As former President Donald Trump maintains his position as an automatic nominee for the Republican presidential nomination for the following year, conjecture has proliferated concerning the identity of his potential running colleague.
One of the leading candidates for the role, according to an exclusive report from Axios—an unquestionably left-leaning publication that surely did not portray the former president favorably—is a name that will come as a surprise to many.
An unnamed and thus unverifiable source was cited by Axios as claiming that former first lady Melania Trump exerted pressure on her husband to appoint former Fox News personality Tucker Carlson as his number two.
“[H]ere’s an interesting twist: Melania Trump is an advocate for picking Tucker Carlson, the booted Fox News star,” Axios CEO Jim VandeHei and co-founder Mike Allen wrote in their “Behind the Curtain” column Thursday, this one titled, “Exclusive: How Trump would build his loyalty-first Cabinet.”
“She thinks Carlson would make a powerful onstage extension of her husband, a source close to Trump told us,” the pair wrote. “The former first lady has made few campaign appearances this time around — but a Trump-Carlson ticket might encourage her to hit the trail.”
However, “many people close to Trump” soon realized that this was not something that would ever truly occur, according to the column.
“The idea of Tucker Carlson has been discounted by many people close to Trump because they assume he’d never pick someone who could outshine him,” it said. “And Trump’s staff is convinced (correctly) that Carlson can’t be controlled. But the two men talk a lot.”
Axios also noted that, asked about the possibility of Carlson as a running mate, Trump said, “I like Tucker a lot. … He’s got great common sense.”
That does not exactly constitute a resounding endorsement, but it certainly does not amount to a categorical “no.”
Rep. Byron Donalds, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, current senatorial candidate Kari Lake, Gov. Kristi Noem, Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Sen. J.D. Vance were also cited as being in contention for the vice presidential nomination.
Florida’s Donalds is black and relatively young at 45, which would obviously bring some diversity to the ticket, and “would love to be V.P.,” according to Axios. He could also pull in additional votes in the sure-to-be-contested state of Florida, which Trump won in 2020 by about 3 points.
Greene of Georgia disclosed to The Guardian in August that she was “on a list” of potential vice presidential candidates at the time. It was reported that she was also contemplating a bid for the Senate, but was delaying her decision until she received additional information from the Trump camp.
Kari Lake, who was unsuccessful in her bid for gubernatorial office in Arizona in 2022 and is currently vying for a Senate seat the following year, likely would not have initiated a Senate campaign if she had not been contemplating a run for vice president or if she had no intention of accepting the position if invited.
When urged to run with Trump, South Dakota governor Noem told Fox in August, “Of course, I would consider it.”
“Our country is breaking right in front of our very eyes today, and everybody should be a part of putting it back on its foundation,” she said at the time. “And if President Trump is going to be back in the White House, I’d do all I can to help him be successful.”
Sanders of Arkansas, the only candidate on Axios’ list to have previously served in the Trump administration, would also appear to be an obvious choice.
And Vance, the author of “Hillbilly Elegy” who successfully ran for Senate in Ohio in 2022, “might prefer to remain in the Senate as ‘Trump’s Hammer,’” Axios said.
It is not unprecedented for a presidential candidate to select a former primary opponent as his running mate. However, there are those who raise doubts as to whether Trump’s emphasis on loyalty would allow him to form a coalition with a former opponent.