Donald J. Trump hasn’t won a single primary or caucus vote yet, let alone the Republican nomination, but his lead in the polls has left much of the political world viewing his nomination as all but inevitable.
It has also inspired a fair amount of speculation about who might wind up on a 2024 ticket beside him. It will almost surely not be former Vice President Mike Pence, who crossed Trump by certifying the 2020 election results.
While Trump has not begun formal veepstakes talks, he has casually weighed the pros and cons of some contenders with friends and advisers.
His team has discussed possible parameters, like whether a woman on the ticket would help win back suburban women who abandoned him in the last election, or if choosing a person of color would be a smart choice, given the gains he saw in 2020 with Black and Hispanic men.
Either way, Mar-a-Lago courtiers generally agree that any résumé for the No. 2 spot on the ticket must include some Trump-specific requirements that defy demographics: absolute loyalty to the Trump brand, a willingness to filter every decision and public comment through a subservient lens, and the know-it-when-you-see-it “central casting” look the former president prizes.
Here’s a look at some possible contenders.
Household names in national politics, these are some of the figures most often floated as possible running mates.
A senator from South Carolina, Scott ran for president but dropped out in November.
Al Drago/EPA, via Shutterstock
- The only Black Republican in the Senate, he is one of the party’s most prodigious fund-raisers, and one of its most well-liked figures.
- Scott has often leaned on his faith, which could help ease evangelicals’ concerns about Trump. Some have been depressed by Trump’s eagerness to blame them for the party’s losses in 2022 and by his lack of passion for their anti-abortion priorities.
- He’s not on anyone’s list of Trump’s most vocal supporters.
- He said when he dropped out that he had no intention of endorsing another candidate, but that could always change.
- Scott’s inability to produce memorable moments in three primary debates might not bode well for a potential face-off against Vice President Kamala Harris, a former prosecutor.
Haley, a former United Nations ambassador under Trump and a former governor of South Carolina, is running for president against him.
Samuel Corum for The New York Times
- She has proved to be a skillful debater and formidable campaigner.
- As her state’s first female governor and the nation’s second governor of Indian descent, she would diversify a Trump ticket.
- Her executive experience on economic issues as governor and her handling of foreign policy issues in Trump’s cabinet could prepare her well for a debate with Harris.
- Trust could be a problem after she endorsed a rival of his in 2016 and entered the 2024 race against him, accusing him of pursuing “chaos, vendettas and drama” and saying a younger president was needed.
- Her ambition could spook a man reluctant to share the spotlight.
- Trump’s nastiness toward her – he has relentlessly called her “birdbrain” – could be a barrier.
A staunch and provocative conservative, the Arkansas senator has been seen as one of the Republican Party’s rising figures.
Doug Mills/The New York Times
- At 46, he’s three decades younger than Trump.
- He’s a decorated military veteran with a substantial foreign policy résumé.
- Trump has shown interest in Cotton before: He considered him for a cabinet post.
- He voted to certify the 2020 presidential election, which has become Trump’s most important political litmus test.
- He’s a foreign policy hawk, which might not align with Trump’s often isolationist, “America First” views.
The Florida senator, a rival to Trump in 2016, has hummed along as a reliable Trump ally and leading Republican voice on foreign policy issues.
Scott McIntyre for The New York Times
- Experienced on the national stage, Rubio is a known quantity.
- His pro-Israel, anti-Putin track record is particularly timely.
- He is a fluent Spanish speaker, and his Cuban heritage figures prominently in his political bio.
- Rubio and Trump have quietly had a close relationship for years. Before Trump was voted out of the White House in 2020, he was considering Rubio as a possible secretary of state nominee.
- Rubio has never quite fulfilled the expectations that many Republicans held for him — and that he helped stoke — after his underdog Senate victory in 2010.
- He very publicly said he didn’t want to be considered for Trump’s ticket in 2016.
- What could disqualify him is the central role he played in a 2013 immigration overhaul effort that, even a decade later, remains anathema to the Republican base.
Pompeo, a former congressman from Kansas, was a fixture in the Trump administration, first as C.I.A. director and then as secretary of state.
Al Drago for The New York Times
- He has more high-level experience than most of the other contenders.
- He would provide geographic balance as a Midwestern presence on the Republican ticket.
- In his memoir about his time in the administration, Pompeo criticized the former president’s handling of Vladimir V. Putin, said Trump had a “nutty” plan to put him in charge of the Departments of Defense and State, and revealed that tough talk about China had upset Trump.
- Pompeo had considered a 2024 presidential campaign, which Trump viewed as a sign of disloyalty. Before deciding not to run, he publicly warned Republicans to move on from “celebrity leaders” with “fragile egos.”
For any potential Trump sidekick, a track record of accomplishments is nice to have. A track record of fealty may be even more important.
The best-selling author and former venture capitalist is now a senator from Ohio, thanks largely to a Trump endorsement.
Maddie McGarvey for The New York Times
- He and Trump resolved their differences and have become particularly close.
- Vance is one of Trump’s most vigorous defenders, which sets him apart in a Senate populated with skeptics of the former president.
- Both are immigration hard-liners who also share similar views on trade.
- He’s much younger than Trump, but he wouldn’t add any gender or ethnic diversity to the ticket.
- Ohio is no longer a presidential battleground.
- Vance is fiercely anti-abortion, which could add to the party’s difficulties on that issue.
Trump’s former White House press secretary, she parlayed the exposure that gave her into the Arkansas governor’s office.
Doug Mills/The New York Times
- She is a young, female Republican who is widely well-regarded in the party.
- She learned the ins and outs of the West Wing while becoming a MAGA star as the administration’s lead spokeswoman.
- She endorsed Trump in November.
- Trump resented that it took her a year to endorse his 2024 campaign.
- A minor scandal in Arkansas over the purchase of a $19,000 lectern was the sort of unforced error that presidential campaigns try to avoid.
A popular governor and a former congresswoman, Noem has welcomed speculation that she could be invited to join the ticket.
Jamie Kelter Davis for The New York Times
- A telegenic Midwesterner, Noem could help connect with suburban women in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, states where Mike Pence spent much of his time in 2016.
- A two-term governor, she has a record of economic accomplishments in her state that could resonate with voters in 2024.
- She is untested on the national stage.
- She has close ties to Corey Lewandowski, the longtime on-again, off-again Trump adviser, whose brushes with the law have generated unwelcome headlines for Team Trump.
A former House member from Texas who served as the director of national intelligence in Trump’s administration.
Doug Mills/The New York Times
- A former prosecutor, Ratcliffe made a name for himself grilling Peter Strzok, an F.B.I. agent, over text messages mocking Trump before the 2016 election. Trump still talks about those texts on the campaign trail.
- He was rated as the most conservative legislator in Texas by the Heritage Foundation.
- He remains close to Trump and would be viewed as a solid choice for the position.
- He turned down a chance to become attorney general when Trump approached him about the position after the 2020 election.
- He warned the Trump White House team against trying to overturn the 2020 election, according to one staff member’s sworn testimony to Congress.
- He is not so well known among Trump supporters that his presence on the ticket would energize the base.
Lake, a prominent election denier, narrowly lost the 2022 Arizona governor’s race.
Rebecca Noble for The New York Times
- Few Republicans have emulated Trump’s signature style of confrontational politics better than Lake.
- A former Phoenix local news anchor, she delivers a polished presentation of her far-right agenda.
- She came within a percentage point of winning statewide in Arizona, one of the country’s top presidential battlegrounds.
- Lake’s Trump impression might be a little too inspired. He is loath to share any of the attention that comes his way, let alone risk being eclipsed.
- Adding her to the ticket would combine two of the party’s most divisive figures.
- She and Trump have exactly one electoral victory between them.
A wealthy entrepreneur, Ramaswamy has built his campaign around his devotion to Trump, and many Republican voters have responded warmly.
Kenny Holston/The New York Times
- Youthful and energetic, Ramaswamy could be a potent surrogate for Trump, who will spend much of 2024 tied up in court defending himself on criminal charges.
- No presidential contender has been more eager to praise Trump from the debate stage, on social media or on the campaign trail.
- Trump has returned the adoration, saying in August that he thought Ramaswamy would make a “very good” V.P. pick.
- He has no previous political experience.
- He has irritated both Republican leaders and voters: Polls show that those with unfavorable opinions of him outnumber those with favorable opinions.
- He’s relatively untested and unvetted compared with some of the other contenders.
Lesser known on the national stage, these politicians could provide the ticket with a fresh face.
A second-term congressman who has made a name for himself in Washington as an avatar for the next generation of pro-Trump Republicans.
Erin Schaff/The New York Times
- He is one of the party’s relatively few Black officeholders and would add racial diversity to the ticket at a time when Republicans are seeking to draw Black voters away from Democrats.
- Trump has taken notice of Donalds and has spoken admiringly of him to advisers.
- He is relatively inexperienced as a politician.
- He ran unsuccessfully for House speaker against Kevin McCarthy, who had Trump’s endorsement.
- Donalds had some run-ins with law enforcement two decades ago, including a bribery charge to which he pleaded no contest. He has said that he learned from the experience, describing what he did as the “actions of a young kid.”
Stefanik, a five-term congresswoman, has morphed from a Bush administration staff member into one of the party’s most prominent Trump supporters.
Hans Pennink/Associated Press
- A 39-year-old woman and rising Republican, Stefanik would bring youth and gender diversity to a ticket with the septuagenarian Trump.
- She has a proven ability to reinvent herself as the political moment necessitates.
- Her devotion to Trump may be surpassed only by her own political ambition. There’s room for only one personal brand at Mar-a-Lago.
- She’s from New York, which despite Republican gains remains a solidly blue state.
Dixon, a conservative media personality, lost the 2022 governor’s race in Michigan to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat.
Brittany Greeson for The New York Times
- A young, charismatic woman from a battleground state, Dixon would check a lot of boxes for Trump. Betting markets are also high on her.
- She proudly highlighted a Trump endorsement during her 2022 campaign.
- Dixon was trounced by 10 percentage points in 2022. Trump likes winners.
- She has taken positions on abortion that some party leaders, including Trump, now view as out of touch with voters.
A House member from South Carolina who was the first female military recruit to graduate from the Citadel.
Kenny Holston/The New York Times
- She enjoys a large media profile and has openly expressed interest in joining the ticket.
- Mace largely aligns with Trump on social issues, and has cautioned her party against going too far in restricting access to abortion.
- She’s politically pliable: hailed as a moderate by some, a pro-Trump warrior by others.
- She strongly condemned Trump for the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot and has said he should be held accountable.
- Trump recruited a primary challenger to run against her last year, and it’s unclear if they have made amends.
- She hasn’t yet endorsed Trump’s latest presidential bid.
A freshman in the House and a retired Army Apache helicopter pilot, he has become one of the party’s rising stars.
Suzanne Cordeiro/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
- Hunt is another young Black Republican seen as having a bright future, and tells a powerful personal story about growing up in a family of staunch Democrats.
- He endeared himself to Trump on the 2024 trail in Iowa by remaining in the state for several days after the campaign had left in order to stump on Trump’s behalf.
- He isn’t on many lists of potential Trump V.P.s, but neither was Mike Pence.
- His inexperience may not reassure voters who are nervous about Trump’s advanced age.
They’re long shots, yes. But Donald Trump is far from a predictable politician.
The former Fox News anchor is widely viewed as one of the ideological godfathers of Trumpian Republicanism.
Saul Martinez for The New York Times
- Trump likes Carlson and has floated the possibility of adding him to the ticket.
- Both agree that the United States should have a limited role in foreign conflicts.
- They teamed up for an interview undercutting a Republican presidential debate that Trump didn’t want to participate in and that was hosted by Fox News, which had cut ties with Carlson.
- “I hate him passionately” was how Carlson described his feelings about Trump in a 2021 text message.
- His ability to articulate conservative positions could outshine Trump’s.
- He’d excite the Trump base, but could alienate many other kinds of voters.
A senator and former Florida governor, Scott has an untarnished electoral record after three statewide campaigns in one of the nation’s biggest political battlegrounds.
Al Drago/The New York Times
- The bromance between Scott and Trump dates back more than a dozen years.
- He has made important connections with donors during his time running the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
- Scott also has a personal fortune that he’s been willing to tap for political campaigns.
- He struggles to connect with voters.
- Scott, who is running for a second term, invites his own share of controversy, including a proposal last year to sunset all federal programs after five years that made no clear exceptions for Social Security or Medicare.
A far-right conspiracy theorist, Greene is one of Trump’s top surrogates on the campaign trail.
Doug Mills/The New York Times
- Few Republicans have earned more brownie points with Trump.
- She’s popular with the base and has become a small-dollar fund-raising powerhouse.
- It’s difficult to imagine a bigger about-face for Trump than to go from Mike Pence to Marjorie Taylor Greene.
- Choosing her would be incredibly risky politically. And this is one area where Trump has shown little interest in rolling the dice.