At this point in the 2024 presidential election cycle, it appears that former President Donald Trump will win the Republican nomination without breaking a sweat or participating even in a single primary debate.
Then, after the first of the year, if Trump wins the early primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina — he leads in all three with a poll average of around 30 percentage points — then expect a quick shift to the new question: “Whom will Trump choose as his vice president?” Since the 22nd Amendment states that “No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice,” that question has political implications beyond the usual drama.
Should Trump win in 2024, his vice president will instantly become the leading GOP candidate for 2028. Furthermore, potentially halfway through his term, Trump will turn 80. Given the vice president’s most crucial role in case of emergency, his running mate will thus enhance or detract from the ticket.
It is common political knowledge that Trump loves to dominate the news cycle, foster chaos, and demand loyalty. He also wants to win the White House to avenge his 2020 loss and punish his enemies. Therefore, his running mate must bring significant assets to the ticket — similar to 2016, when then-Indiana Gov. Mike Pence helped deliver droves of evangelical voters somewhat skeptical of Trump’s political and personal history.
Considering the above, here are five reasons why Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) could be Trump’s running mate.
1. Stefanik is fighting for Trump in his New York civil fraud trial.
Playing to an audience of one, Stefanik is waging a media battle against Judge Arthur Engoron as he presides over Trump’s $250 million business fraud trial, starting with an ethics complaint against him.
In a letter to the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct — notably absent her congressional title — she wrote that Judge Engoron broke “several rules” in the judicial conduct code. Stefanik also called on Engoron to resign since he had shown “inappropriate bias and judicial intemperance.”
The former president highly respects aggressive, Trumpian behavior and legal maneuvering, for which he is famous. Stefanik is thus scoring touchdowns in the VP playoffs. And she did not stop there. Again, without her title, seeking more Trump accolades and media attention, she added to her previous ethics complaint, tweeting out: “Today, I’m supplementing my ethics complaint against Judge Engoron with examples of even more of his egregious misconduct after he just wrongly dismissed President Trump’s motion for a mistrial.”
With this trial maneuvering, it appears that Stefanik is playing to win the Trump “Super Bowl,” but there is more.
2. Stefanik has a history as an unabashed Trump loyalist.
Stefanik, aware that extreme loyalty is Trump’s sweet spot, preemptively endorsed Trump for the GOP nomination more than a year ago, days ahead of his official Nov. 15, 2022 announcement. She frequently races to the microphones to defend him with her measured, articulate speaking style — not a bombastic firebrand in the mold of Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, but like a reliable long-stemmed Bic lighter.
The depth of the Trump/Stefanik loyalty partnership was displayed this September when he consulted with her about the impending Biden impeachment inquiry. “Trump and Stefanik spoke shortly after McCarthy made the announcement,” The Hill reported. But most telling was Stefanik’s comment: “I speak to President Trump a lot.”
Her “brand” as the former president’s partner on Capitol Hill is just one more reason she would make sense on his ticket.
3. She turns 40 in 2024 and already has political credentials.
In September on NBC’s Meet the Press, Trump said he liked “the concept” of a female running-mate. Enter Stefanik, the House Republican Conference chairwoman since 2021. She was first woman elected to Congress from northern New York at age 30 in 2014, and the youngest woman ever elected to the House at the time. As a young, accomplished woman, a graduate of Harvard, who is Catholic and married with one child, Trump might think that Stefanik on his ticket could attract more of the educated suburban female voters he lost to Biden in 2020.
Moreover, considering his own advanced age, their 38-year age difference could be an asset.
4. Stefanik would not overshadow Trump.
Stefanik is a media magnet, but she is not a wild-card attention seeker. On a Trump ticket, Stefanik would know her place and try never to overshadow him. She would likely study how former Vice President Mike Pence faded into the background (with the notable exception of Jan. 6, 2021). Whether Trump lost or won in 2024, vice presidential nominee Stefanik would strategically play the 2028 long game as the future post-Trump leader of the Republican Party.
5. She could articulate and normalize Trump’s second-term plans.
The harsh rhetoric of Trump’s second-term plans and policies will need someone more knowledgeable in policy. Someone like Stefanik could soften what might otherwise sound like a coming authoritarian presidency. Stefanik, young but tough, loyal, and intelligent, might be perceived by Team Trump as a safe, “normal” veep choice in what is likely to be an abnormal campaign, possibly foreshadowing the angriest administration in U.S. history.
Is she qualified to step into the presidency if circumstances dictate? The appropriate answer is another question: Was Trump qualified when elected in 2016? Was newly-minted Sen. Barack Obama qualified in 2008? Only voters can answer that.
Myra Adams served on the creative team of two GOP presidential campaigns, in 2004 and 2008.
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