If Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida is Donald Trump’s choice for running mate, should the former president win the 2024 presidential nomination, Donalds had two words about whether he’d accept: “Of course.”
Donalds, who was first elected in 2020, entered into the Trump veepstakes after his appearance on CNN following Trump’s town hall on the network May 11.
According to Breitbart, after he said that moderator Kaitlan Collins had spent “more time interjecting her own viewpoints” into the event and was interrupted, he responded, “Are you guys now going to interject your opinions on me or do I get a chance?”
Then, later in the month, his House GOP colleague Rep. Tim Burchett of Tennessee asked people to “[r]etweet this if you think my friend @RepDonaldsPress @ByronDonalds would make a great choice for Vice President.”
“Byron is a dear friend, and he is the American dream,” Burchett said. “He came up with nothing and had a good mama.”
Another one of Donalds’ GOP House colleagues — Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, also of Florida — seemed to agree, tweeting a picture of Trump and Donalds on Monday, along with the caption, “The Donalds 2024.”
Last week, Donalds told Breitbart he would be more than willing to accept should the nod come his way.
“If it came up? Oh yeah, of course, because you have the opportunity to do really powerful things for the country and really help shape the country,” Donalds said.
“But I’m a member of Congress. I just do my job. I let everybody else speculate on the other stuff.”
Still, there’s an awful lot of speculation as to who a second-in-command would be. One assumes Mike Pence isn’t going to be applying for a second go at the gig when (and almost certainly not if) his campaign sputters to a halt, leaving him plenty of time to pontificate on the matter.
Obviously, Trump might not be the nominee — but when a former president is at over 50 percent in the RealClearPolitics polling average and the only real challenger anyone seemed to foresee to his renomination is failing to gain ground and shaking up his own campaign — it’s not unreasonable to start asking the question.
One report earlier this year had four women at the top of the president’s shortlist: Former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, also a 2024 GOP nomination candidate; current South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem; 2022 Arizona GOP gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake; and former Trump-era White House press secretary and current Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
On Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures,” Trump said he was open to picking one of his primary rivals as his running mate, according to USA Today.
While Trump declined to name names, saying he didn’t want to “embarrass them,” Pence has unofficially ruled himself out by the very act of running against his former boss. Trump’s main challenger, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, has officially ruled himself out — telling a podcast last week he’s “not a No. 2 guy,” according to The New York Times.
However, one of the same disincentives to picking DeSantis for Trump pointed out by the Times would also exist for Donalds:
“The 12th Amendment to the Constitution forbids members of the Electoral College from voting for a president and vice-president who are both from the same state as themselves. So if Mr. Trump picked Mr. DeSantis, or another Florida resident like Mayor Francis Suarez of Miami, who is also in the race, he would forfeit the state’s 30 electoral votes,” noted the Times’ Nicholas Nehamas.
“One solution: Mr. Trump, who switched his residency to Florida ahead of the 2020 election, could change it back to New York.”
But, it might just be easier for Trump to pick one of the more friendly candidates he runs against during the 2024 primaries.
Aside from Haley, businessman and conservative activist Vivek Ramaswamy has been the surprise breakout of the pre-debate season and finds himself in fourth place in the RealClearPolitics polling aggregate — behind Trump, DeSantis and Pence — and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott is reportedly poised for a breakout among major donors.
Thus, there’s no shortage of people who will take up the No. 2 position, should Trump win the nomination.
The real question is whether Donalds’ profile-raising appearances on cable news and increasing importance in the House GOP caucus put him on the former president’s radar for a running mate.
So far, things seem to be trending in that direction — but it’s a long way to the GOP convention next summer. And Trump has to win the nomination firsrt.