Trump’s Shortlist of VP Picks All Have One Thing in Common

Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty
Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Getty
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Donald Trump’s third bid for the presidency has thus far been uncharacteristically sleepy, but confidants are hoping that floating names for a hypothetical running mate can awaken Trump and snap his campaign out of its slumber.

While the former president’s campaign has yet to make many hires in early primary states—or even leave the state of Florida to do any actual campaigning—Trump and his inner circle have been tossing around names for an entirely premature veepstakes, according to two sources that have spoken to Trump as well as a GOP strategist familiar with the conversations.

And the one common thread among Trump’s imagined running mates? They’re all women.

So far, Trumpworld has been bandying about the names of Reps. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), along with a third contender who has already begun to rankle corners of Trumpworld: Tulsi Gabbard.

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The Fox News contributor and former Democratic congresswoman has caught Trump’s eye in her appearances on the network, according to the Trump confidant, mainly when she filled in for top-rated host Tucker Carlson.

While the Gabbard chatter has all the hallmarks of a Trumpian trial balloon and immediately befuddled some of the MAGA faithful, it’s less of a surprise for longtime Tulsi supporters.

Eric Jackman, a friend of Gabbard’s and one of her earliest 2020 campaign surrogates in New Hampshire, said it was just as common to hear independent voters pine for a Trump-Gabbard ticket as it was for others to envision her on the ticket with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

Jackman added that Gabbard’s background would resonate with a lot of younger and more independent voters who were looking for someone “who is of the 9/11 generation, served in the military and would be very hesitant to offer advice to a commander-in-chief to go invade or overthrow another country.”

He said he would be open to Gabbard being on the ticket with Trump or another Republican, depending on the Democratic nominee.

“Me, speaking personally, I’d love to see her at the top of the ticket,” Jackman said. “But if it meant her at the top of the ticket with another Republican—yeah, you know, my experience is people who are Tulsi Gabbard supporters are very past partisan politics, they don’t like partisanship, they don’t like to be pinned down by a label.”

One GOP strategist compared Trump picking Gabbard to President Biden dumping Vice President Kamala Harris in favor of a unity ticket with former GOP Reps. Liz Cheney or Adam Kinzinger.

“Sure, they stand up for you on a couple issues, but they hate you on everything else,” the strategist said. “Cool, but let’s not give away the farm here.”

Stefanik allies point to her loyalty to Trump through both impeachments, the Jan. 6 insurrection, and her endorsement of his 2024 campaign. They pointed out that she was the first to endorse Trump for 2024 among congressional GOP leadership.

But the unofficial shortlist, about two years from election day, isn’t exactly short.

Other politicians in the mix include South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, the GOP strategist familiar with the conversations said, although both remain on the periphery. While Lake has the ability to turn any conversation around to focus on the election conspiracy theories, her Trumpworld critics says she lacks concrete leadership experience and appeal to moderate voters.

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The strategist added that it’s no accident Trump is only considering women at this point.

“You have to think about how you win suburban women and how you win battleground districts,” the GOP operative said.

Another Trump adviser warned that Greene could have the ability to outshine Trump, particularly in her ability to connect with the base, often eliciting more applause from MAGA rally crowds than any other introductory speaker.

“She’s been characterized as Trump in heels,” a Trumpworld source said. As to Greene and Trump’s relationship, a source said they speak “all the time,” which was supported by the congresswoman holding up her phone with the former president on the line during the final tense vote for Kevin McCarthy as speaker on the House floor last week.

That said, becoming a close McCarthy ally has come at a cost, as right-wing pundits have begun attacking Greene with sexist insults, most notably radio host Sebastian Gorka, who recently retweeted a video that suggested Greene was in a sexual relationship with McCarthy. (Reached for comment, Gorka failed to address questions and instead fired off a personal insult directed at a Daily Beast reporter.) A video suggesting a relationship between Greene and McCarthy (R-CA), retweeted by Gorka, caught the eye of many in Trumpworld, who wondered why he was targeting Greene, a staunch Trump defender.

“Her style is just like Trump,” the same Trumpworld source said, adding Greene remains willing to confront opposition from both her left and far-right critics.

Greene’s positioning within Trump’s inner circle has only prospered in the former president’s post-presidential tenure bunkering down at Mar-a-Lago. She has become a fixture at his MAGA rallies, with the congresswoman often lingering in the press pen to give exclusive interviews to Right Side Broadcasting, a YouTube channel that streams the rallies in their entirety to an audience of 1.57 million subscribers.

Back in August, Trump hosted the congresswoman and Fox News kingpin Tucker Carlson at his Bedminster club to watch a LIV golf tournament. According to a source present at the event, while Trump was with Greene, the chant ‘MTG for VP’ broke out.

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“What Trump learned is you can’t pick Pence and Haleys who are the establishment,” the GOP strategist said.

A Trump campaign spokesperson didn’t return multiple Daily Beast requests for comment.

But out-Trumping Trump isn’t necessarily one of the job requirements, either.

“You don’t need MAGA—he’s MAGA,” the strategist said. “You need someone who is loyal, someone who can fundraise, and someone who can help you win swing states.”

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