Former President Donald Trump, should he choose to run in 2024, won't pick Mike Pence again as his VP, according to Politico which cites several Trump advisers.
As things stand now, Trump is extremely unlikely to run again with former Vice President Mike Pence as his number two, advisers say. Some Trump aides have also written off Pence’s political future, at least at the presidential level, privately arguing that he has failed to capture anything close to the same kind of enthusiasm as Trump. They point to anger among the most diehard Trump supporters over Pence’s decision to carry out his Constitutional duty in certifying Biden’s election win. -Politico
"The vice president is an incredible man and was a great vice president, but he has a huge obstacle — problem — in trying to be the nominee after dealing with what he’s dealt with over the last six months," said another Trump adviser - noting the former president's overwhelmingly warm reception at recent conservative events.
When asked specifically if Pence could possibly serve as Trump's #2 again, the adviser replied: "zero."
Meanwhile, Trump and crew are certain that winning the GOP nomination will be a cakewalk.
"Their confidence is so supreme that they view almost all of the emerging field not as competition but as possible vice presidential picks," according to the report, which adds that Trump allies are already keeping tabs on how potential GOP presidential candidates are acting towards Trump himself, as well as the legitimacy of the 2020 election.
"You can’t wait to run for president," one Trump adviser said. "But those doing it now look like they’re dancing on the grave and the political body’s still warm."
Influential conservatives tend to agree - if Trump is running again, he needs to start with a clean slate.
"I think they know they need a fresh start if Trump runs again," said Bob Vander Plaats, CEO of Iowa-based social conservative group, The Family Leader. "Is that a Nikki Haley, is that a Tim Scott, is that a Gov. Kim Reynolds? Or is that a Kristi Noem? You could see all of those making a big play for VP." (hilarious)
Others (never-Trumpers) see Pence as a legitimate challenger in 2024 after his role in overseeing the certification of the election - while Pence and his advisers still have 'strong roots in conservative circles.'
Pence aides have made clear he is focused on helping Republicans get elected in 2022. And Pence, unlike other potential 2024 contenders, has never said publicly that he will bow out of the race if Trump gets in. The election is still 39 months away.
John Bolton, Trump’s former national security adviser turned Trump critic, told POLITICO that any “GOP presidential candidates who disagree with Pence's Jan. 6 electoral-vote rulings are almost certainly toast in the 2024 general election.”
Bolton, through his PAC, has been producing reams of polling data making the case that the Republican electorate is less tied to Trump than conventional wisdom suggests. His most recent survey showed that only one-third of Republicans polled believe Trump is the strongest candidate to take on Biden in 2024, while 52 percent believe a “fresh face” would make for a stronger candidate. -Politico
That's not what potential GOP candidates think, however. Potential 2024 contenders and their aides 'have begun engaging in a shadow campaign of sorts, presenting themselves as Trump understudies' who are ready to step into the race if Trump decides not to run again - or, they would angle for the VP spot.
Those on 'the list' - according to Politico, include: "Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, ex-Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Sens. Tim Scott, Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton and Josh Hawley,' some of whom have been making their way to early voting states such as Iowa and New Hampshire to connect with party bigwigs and activists. Others have traveled elsewhere to speak at events for 2022 midterm candidates - as well as wooing rich donors at PAC fundraisers.
According to those 'in the know,' Trump and the rest are waiting to see how the 2022 midterm elections turn out.
"The best thing you can do is be out there for yourself and fundraising and stumping for candidates," said one Trump adviser. "74 million people isn’t a base. It’s half the electorate. People are asking the wrong question — how do I keep Trump saying my name with a smile on his face? But they need to know how they should connect with his base."