Who will Trump choose as his vice presidential pick? What to know.


WASHINGTON − Former President Donald Trump will spend part of his weekend hosting the latest episode of “The Apprentice,” but this time it’s the vice presidential edition.

At least six contenders for the former president’s running mate – Sen. Tim Scott, R.S.C.; Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio; Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.; Rep. Elise Stefanik, RN.Y.; South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem; and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum – will attend a Republican donor retreat Friday and Saturday in Palm Beach, Florida, in what looks like a series of auditions.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for Republican leaders and supporters to come together,” says the invitation to the event, which will also include panel discussions featuring campaign officials and Republican lawmakers that are closed to the media.

But in Palm Beach, most eyes will be on the vice presidential candidates who have been trying out for months at campaign rallies, primary parties, meetings and television interviews to join Trump on the GOP ticket that in 2016 and 2020 included Mike Pence.

Trump, who liked to keep contestants guessing when he hosted “The Apprentice” reality show, has been throwing out mixed signals about his running mate in recent months.

“Anyone claiming to know who or when President Trump will choose his VP is lying, unless the person is named Donald J. Trump,” senior campaign advisor Brian Hughes told USA TODAY in a statement.

Here’s what you need to know about Trump’s potential VP picks:

Sen. Tim Scott

If Trump seeks a historical pick, he could make Scott the Republicans’ first Black vice presidential candidate.

Scott, who once competed against Trump for the 2024 GOP nomination, ultimately hit the campaign trail for his former rival in the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries.

On the other hand: Trump has suggested he doesn’t want an apparent running mate who has designs on the 2028 presidential election, and Scott could fall into that category if he decides to launch another White House bid.

That’s the reason prominent figures like former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson keep popping up. Carson is not expected to launch another White House campaign – and he’s not scheduled to attend the donor retreat this weekend.

Sen. J.D. Vance

Vance, a first-term senator, has been particularly vocal about defending Trump against his indictments in four separate criminal cases, including the ongoing hush money trial in New York.

A frequent television news guest, Vance’s stock rose this week after reporters obtained an invitation showing that he would headline a fundraiser for the former president in Cincinnati on May 15. Vance is also friends with a key figure in Trump’s orbit: Donald Trump Jr.

Vance told Fox News and CNN this week that he has not talked with Trump about the running mate position.

“Of course, if he asked me, I’d have to think seriously about it because I think it’s really important that he win,” Vance told “Fox News Sunday.”

Rep. Elise Stefanik

Trump could also make history by picking a woman, and Stefanik has been on his potential list for months.

A member of House leadership, Stefanik endorsed Trump early, campaigned aggressively for him in New Hampshire and often speaks to conservative groups like the RNC donor conference this weekend in Palm Beach.

Stefanik has also been a vocal critic of Trump’s criminal cases, to the point of filing a legal complaint against special counsel Jack Smith. He is the lead prosecutor in the cases alleging Trump mishandled classified information and tried to steal the 2020 election.

Sen. Marco Rubio

Rubio, a senator from the state where the GOP donor conference is being held, would also make history as the first Latino person on a national ticket.

A Trump-Rubio duo could raise a legal problem because they both live in Florida. Some attorneys believe running mates from the same state might be forced to forfeit that state’s electoral votes. That’s why running mate Dick Cheney moved residency from Texas back to Wyoming when former President George W. Bush tapped him in 2000.

The Florida problem might also affect the chances of another GOP lawmaker and potential running mate who plans to attend the donor retreat: US Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum

There are always long-shot candidates – for example, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in 2008 – and Burgum is one of the speakers at the weekend soiree.

Trump could consider the fact that the North Dakota governor endorsed and spoke on his behalf at an event the day before the Iowa caucuses. Burgum has been more enthusiastic for Trump than other former 2024 candidates who are not being considered for running mate, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.

Another politician not on Trump’s list: former Vice President Mike Pence.

Pence turned against Trump over the latter’s demand in 2021 that his vice president try to throw out the electoral votes that elected Biden to the presidency, a step Pence insisted he never legally could have taken. Trump has also appeared indifferent after mobs threatened Pence’s life as they invaded the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem

Noem will appear at this weekend’s conference at a fresh time for her vice presidential prospects after a story in her new book revealed she shot the family dog ​​because it kept attacking people and livestock.

The story prompted criticism from Democrats and Republicans alike. Donald Trump Jr., on his podcast “Triggered,” called the revelation “not ideal.”

In an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, Noem, who described the dog as dangerous, said: “It’s an unfortunate situation, but one that I hope people understand. … They need to hear the truth and not what the media has leg spinning.”

Plenty of advice for Trump

As he assesses his options, Trump is getting plenty of advice from associates, politicians and donors about whom he should pick.

Some of the potential choices are not scheduled to be in Palm Beach this weekend, including Arkansas Gov. Sarah Sanders (a former Trump press secretary), Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, and former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

On his radio show, Donald Trump Jr. told former Trump adviser Steve Bannon that his father should “accelerate” the running mate decision, especially given the fact that Trump is tied up in court.

“You’ve got a deep bench to do it,” Bannon replied. “You’ve got great people, JD Vance, Gov. Burgum of North Dakota. You know, you’ve got Dr. Carson, others.”

Others said there’s no counting when Trump will make his decision.

Newt Gingrich, whom Trump considered for running mate in 2016, said the former president will act when he’s ready.

“I’m relaxing and watching to see what (Trump) does; he will only do it out of intuition,” Gingrich told USA TODAY. “I suspect that he’s looking at (Marco) Rubio, he’s looking at Scott, Tim Scott, and I think he’s probably looking at a couple of women candidates, but I think he’s going to think it through at his own pace. I think he’s in no hurry.”