VP Apprentice: Who Will Be The Donald Trump’s Running Mate?

President Trump is the Republican Party’s nominee for the 2024 general election all but in name.

He swept Iowa, taking 98 of the Hawkeye State’s 99 counties, and followed that route with a near-clean sweep of New Hampshire, enough to knockout both Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy in one fell swoop (who both endorsed President Trump) while putting Nikki Haley’s campaign on life-support.

As the momentum surrounding President Trump grows, even as radical judges and district attorneys in states like New York and Georgia double down on their baseless political persecution of the 45th President, Republican officials are finally catching up with the grassroots in coming to terms with a fact they knew from day one: Donald Trump will not only be the GOP nominee but also the 47th President of the United States.

As a result, there has been a noticeable mad dash among certain Republicans to give soft auditions, whether through a primetime cable news spot or in a stump speech on the campaign trail, to make their not-so-subtle pitch for the vaunted Vice-Presidential post.

Vivek Ramaswamy and Tim Scott, for example, are two names often floated by conservative pundits as potential choices.  Both were observed alongside Trump campaigning in New Hampshire.  Other rumored prospects, such as Kari Lake, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Matt Gaetz, have all been seen in recent weeks campaigning with the President in states like Iowa, New Hampshire, and even Nevada – attempting to maximize their facetime on the campaign trail and on television to ingratiate themselves with their party’s frontrunner.

Given that the proverbial “Vice Presidential race” appears to be heating up, I thought I would use the opportunity to offer some thoughts on several names people have been discussing as possible VP material.

None of these names are part of any official list – and this is not coming from someone who works for the Trump campaign.  I should also reiterate that I have made no secrets about who I think would be President Trump’s ideal running-mate: Tucker Carlson, a subject I have tackled at pretty good length already here and here.

Tucker is again included on the list of names below, after he recently delivered remarks before a jam-packed Hockey arena in Edmonton, Canada in front of an audience of thousands of devoted fans.

A few names on this list are probably not even in contention but have only been listed because they have stirred up the rumor mill, and as a result have many people talking, rightly or wrongly, about their chances of being selected.

It should also be stressed that this list is far from being exhaustive: there is the likelihood that several notable omissions – such as Kristi Noem – might well be strong contenders and have greater odds than even some of the names listed here.

All that said, these names routinely come up in political chatter and so, are worth discussing – for good and ill – regardless of their status as legitimate contenders or longshots:

Vivek Ramaswamy

Photo: Vivek Ramaswamy” by Gage Skidmore

Vivek Ramaswamy has gone from an unknown Big Pharma bro to MAGA luminary after running, in his own words, as one of just two America First candidates in the 2024 presidential election. While his longshot campaign ended as expected – Ramaswamy dropped out after a disappointing fourth place showing in Iowa, and then quickly endorsed Donald Trump afterward – he has demonstrated a commitment to the cause and principles of America First, and so far, appears genuinely interested in righting the course of this country.

Some concerns remain about his background, his fortune, and even his citizenship – adding to the quirks that sometimes irritated the Trump base, such as overtalking at times and making absurd statements here and there, like his proclamation he made before dropping out that only he could win the general election.

All that said, however, of the America First-adjacent politicos and personalities not named Trump, I would probably rank Ramaswamy third, behind Kari Lake and Tucker Carlson, in my overall MAGA power rankings.

The fact that he was a self-made billionaire before reaching 40 is impressive; the fact that he relentlessly spurns the catechism of wokeism and offshoot policies like DEI and affirmative action and has witheringly indicted them for what they are: anti-white, reverse racism – is bold and admirable.

His youth and elite education background (Harvard undergrad; Yale Law School) accords him the benefits of being more in tune with the magnitude of these problems, and how they have eroded away the American Dream for younger generations (particularly young men of legacy American families), than most, if not virtually all, other major party candidates.

Perhaps most promising, unlike the doom and gloom mentality of so many on the Right, one that seems irrevocably in thrall to a fetishistic dogma that America’s decline is irreversible – Ramaswamy has, maybe naively, bucked the trend and offered a radical alternative: one that is positive, vibrant, youthful, and audaciously asserts that rather than being a geriatric patient, the republic is merely going through the growing pains of adolescence, still being a young country after all compared to rest of the Western world.

Ramaswamy’s recent campaign appearances on behalf of President Trump, and his endorsement of Kari Lake for the Arizona Senate, suggests that his heart is committed to this movement for the long run – even if he also happens to be growing his already considerable fortune in the process.

He is also correct to regularly invoke the principles of the American Revolution and proclaim them as natural truths – truths that seem so radical when extrapolated to our age of mass lies and deception.

All of which is to say: Ramaswamy might ultimately prove himself a worthy voice in the movement Trump launched.  Perhaps he is not to be entrusted just yet with the lofty post of second in command but might over time prove himself to be a reliable, and powerful, truthteller – one that could rise above the trenchant mediocrity of our ruling class and become a mainstay in the movement for hopefully many years to come.

If it were up to me, I think Ramaswamy’s talents should first be tested at arm’s length– Ronna McDaniel’s replacement as RNC Chair would be an ideal fit.  Such a post could be the ultimate telltale of whether he can turn an organization, now struggling mightily to raise money, around – and, by extension, use the influence of that post to get state Republican leaders, many of whom only support the cause out of political convenience, in lockstep with MAGA, which must become the establishment for the GOP if both party and country are to have any hope at all of surviving beyond the next four years of President Trump’s next term.

Lee Zeldin

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Lee Zeldin has the longest odds of all the candidates listed here – and for good reason.  The former Long Island congressman who went down in defeat to Kathy Hochul in the 2022 gubernatorial race has been making an obnoxiously strong push for the VP role, notably appearing on CNN to make his not-so-subtle pitch during the New Hampshire primary – and using social media to garner up additional publicity, allegedly feeding pro-Trump mouthpieces with the baseless narrative that he had already been picked to be Trump’s VP.

Last week, the rumor mill went into overdrive when former Trump administration official, Sebastian Gorka, strongly hinted that Zeldin had been given the nod, a rumor that was further entertained by other big conservative influencers, such as Pat Bet-David.

However, it was put on a screeching halt when longtime Trump confidante, Roger Stone, tweeted “Lee Zeldin has not been picked as Trump’s VP. Anyone who says otherwise has no idea what he’s talking about.”

While the four-term congressman formerly of NY-01 is an interesting prospect, it is not obvious why, if Trump was looking for a New Yorker, he would tap Zeldin over Stefanik, who served in congress for a longer duration, has been a much more outspoken Trump ally throughout the years, and ascended to a much higher position in the House of Representatives, as Chair of the House Republican Conference, than Zeldin ever did.

Trump also likes choosing winners with experience in their pedigrees: while nobody will deny Zeldin’s impressive showing in the 2022 gubernatorial race, he did come out 6.4 points short to one of the most unpopular governors in the country.

In that race, Zeldin was not even the most MAGA candidate – a label which belonged to Andrew Giuliani.  While Zeldin claims to be loyal to Trump on the campaign trail, some concerns arise about his true convictions.

For example, while on the campaign trail for governor he reportedly told donors on Wall Street – the same donors who later backed Ron DeSantis and currently, Nikki Haley for president – that while he did not certify Biden’s election results, he never said the results of the 2020 race were “illegitimate.”

More concerning is the fact that Zeldin’s former Long Island delegation remains stridently anti-Trump: a group that includes RINO congressmen Mike Lawler, Andrew Garbarino, and Anthony D’Esposito, with whom Zeldin reportedly retains friendly and close relations.  (Another holdout, Nick Lalota, only recently begrudgingly endorsed Donald Trump on January 20th.)

Even though Zeldin is no longer in elected office, being one of the most powerful and recognizable Republicans in New York State, one would think that he would certainly have some sway in getting these Long Island RINOs in line with the MAGA movement.

To dates, none of these Republicans have endorsed President Trump; Zeldin, for his part, has not called any of them out for it.  As recently as late last year, former Long Island congressman Peter King, who, despite being out of Congress for several years now, remains a kingmaker on Long Island, stated flatly that Nikki Haley will be the Republican nominee.

Zeldin has not denounced King, or any of the Republican holdouts in the New York delegation who have still not endorsed President Trump – and reportedly are conspiring actively behind the scenes to manipulate the New York State Presidential delegate process, which is fully controlled by State Party leaders, to reduce the number of delegates Trump receives at the convention.

Moreover, the anti-Trump sentiment of downstate party leaders goes beyond federal lawmakers: both the Nassau County and Suffolk County chairmen, whom Zeldin has in the past had warm relations with, remain shamelessly anti-Trump, and have only backed candidates with equally shameless Trump Derangement Syndrome, such as Mazi Pilip, the former liberal Democrat and IDF officer, now making a bid for George Santos’ former seat in NY-03.

Pilip has stated that she won’t back Trump if he’s convicted of a crime, mimicking liberal talking heads on CNN and MSNBC by declaring “nobody is above the law.”

Instead of focusing on how to maximize Trump’s delegates and, for that matter, registered voters across New York States, State Party Leaders are focusing all their time and resources on getting another RINO re-elected to Congress, one whose public statements make clear that she will not be loyal to President Trump if she is elected to office.

Long Island Republican voters, in both Nassau and Suffolk County, are extremely pro-Trump: so, the idea that Party officials would nominate another RINO, rather than a MAGA warrior to represent the interests of their constituents, deserves to be called out in the strongest of terms – something that Zeldin has refused to do.

Rather than denouncing the indictments for the political prosecutions they so blatantly are, a view shared by the overwhelming majority of regular Republican voters all throughout New York State, but especially Long Island, Republicans officials statewide have been deluded by TDS, prioritizing their political interests above their constituents.

As both party establishments literally run New York State to the ground, Zeldin, whose voice could be a strong counterforce, has been blatantly missing in action.

He has not called out New York Republican State Committee Chairman, Ed Cox, who seems to be giving the anti-Trump marching orders for the rest of the state; nor has he attempted to mobilize downstate Republicans to rally behind Donald Trump.

He has not even, to my knowledge, filed an ethics complaint against any of the judges, D.A.’s, attorney general, or governor for flagrantly violating the Constitution with their political hatchet job against the 45th President, much as Elise Stefanik has so valiantly done.

All of which is to say, so far as Lee Zeldin represents himself to the public as a Trump loyalist and MAGA warrior, his record is left extremely wanting.  Zeldin absolutely must back up his words with real-world actions, otherwise risk being seen as another grifter, merely capitalizing on the Trump name when politically expedient to do so, while failing to use the influence of his bully pulpit to get corrupt party leaders in downstate New York in check.

Instead of soft-campaigning for VP, Zeldin’s talents would be better allocated cleaning up his own backyard.  He should use the leverage he has to help force out Republican Party hacks across New York State from their posts, and work on creating a broader coalition that is robustly and proudly pro-MAGA and pro-Donald Trump to reclaim those state party offices, and finally get the establishment in line with the grassroots, whose interests are being flouted by those who now hold the reins of power in New York.

Elise Stefanik

Photo: Elise Stefanik/Facebook

Elise Stefanik is probably another longshot candidate, though perhaps not as much of a longshot as Lee Zeldin.  The current House Republican Conference Chair has represented New York’s 21st district, a mostly rural region that includes a large chunk of land in northwestern New York, since 2015 – and has quickly ascended the ranks as one of the most powerful voices in Congress, not just for the MAGA movement, but among Republicans overall.

She has also proven to be a prolific fundraiser for the 45th President; her team raised over $5 million in the fourth quarter of 2023 alone, and has hosted several fundraisers at Trump properties across New York State, such as his Westchester Golf Club, over the past couple of years.

Stefanik, unlike so many within her party – and especially within the New York State Republican delegation – was one of the first elected Republicans – in state or federal office – to endorse Trump and was the earliest to do so among the high-ranking congressional leaders, when she backed the 45th President way back in November 2022.

The feat is seen as all the more remarkable given that some members within her own state party delegation, such as Mike Lawler, Andrew Garbarino, and Anthony D’Esposito, are stubbornly holding out through the present day, even though the race has dwindled to two candidates – and one of them, Nikki Haley, has no viable pathway to the presidency.

While it may be argued that Stefanik could be doing more to support Trump – such as rallying her state coalition, many of whom remain holdouts, and in particular, putting the public pressure on Ed Cox, the anti-Trump New York State Party kingpin, to either get in line or retire – she has at least taken measures that have gone above and beyond where feckless New York lawmakers would never dare to go, such as lodging an ethics complaint against Judge Engoron, who is presiding over President Trump’s sham civil trial that threatens to dissolve his entire business empire, for abusing his power and running roughshod over constitutional due process.

But given the level of the opposition she faces, Stefanik has done an admirable job in staying true to the MAGA party line: she did not vote to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election, and, unlike Zeldin, continues to maintain that election’s results were rife with fraud and corruption, rendering them in a word that Zeldin refuses to use: illegitimate.

That makes Stefanik a far worthy choice among New York Republicans for the vice-presidential office: President Trump seems to genuinely admire the loyalty she has displayed over the years, too.

For that, she should be awarded – perhaps not with the second-in-command post, but at the bare minimum with a cabinet position, maybe, for all her efforts over the years.

Rand Paul

Photo: Gage Skidmore

Rand Paul made waves early last month when he made the somewhat bizarre decision to, rather than endorse one of the Republican primary contenders, instead launch a “Never Nikki” website.

In tandem with the website’s launch, which is devoted to raising awareness about how dangerous the preferred candidate of Washington’s military-industrial complex would be, Senator Paul declared, “As I look over the GOP candidates for President, I don’t yet have a first choice. But I do know one thing: count me in as #NeverNikki!”

In the video accompanying the announcement, he raised concerns about Haley’s inability to grasp a fundamental principle of James Madison: the importance of preserving our constitutional right to privacy in an age of mass surveillance, a right that Haley has openly professed expendable in the interest of “natural security” – which has been used to justify everything from the failed Iraq invasion to the Patriot Act and the gradual encroachment on individual liberties that has entered overdrive under Biden.

At the time Senator Paul released the video, DeSantis and Ramaswamy had not yet dropped out.  Notwithstanding the unlikely event of Senator Paul crossing the aisle and supporting Robert Kennedy, for whom he had some positive words, the only non-Haley candidate left in the race is Donald Trump.

Thus, by default, Senator Paul will likely soon be endorsing the 45th President’s re-election campaign.  Senator Paul has been a longstanding voice in the United States Senate for individual liberty and non-interventionism.

While not an isolationist, the Kentucky Senator has stressed caution where his colleagues went headlong, without a second thought, in favor of military intervention in places like the Ukraine and the Middle East.

He is a rare voice of pragmatism in an arena of hawks, which puts him more than ever in lockstep with his war-weary countrymen, who would prefer our priorities switch from overseas to the homeland, which has been ravaged by inflation, deindustrialization, open borders, high crime and lawlessness, and opioid addiction.

The American people are vying for a dramatic course correction, and Senator Paul has often been a rare voice of reason, if an occasional thorn in the side of MAGA on issues like border security owing to his libertarian streak, lost in a sea of chaos.

In that regard, among members of the Senate, few others outpace what Senator Paul can bring to the table in resume and temperament for the Vice-Presidential post.

He has experience where other populist-adjacent Senators, such as J.D. Vance and Josh Hawley, are comparatively lacking – and has been around long enough to demonstrate his overall loyalty to the MAGA cause, even if his stubborn independence from time to time puts him at odds with both the movement and President Trump on a few key issues like immigration and policing.

All in all, among members of Congress, few others could match the package the junior senator from The Bluegrass State, a post Senator Paul has held since 2011, brings to the table, and thus would be a worthy pick for Vice President.

Ben Carson

Photo: Gage Skidmore

Ben Carson, the mild-mannered Housing and Urban Development Secretary under President Trump’s first term, gets the distinction of being one of the few cabinet secretaries who has remained loyal to Trump through his entire tenure in office, including through the rigged 2020 election, and subsequent impeachments and political prosecution by the Biden deep state.

That is a distinction that rightly merits praise, and at the bare minimum, the reward of returning to the next Trump administration in a cabinet post. Carson’s steadfast loyalty, and amiable character puts him at sharp odds with most of the rest of Washington, a cutthroat city replete with politicians who say one thing in public while knifing those to whom they profess loyalty behind closed doors.

Carson has been pro-Trump and pro-MAGA since the very beginning, and continues to tow a socially conservative, fiscally responsible agenda in media and campaign trail appearances with the 45th President.

Carson has been dependable, even if his demeanor at times may be critiqued for being too serene in an age that requires some degree of ruthlessness in order to get anything done.

The great worry about Carson is not so much that he would be disloyal – he hits the nail on the head on the key issues – election integrity, immigration, an America First economic policy – but that, if he were to ascend to the Presidency, that he would lack the temperament and skillset for the nation’s highest post.

After all, when asked in a recent interview about the most important requirement for the Vice-Presidential office, President Trump said someone who was capable of carrying out the duties of President of the United States.

If Trump, however, is looking for someone who will remain loyal – and not, for example, try to plot to establish himself as the 45th President’s successor, Carson may be the guy, because he is not someone who seems incredibly ambitious for higher office, and may, in that regard, serve dutifully as second-in-command and then quietly retire into the sunset once his term his complete.

Tucker Carlson

Photo: Gage Skidmore

Tucker Carlson has been my top pick for Vice-President because on every box for an ideal choice – loyalty, faithfulness to the cause, succession – he checks them off in spades.

Carlson recently hosted a speaking event in Canada, where he sold out an entire Hockey arena, demonstrating a stardom that mirrors that of the 45th President, one that has not diminished in the months since he left his vaunted position at Fox News, where he was the most watched show across cable news by significant margins.

Since founding his own media company, Tucker has continued to make the rounds across both the United States, and the world over, interviewing foreign leaders and diplomats, while spotlighting important political and social developments in countries, like Spain, Canada, and Hungary, that have had similar populist uprisings against increasingly tyrannical ruling classes much like our own.

During the Trump era, Carlson underwent a noticeable shift in ideology – becoming decisively less libertarian, for which he had been known in the past, and far more populist and nationalist, much like the 45th President.

Though some may chalk this up to opportunism, Carlson has demonstrated time and again a fearlessness in tackling issues, such as military non-intervention, the threat of a weaponized national security state, and the deprivation of liberties by the federal government at home, that few, if any other politicians are willing to say out loud.

In that regard, he can offer – in addition to fealty to the 45th President’s agenda, protection against their mutual enemies – who would likely think twice before pulling any tricks on Trump, knowing who the second-in-command is.

Carlson’s lack of formal political experience is less of a liability nowadays and may even be a strength in a certain respect.  The fact that Trump himself already has four years under his belt serving as President mitigates those concerns of inexperience – which, when compared with Biden’s 50+ years of experience in Washington, should be considered an asset.

Outsiders are preferable to insiders, and with Carlson, there is far less of a threat than picking an established politician that he would choose a staff of Washington hacks, who might threaten to undermine the White House from within – like what Pence’s staff did during the first Trump term.

Carlson has spent decades in Washington, D.C.; he understands how the Swamp works as well as most seasoned political professionals.  It is this experience that makes his critiques of the blob that much more impactful.

Though Trump may be aptly reticent to pair that much star power – between himself and Carlson – together on a single ticket, I think doing so would not only send a powerful message to the DC Swamp that they mean business, but moreover, create the most attractive option for ordinary voters – many of whom can be swayed easily by the fancies of celebrity, as we have recently seen with the Taylor Swift fiasco.

The Democrats are undoubtedly going to use their connections in Hollywood and the media to woo, especially young voters, with the intrigues of pop culture.

A Trump ticket that responds to that call with a powerful pairing of two political and media superstars may be what is needed to offset that inherent disadvantage Republicans generally have with the mainstream culture and gin up the requisite popular support to make Trump’s victory in November a resounding one.  That is why, hands down, Tucker Carlson would make the best choice for Vice President, in this author’s humble opinion.

Paul Ingrassia is a Constitutional Scholar; a two-time Claremont Fellow, and is on the Board of Advisors of the New York Young Republican Club and the Italian American Civil Rights LeagueHe writes a widely read Substack that is regularly posted on Truth Social by President Trump. Follow him on X @PaulIngrassiaSubstackTruth SocialInstagram, and Rumble.

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