On Wednesday, former President Donald Trump said that none of the Republican candidates running against him to become the party’s 2024 presidential nominee are worth considering for his vice presidential running mate.
Trump, by far the frontrunner in the race, made the comments in a speech to auto workers on Wednesday evening about half an hour north of Detroit, Michigan. Although the event was held amid a United Auto Workers (UAW) strike, it was hosted by a non-union shop.
During Trump’s speech — which took place while the second GOP presidential debate was happening without him in Simi Valley, California — Trump said that those on the debate stage were “all running for a job,” implying that their candidacies were simply an audition to become his cabinet secretaries or even his vice president should he win the 2024 presidential election.
“Does anybody see a VP in the group? I don’t think so,” Trump said to the audience.
It is common for presidential candidates, once nominated by the party they are running to represent, to select a person who also ran in their party’s primaries to be their running mate. President Joe Biden was selected as former President Barack Obama’s vice presidential nominee in 2008 after running against him in the Democratic primaries, for example, and Trump’s former vice president, Mike Pence, had run for the GOP nomination for president (against Trump) in 2016.
It’s highly unusual for a presidential candidate to say they won’t consider any of their political opponents from the primaries to be their vice presidential running mate, especially this early in the process. Trump’s remarks indicate that he wants someone who has demonstrated greater loyalty to him to be his running mate— there have been indications, for example, that he may select Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) or failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake.
Meanwhile, during the debate in California, candidates vying to be the GOP nominee criticized Trump for not being there, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
“He should be on this stage tonight,” DeSantis told the debate audience. “He owes it to you to defend his record.”
Polling indicates that a plurality of voters agree with that sentiment. An Economist/YouGov poll published on the same day as the debate found that 45 percent of voters believe Trump should have attended the second GOP debate, while just 30 percent said he didn’t have to. (25 percent were unsure.) Among Republican voters, 39 percent said Trump should have been there, while 31 percent said he was right not to attend.
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