken Institute Global Conference.

Also Presented Without Comment

The Hill: Kevin Spacey Endorses RFK Jr.

In the Zeitgeist 

This music video for indie group Washed Out’s song, “The Hardest Part,” was created entirely using artificial intelligence and we can tell. 

Toeing the Company Line

  • What chance does Trump have of winning in November? Why is the Washington Post’s reporting on guns bunk? How is the war in Ukraine affecting the wider region? Steve was joined by Politico’s Jonathan Martin, The Reload’s Stephen Gutowski, Kevin, John, and Grayson to discuss all that and more on last night’s Dispatch Live (🔒). Members who missed the conversation can catch a rerun—either video or audio-only—by clicking here
  • On the podcasts: John Podhoretz joined Jonah on The Remnant to discuss the state of Jews in America, the lure of fame, and more. 
  • On the site: Kevin pans the Washington Post’s Pulitzer Prize-winning series on guns in America, Joseph Polidoro explains where all those cicadas are coming from, and Jonah wonders if we’ve passed peak wokeness. 

Let Us Know

Who do you think Trump should pick as his vice president? Who do you think he will pick?

Mary Trimble is the editor of The Morning Dispatch and is based in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining the company in 2023, she interned at The Dispatch, in the political archives at the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po), and at Voice of America, where she produced content for their French-language service to Africa. When not helping write The Morning Dispatch, she is probably watching classic movies, going on weekend road trips, or enjoying live music with friends.

Grayson Logue is the deputy editor of The Morning Dispatch and is based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Prior to joining the company in 2023, he worked in political risk consulting, helping advise Fortune 50 companies. He was also an assistant editor at Providence Magazine and is a graduate student at the University of Edinburgh, pursuing a Master’s degree in history. When Grayson is not helping write The Morning Dispatch, he is probably working hard to reduce the number of balls he loses on the golf course.

Peter Gattuso is a reporter for The Morning Dispatch, based in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining the company in 2024, he interned at The Dispatch, National Review, the Cato Institute, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute. When Peter is not helping write TMD, he is probably watching baseball, listening to music on vinyl records, or discussing the Jones Act.