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Who Wants To Be #2 To Trump... Especially After How It Worked Out For Poor Mike Pence

An Embarrassing Political Dead End

Club for Growth is making its move against Señor Trumpanzee. They don’t have a candidate of their own yet… just a mission to stop Trump, not for the same reasons normal people want to stop Trump, but because they are sure he can’t win in November. They have a new superPAC to do the dirty work: Win It Back PAC, which filed with the FEC last week. The Trump campaign exploded in rage. Chris LaCivita, a Trump factotum: “It’s no surprise that David McIntosh, a pro-China, America last, failed congressman wannabe is organizing another swampy D.C. insider super PAC. Their goal is to maintain their shady influence over Washington because they know President Trump stands in their way as he protects Americans from these vultures. These swamp dwellers will be crushed— without mercy and without remorse— and put back under the bridges where all trolls reside.”

That’s the second big money right-wing group planning to take Trump down without backing any specific candidate, at least not so far. Still, it doesn’t seem likely at this point that Trump can be stopped from winning the GOP primary. The right-leaning Real Clear Politics Republican polling average shows him way ahead:

  • Trump- 53.0%

  • Meatball Ron- 20.9%

  • Pence- 6.1%

  • Nikki Haley- 3.6%

  • Tim Scott- 3.3%

  • Chris Christie- 2.5%

  • Ramaswarmy- 2.4%

  • Așa Hutchinson- 0.9%

  • Larry Elder- 0.7%

  • Doug Burgum- 0.1%

Still between Club for Growth and the Koch-backed efforts to stop Trump, they will waste tens of millions of dollars that might otherwise go into attack ads against Democrats so… God bless.

Meanwhile, Trump-watchers are already wondering who he will pick as his running mate, since it certainly isn’t going to be Mike Pence again. Since he’s going to lose against Biden anyway, I hope he picks a member of Congress who wouldn’t be able to run for reelection and would thereby be out of our hair— like Ted Cruz, Gym Jordan, Elise Stefanik, Marjorie Traitor Greene… My favorite from that category would be Missouri Senator Josh Hawley. He would bring nothing (positive) to the ticket and the bonus is that it would make it even more likely that Democrat Lucas Kunce would make it to the Senate. So… go Hawley! In fact, he maddest onto Aaron Blake’s list of possible running mates yesterday.

Presumably whoever runs— win or, more likely, lose— would be the 2028 frontrunner, when there will be no incumbent running. Blake noted that “Trump himself has repeatedly played up the idea that people are gunning for the job… At its core, the choice Trump faces would seem to be between an ideological ally and a more pragmatic pick like Pence. But increasingly in the Republican Party, the lines between those two have been substantially blurred… DeSantis would seem to be the pragmatic pick if ever there was one, but he’s making a huge play for the extreme, internet-troll, own-the-libs wing of the party.”

Also Trump viscerally hates DeSantis and the feeling is mutual. Blake also wonders aloud who would even take the offer. "Even more than in 2016," he wrote, "Trump’s brand is divisive in a way that would surely give at least some Republicans pause. When Pence took the job, it made sense at least in part because he was at risk of losing his bid to be reelected governor in red Indiana. Other more-establishment Republicans shied away from the gig, leaving Trump with a shortlist of candidates who weren’t exactly at their political peaks. For now, here’s who we think might make sense, broken down into three categories."

The base/loyalty plays

Kari Lake: Despite never holding office, Lake exudes Trumpism arguably more than anyone on this list— right down to her thoroughly bogus, dead-ender election denialism. She did underperform in 2022, like a lot of Trump-aligned candidates, but not as much as many of them. The early knock on her is that she might be trying a bit too hard and that Trump doesn’t want to be overshadowed.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders: More than most new governors, the Arkansas governor has made a strong play for a national profile by going hard to the right, including on culture war issues. She also has a relationship with Trump and plenty of experience vouching for him as White House press secretary.

Marjorie Taylor Greene: A Greene selection would give the national party fits more than anyone on this list; even with her attempted reinvention of herself, she’s spouting many of the same conspiracy theories and proving just as unwieldy. She also performed surprisingly poorly in her ruby-red Georgia district in 2022.

Marsha Blackburn: The senator from Tennessee has long been one of the most right-wing, culture-war-focused senators, and her name was floated a time or two in 2016.

Josh Hawley: The senator from Missouri says he’s not interested. But many people say that, and perhaps no senator is as much at pains to play to the MAGA crowd as he is.

The (more) pragmatic picks

Tim Scott: This is among the ones that just make too much sense, especially if Trump wants to go with a woman or an African American. The senator from South Carolina generally has tried to avoid getting wrapped up in the Trump controversy of the day, and perhaps because of that is well-regarded party-wide. The question is whether he’s shown Trump enough loyalty.

Elise Stefanik: The New York congresswoman might be up there with Scott in terms of who makes sense. And her decision not to try to climb the GOP leadership ladder after the 2022 election led more than a few to (very validly) speculate that she might be angling for this job instead.

Nikki Haley: Haley’s later-aborted break with Trump after Jan. 6 would surely loom over her potential selection. But she was very popular when she served as Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations and could set herself up well with a strong 2024 campaign.

Kim Reynolds: The Iowa governor is enjoying being courted by all the presidential hopefuls coming to her state and has said she’ll remain neutral in the primary. [Trump hates her and she’s not a fan of his, so… this is a no-go.]

Kristi Noem: The South Dakota governor doesn’t have much of a national profile, despite considering her own 2024 bid. Without such a bid, it’s tough to see how she’d rise to the top.

Ron DeSantis: The main problems here are that he and Trump are going after each other right now and that they live in the same state. (This would mean they would forfeit Florida’s 30 electoral votes since the Constitution says at least one member of the ticket in a given state must be from another state, which would be a dealbreaker.) The former could be ironed-over in the service of building a winning ticket. The latter probably would force Trump to change his residency back to New York. But there is some precedent for this kind of thing.

Glenn Youngkin: The Virginia governor is keeping his options open on his own campaign. In his 2021 campaign, he was viewed as navigating the post-Trump era with aplomb, in both the primary and the general election.

The unlikely fliers

Francis Suarez: The Miami mayor is running his own 2024 campaign, but many see it as a steppingstone, and Kellyanne Conway apparently is a big fan. (The residency thing, of course, applies here, too.)

Tulsi Gabbard: The former congresswoman and former Democrat [and former Democrat] has become a Fox News favorite, but her résumé probably is too limited.

Byron Donalds: The Florida congressman has emerged as a significant voice of the House Freedom Caucus and younger Republicans, particularly during the debate over McCarthy’s speakership. But he’s only in his second term in Congress. [And has a long criminal record which might be a problem for some Republicans.]

Tucker Carlson: The buzz around Carlson has died down since he was canned by Fox News, and he’s said he has no interest in elective office. We also learned in the Dominion lawsuit against Fox that he privately bashed Trump.

Vivek Ramaswamy: Who knows, if he somehow runs a solid 2024 campaign?

Michael Flynn: Can you truly rule anything out?

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.: He’s running a very Trumpian campaign (albeit in the Democratic primary), latching on to many in Trumpworld who are happy to promote him in the service of trying to embarrass President Biden. But, despite all the hype, he’s not exactly ideologically aligned with Trump on major issues, and his modest level of early success seems to owe more to Democratic disillusionment with Biden and a golden Democratic name than anything else.

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