Who's on Trump's running mate shortlist and what his decision will tell us – PBS NewsHour

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Who's on Trump's running mate shortlist and what his decision will tell us – PBS NewsHour

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Former President Donald Trump says he will choose a running mate in the next few weeks and will likely unveil his nominee at a major turning point in the campaign. Lisa Desjardins has been covering the Trump campaign and reports on what his decision will tell us.
Notice: Transcripts are machine and human generated and lightly edited for accuracy. They may contain errors.
Geoff Bennett:
Former President Donald Trump says he will choose a running mate in the next few weeks and will likely unveil his pick at a major turning point in the campaign.
Donald Trump, Former President of the United States (R) and Current U.S. Presidential Candidate: I think I will announce who that person’s going to be during the convention. I think that’s pretty normal. During the convention, it’ll be an interesting period of time.
Geoff Bennett:
Our Lisa Desjardins has been covering the Trump campaign and joins us now to talk more about this.
So, Lisa, based on your reporting, who seems to be under consideration?
Lisa Desjardins:
Well, this is basically a political reality show from a man who starred in a reality show.
And, first, let’s start with who Trump is naming, because he is dropping a lot of names.
Donald Trump:
Tim Scott, he has been much better for me than he was for himself. I watched his campaign.
Donald Trump:
And he doesn’t like talking about himself, but, boy, does he talk about Trump.
Doug Burgum has been incredible, and the country is lucky to have him.
You could take people like Ben Carson. You could take people like Marco Rubio, J.D. Vance. I mean, there are so many. Elise is doing a fantastic job.
Lisa Desjardins:
Elise Stefanik there.
Now let’s talk about what’s really happening here. I want to look at the kind of group of names that’s been most in circulation the last month-and-a-half, probably 10 names. There’s people who come in and out. But in the last few weeks, we know two of those names have essentially dropped off, Kari Lake there at the bottom and Kristi Noem.
So let’s focus on these eight. My reporting is that the Trump campaign has asked these eight people for paperwork to try and vet them to be potential vice presidential running mates.
Now, as you will notice, most of these are current lawmakers. And I want to highlight four of them, in particular, the four on the top row, North Dakota’s Doug Burgum, Marco Rubio, the senator from Florida, Tim Scott, Senator of South Carolina, J.D. Vance, U.S. senator from Ohio.
Now, these four, my understanding is, are the ones that are getting the most attention from the Trump campaign right now. But here’s the thing. It’s Donald Trump. He wants everyone to keep guessing, including the people who are in the mix. He likes that. That’s part of the point of this, so really no decision made.
And that means anybody could really still be the selection, but that’s where he’s been focusing.
Geoff Bennett:
How are Donald Trump and the campaign, how are they trying to arrive at this decision? What are they looking at, in particular?
Lisa Desjardins:
Well, the former president himself says, number one, he wants someone who would be a good president. He said that in interviews.
But when you talk to his team and you talk to those around him, number one after that is loyalty. No surprise. The situation with Mike Pence, where Mike Pence stood up for the duly elected coming into office President Biden and rejected what President Trump wanted him to do is key in Trump’s mind.
He wants someone who will be loyal to him. He also wants something — he’s doing something that’s not traditional here. He’s not thinking in terms of which parts of the base can he animate, which, again, is part of the reason that Mike Pence was brought on with evangelicals. Trump and their campaign are not worried about the base.
The one thing they are thinking about in terms of electoral strategy is someone who will have a good matchup with Vice President Kamala Harris in a debate and in general. They think that she is a weaker part of the Biden/Harris campaign. They want to expose that.
So this is what they’re thinking about. But, in general, part of it is a casting aspect. He wants someone who looks good beside him and who has a name that looks good next to him. One person I talked to even said, that may be a disadvantage for, like, Elise Stefanik, having a long last name. It might sound ridiculous, but these are actual considerations.
Geoff Bennett:
What are the potential candidates doing and saying now? And give us a sense of why that might be significant.
Lisa Desjardins:
Well, since early May, we have seen kind of a parade of candidates attending Trump events.
There was a fund-raiser at Mar-a-Lago in early May where we saw Marco Rubio show up. We have seen candidates, who now we know are candidates, go to the Trump court cases in New York, for example. Those kinds of things have been standing out. It’s an open competition.
And that aspect of it, in some ways, is something historians say is novel here. We haven’t seen this in a while. We spoke to one expert, Joel Goldstein. He’s an expert in the vice presidency, who says this is raising a lot of questions for him about how this will work.
Joel Goldstein, St. Louis University School of Law: One of the ideas that Walter Mondale had was that the role of the vice president should be in part to talk truth to power, to tell the president things that he or she didn’t want to hear.
And yet, if you have a process that really encourages people to be obsequious, it really undercuts that important purpose of the vice presidency as it’s developed and evolved.
Lisa Desjardins:
And this, in a way — while this whole thing is speculation, this, in a way, is why we’re focusing on this right now, because this isn’t just fawning. We know this has very great significance for the future, especially if Trump is reelected.
And if you pay attention to what some of these candidates for vice president are saying, they’re talking about their loyalty to Trump in ways different with themselves in the past on very important issues, including whether the 2020 election had fraud in it or not.
So I want to take us through something unusual, a series of sound bites when some of these candidates were asked about what they think about our democracy and specifically about this coming election, whether they think that it will be secure or — and also the past election.
Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH):
I think that Donald Trump will be the victory. And if it’s a free and fair election, Dana, I think every Republican will enthusiastically accept the results. And, again, I think those results will show that Donald Trump has been elected president.
Kristen Welker, Moderator, “Meet the Press”: Will you accept the election results of 2024, no matter what happens, Senator?
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL):
No matter what happens? No, if it’s an unfair election, I think it’s going to be contested by either inside.
Kristen Welker:
No matter who wins. Senator, no matter who wins.
Sen. Marco Rubio:
Well, why don’t you — I think you’re asking the wrong person. The Democrats are the ones that have opposed every Republican victory since 2000, every single one.
Jonathan Karl, ABC News:
He still hasn’t accepted the results of the election.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR):
Jon, he says, and I agree, that the election was not fair, that it was rigged in many ways, with Democratic states and cities changing election law and election practices up to the last minute.
Kaitlan Collins, CNN Host:
Had you been vice president on January 6, 2021, what would you have done?
Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY):
I stood up for the Constitution. I believe it was…
Kaitlan Collins:
No, what would you have done if you were vice president?
Rep. Elise Stefanik:
I would not have done what Mike Pence did. I don’t think that was the right approach.
Lisa Desjardins:
As they’re being vetted behind the scenes, these are very important public signals that they are sending to Trump that we need to watch.
Geoff Bennett:
Lastly, Lisa, what’s the timeline for this decision? We heard the former president say he’s going to make this announcement during the convention?
Lisa Desjardins:
I mean, we’re used to some really strange calendars last couple of years. This is another one.
Let’s look at what’s ahead. So, today, June 7, that’s where we’re going to start. And then let’s talk about the next big event for the Republican Party, July 15. That’s the Republican Convention in Milwaukee. That’s 38 days.
So, if the former president announces his nominee then at the convention, let’s take a look at what’s ahead. Those two dates that you’re going to see in yellow, July 23, August 13, those are the potential vice presidential debates.
So, imagine this. Mr. Trump may nominate someone or add someone to his — as his running mate, and then, in less than a week, that person would be facing a debate with Vice President Harris. So, it is a very tight timeline. And while he may have said this is normal, it is unusual.
Geoff Bennett:
Yes, absolutely.
Lisa Desjardins, thanks so much for walking us through this. We appreciate it. You’re welcome.
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Lisa Desjardins is a correspondent for PBS NewsHour, where she covers news from the U.S. Capitol while also traveling across the country to report on how decisions in Washington affect people where they live and work.

Matt Loffman is the PBS NewsHour’s Deputy Senior Politics Producer

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