These are Trump’s potential picks for vice president

By Kaanita Iyer, CNN

CNN  — 

Former President Donald Trump has been busy in recent weeks. He was found guilty in his hush money trial in New York, is embroiled in three other legal cases and has continued his campaign to win back the White House.

But Trump has another task: Choosing a running mate.

With just weeks until the Republican National Convention, where the former president is expected to announce his pick for vice president, sources have told CNN that these are the possible contenders on Trump’s mind.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum speaks during a campaign event with former President Donald Trump, in Laconia, New Hampshire, in January.

Doug Burgum

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum challenged Trump for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination before suspending his campaign in December.

A former Microsoft executive, Burgum is a second-term governor with a conservative track record. He signed a bill last year that bans gender-affirming care for most minors and enacted a near-total ban on abortions in the state.

Late last month, Burgum — who was among the candidates that received vice-presidential vetting materials from the Trump campaign — told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins that “the whole discussion about the veepstakes … is kind of a giant distraction.”

“(Trump) can win this election on his own,” Burgum said, adding that the “people of this country” are “focused on the issues” and “not on who’s going to be the VP.”

In this November 2022 photo, Sen. Marco Rubio takes to the stage before the arrival of former President Donald Trump at a rally at the Miami-Dade Country Fair and Exposition on in Miami.

Marco Rubio

With several Trump insiders encouraging the former president to consider a Hispanic running mate, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio — the son of Cuban immigrants — could be an appealing choice.

Rubio ran against Trump in 2016, positioning himself at the time as the only person who could stop Trump. But since then, Rubio has adopted Trumpism and regularly defends the former president.

The senator, who was first elected to his office in 2010, is among the candidates who received vice-presidential vetting materials from the Trump campaign, and if chosen, Rubio would be the first Hispanic running mate on a major party ticket. The senator helped the former president gear up for the June debate against President Joe Biden by participating in a policy discussion.

But he faces a potential hurdle.

Rubio and Trump are both Florida residents and while there is no law preventing a president and vice president of the US being from the same state, the Constitution prevents electors from voting for two people from the same state. This could be detrimental if the election is close — and the Trump campaign expects it to be so, according to multiple Trump advisers. Rubio has not ruled out changing his residence.

In this April 2022 photo, J.D. Vance, shakes hands with former President Donald Trump during a rally hosted by the former president at the Delaware County Fairgrounds in Delaware, Ohio.

J.D. Vance

Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance, a freshman, entered Congress with the help of the former president, whose endorsement helped him win a contentious race in 2022.

Vance was critical of Trump in 2016, and, six year later, Trump publicly humiliated Vance even after endorsing him in the 2022 election.

Still, Vance is an outspoken supporter of Trump in Congress, and often votes in allegiance with the former president’s interests. He opposed a Ukraine aid bill earlier this year, adopting Trump’s criticism of providing more aid. He is also close with Donald Trump Jr.

Vance, a former venture capitalist, veteran and author, is among the candidates who received vice-presidential vetting materials from the Trump campaign.

When asked by CNN’s Kaitlan Collins if he has any pause to be Trump’s running mate given Trump’s treatment of his former vice president, Vance said he is “extremely skeptical that Mike Pence’s life was ever in danger” on January 6, 2021, the day of the riot at the US Capitol.

Sen. Tim Scott waves as he sits with former President Donald Trump during a Fox News town hall at the Greenville Convention Center on February 20, 2024 in Greenville, South Carolina.

Tim Scott

Trump has said Tim Scott is “a guy I look at” when asked on a radio show earlier this year if the South Carolina senator was a front-runner to be his potential running mate.

While Scott challenged Trump for the Republican nomination this election cycle, he ran a campaign that avoided being overly critical of the former president and often expressed support for policies enacted during the Trump administration, positioning himself to be considered as a running mate.

Since he suspended his campaign in November, he has aligned himself closely with Trump, and he is among the candidates who were sent various levels of paperwork in the vice-presidential vetting process.

Scott was appointed to the Senate in 2013 by then-South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. He retained the seat in a 2014 special election, was reelected to a full term in 2016 and won a second full term in 2022. He has one of the most conservative voting records in Congress and rarely broke with Trump during the latter’s presidency.

Rep Elise Stefanik speaks during a campaign rally for former President Donald Trump at the Grappone Convention Center on January 19, 2024 in Concord, New Hampshire.

Elise Stefanik

House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik was once a Trump skeptic during the 2016 campaign and in the early days of his presidency. She has since emerged as one of the former president’s most ardent supporters in Congress.

Stefanik delivered a strong defense of Trump during his 2019 impeachment trial, which positioned her as a “Republican star,” as the then-president said at the time. She then objected to Biden’s 2020 win in the House and promoted election lies.

Trump has at various times asked donors and allies what they think about Stefanik as a potential vice president, though her perceived zeal for the job turned off some of the former president’s advisers, one person close to Trump previously told CNN.

Stefanik — who was among the candidates who were sent various levels of paperwork in the vice-presidential vetting process — has publicly expressed interest in becoming Trump’s running mate or for a Cabinet position if he wins. The congresswoman, who was first elected in 2014, told CNN earlier this year that she’s “proud to be a top surrogate” and “would proudly serve in a future Trump administration.”

Former HUD Secretary Ben Carson campaigns for former President Donald Trump at the Grace Baptist Church on January 11, 2024 in Marion, Iowa.

Ben Carson

Former Housing and Urban Development secretary Ben Carson challenged Trump for the Republican nomination in 2016. And while Carson — who didn’t win a single primary contest — didn’t immediately endorse Trump, he did offer a strong defense of the man who would eventually become president.

“People who think Donald Trump would be the worst thing that ever happened … you make a really big mistake by trying to thwart the will of the people,” Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, said while suspending his campaign.

Once Trump was elected, Carson turned down the then-president-elect’s offer to be his health and human services secretary. But he eventually led the Department of Housing and Urban Development, despite criticism that he was not qualified to do so.

Carson — who is among the candidates who received various levels of paperwork in the vice-presidential vetting process — disagrees with Trump’s stance on one key issue: Abortion. In his new book, “The Perilous Fight,” Carson argued in favor of a legislation that “guarantees the right to life for all American citizens, including those still in the womb.” Trump has said that he would not sign a federal abortion ban if he’s back in office.

Rep. Byron Donalds speaks before former President Donald Trump at the “People's Convention” of Turning Point Action on June 15, 2024, in Detroit.

Byron Donalds

Florida Rep. Byron Donalds is a Trump loyalist and one of the former president’s most trusted surrogates. He rose to prominence in Trump world last year when he endorsed Trump over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in the Republican presidential primary, and he has received routine praise and public support from the former president.

He was part of a launch of the “Black Americans for Trump” group meant to target Black voters as the Trump campaign seeks to win over voters from the traditionally Democratic bloc. Donalds has been outspoken on related issues, including controversial comments he made earlier this month suggesting that Black families were “together” during the Jim Crow era of racial segregation.

Donalds has been confident that if selected as Trump’s vice president, he would be able to assume the role of commander in chief, if necessary, and said he will support Trump however he decides.

“I think that I have the ability to step in,” Donalds said in June on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “I’m actually pretty intelligent.”

Nikki Haley walks on stage at her caucus night event on January 15, 2024 in West Des Moines, Iowa.

Nikki Haley

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley was the last Trump opponent to stay in the GOP presidential race and on the trail, she tried to distinguish herself from the former president as the better alternative to reel in moderate and independent voters in a general election against Biden.

When asked if he would consider Haley as his running mate, Trump said earlier this month that he “was very disappointed in her because she stayed too long.”

Haley, who served as Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, said on the trail that she feels “no need to kiss the ring.” Even after suspending her campaign, she didn’t immediately endorse the former president and instead urged him to “earn” the support of voters who backed her. But she ultimately said last month that she’d be voting for her former boss.

Even after Haley suspended her campaign, tens of thousands of voters continued to vote for her in Republican primaries across the country. Her selection could help Trump win over GOP voters who are seeking an alternative to the former president. Still, Trump himself said on Truth Social that she is not under consideration.

Haley was elected as governor of South Carolina in 2011, making history as the first woman and the first person of an ethnic minority to hold governorship in the state.

In the Trump administration, she was initially considered for secretary of state before being offered the UN ambassadorship — a role she said she accepted on conditions that she be a Cabinet member, be on the National Security Council and have the ability to speak her mind. She resigned as ambassador in October 2018.

Sen. Tom Cotton arrives for a news conference on Capitol Hill on May 1, in Washington, DC.

Tom Cotton

Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton spent months exploring a 2024 presidential run, but eventually decided after the 2022 midterms that he would not join the race.

First elected to the US House in 2012 and then to the US Senate in 2014, the Afghanistan and Iraq War veteran has established himself as a conservative security hawk. He also put a long-standing hold on US attorney and US marshal nominations.

Cotton announced earlier this year that he would run for Senate Republican conference chair, the third-ranking leadership position in GOP leadership. However, he told NBC earlier this month that “any great patriot, if offered a chance to serve our country by the president, would have to consider it seriously.”

However, he said he has not talked to Trump or his campaign about the role “or any position in his administration.”

Former Congressman Tulsi Gabbard speaks during a general session of the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, on February 22, 2024.

Tulsi Gabbard

Former Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard ran as a Democratic presidential candidate in 2020, but left the party to become an independent in 2022, alleging that her former party is “under the complete control of an elitist cabal of warmongers driven by cowardly wokeness.”

Gabbard, a veteran, was first elected to Congress in 2012, making history as the first American Samoan woman and first practicing Hindu member in Congress. She also served as the vice chair of the Democratic National Committee. She left Congress in 2021.

As a congresswoman, she voted “present” on both articles of impeachment against Trump in 2019. And in recent months, she has ramped up her praise and defense of the former president, alleging at a Conservative Political Action Conference earlier this year that “the Democrat elite and cronies” are “using our criminal system to prosecute” Trump and “undermine his support.”

Gabbard has publicly expressed interest in joining the ticket, telling an audience in response to a question at a book event, “If asked to serve in that way, I would be honored to do so,” according to the New York Times.

In 2016, Gabbard was considered by Trump for jobs at the Defense Department, State Department and the United Nations, a source then told CNN.

CNN’s Veronica Stracqualursi, David Wright, Shania Shelton, Kristen Holmes, Steve Contorno, Stephen Collinson, Avery Lotz, Manu Raju, Alayna Treene, Kate Sullivan, Aaron Pellish, Jeff Zeleny, Eva McKend, Gregory Krieg, Kylie Atwood, Arit John, Ebony Davis, Clare Foran, Ali Zaslav and Ted Barrett contributed to this report.

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