With a win in the New Hampshire Republican primary, Donald Trump is almost certain to receive the Republican presidential nomination.
According to experts, the real battle in the GOP is now over who will serve as Trump’s running mate. Unlike the Republican presidential race, which has only two candidates (Trump and India-origin Nikki Haley), there are over half a dozen Republicans running for vice president.
We take a look.
But first, define a running mate.
The United States Constitution calls for both a president and a vice president. While the president is the head of the executive branch and the most powerful person in the country, the vice president is the next in line (if the president dies in office or becomes incapacitated) and serves as the president’s adviser and representative.
A running mate is a vice presidential candidate from a specific party who is chosen by the presidential candidate during the campaign. Voters vote for the president and vice president together.
“The presidential candidate generally wants to choose a running mate who will help them get elected,” Chris Edelson, an Assistant Professor of Government at American University in Washington, DC. There are no hard-and-fast rules, but political considerations are generally taken into account when making the decision.
Countries like Indonesia and Brazil also have a running mate system.
Who is in the running to be Trump’s running mate?
The following are some names that have been making the rounds in the media: Although Politico reported this week that “Trump has told his inner circle he has made a selection,” he has not made the final decision or given any hints.
- Representative Elise Stefanik (R-NY).
Stefanik, a former George Bush aide who also worked on Mitt Romney’s failed 2012 presidential campaign, was once considered a rising moderate Republican. In recent years, though, she has taken a sharp turn to the right. She made national headlines in 2023 for criticising university presidents’ handling of anti-Israel protests on campuses. She has been harshly critical of Nikki Haley for continuing her campaign, calling it an “effort to divide Republicans” and “assist Joe Biden.”
- Kristi Noem,
a 52-year-old Trump supporter, was elected governor of South Dakota in 2019 after receiving Trump’s endorsement. Her devotion to Trump is so strong that in 2021, she gave him a replica of Mount Rushmore with his likeness carved alongside presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson. She previously served in the House of Representatives and the South Dakota statehouse before becoming governor.
- Senator J. D. Vance (R-Ohio)
Vance, 39, a Yale Law School graduate and venture capitalist, became well-known in 2016 as the author of Hillbilly Elegy, a memoir about his family’s experience with rural poverty in Appalachia. While once a vocal Trump critic, even calling him “America’s Hitler,” Vance has since become one of the former president’s staunchest supporters, receiving his endorsement for his 2022 Senate campaign. In an interview earlier this week, he described Trump as “more electable” than Haley.
- Kairi Lake
Lake, 54, spent decades as a television presenter before entering politics. Lake, a former Democrat who supported Barack Obama, is now a vocal supporter of Trump’s Maga movement. She ran unsuccessfully for Arizona governor in 2022, refusing to accept the election results. She is now seeking the Republican nomination to run against incumbent Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona).
- Senator Tim Scott (R-SC).
Scott, 58, led a campaign to become the Republican nominee for president, but dropped out after failing to gain traction in the polls. Scott, one of the GOP’s black faces, is the sole black Republican in the United States Senate. He backed Donald Trump on the eve of the New Hampshire primary. According to experts, choosing Scott as running mate could help undermine Democrats’ racism accusations against Trump and the GOP.
- Arkansas Gov.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, 41, rose to prominence as White House press secretary during the Trump administration from 2017-19. She was also a senior advisor for Trump’s 2016 campaign and a staunch supporter. She was elected governor of Arkansas in 2022 and has made occasional headlines for her anti-abortion and anti-climate change views and policies. She is the daughter of Mike Huckabee, a two-term Arkansas governor and former Republican presidential candidate.
- Vivek Ramaswamy –
Indian origin. Ramaswamy, 38, withdrew from the Republican primary field earlier this month. An entrepreneur-turned-politician, he claims that the United States is experiencing a national identity crisis caused by “new secular religions like COVID-ism, climate-ism, and gender ideology.” While he has previously been both critical and supportive of Trump, he claims that Nikki Haley is being propped up by her “donor puppet masters” to keep Trump off the ballot.
- Nikki Haley,
Indian origin Haley, 52, is Trump’s last opponent in the Republican race. The former South Carolina governor and US Ambassador to the United Nations (during the Trump administration) has been harshly critical of Trump in recent weeks. According to Politico, people close to Trump have privately warned him that naming Haley as his running mate would effectively set him up for an intra-party coup. Others see someone who could make Trump’s nomination more appealing to moderate Republicans and independents. Haley has stated that she will not be a part of the Trump administration in any capacity.