Are you ready for Trump/Stefanik 2024?

Are you ready for Trump/Stefanik 2024?
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

I know some of you have your hearts set on Trump/DeSantis or DeSantis/Anybody. But the odds of DeSantis beating Trump in a primary remain long, if not as long as they were a month ago.

And the odds of Trump picking DeSantis as VP are slimmer than you might expect. There’s a logistical problem, first and foremost: A presidential nominee and his VP need to reside in different states, which Trump and DeSantis currently do not. There’s a personality problem too. Namely, if DeSantis dares to jump in and challenge Trump for the nomination, it’s hard to imagine Trump being magnanimous enough in victory to reward his would-be usurper with a place on the ticket. To nominate a fellow presidential primary contender as VP, as Reagan did with Bush and Biden did with Harris, you have to care about unifying the party more than you care about your own grudges.

Trump does not, as Brian Kemp might tell you.

There’s one more reason DeSantis would be less than optimal for Trump. Trump knows that women voters tend to dislike him and that he’ll need to claw back a few of them in 2024 to cut into Democratic margins in the suburbs. Reportedly that explains why he hasn’t been crowing about the imminent demise of Roe v. Wade — he suspects well-educated women trend pro-choice on balance and he doesn’t want to say anything that might alienate them further. “Suburban women — some who voted for me — they don’t like it when we talk about it. That’s a problem sometimes [and that is] important to remember,” he allegedly said about abortion at a fundraiser after the draft of Alito’s Dobbs opinion leaked, per Rolling Stone.

That may lead him to conclude that he needs a woman running mate, particularly since it’s all but assured that at least one woman will be on the Democratic ticket. But how many women are there in the GOP right now who are (a) prominent, (b) sufficiently MAGA to appease populists, and (c) sufficiently un-MAGA to not weird out suburban voters? No doubt he’d love to make Marjorie Taylor Greene his running mate but he knows how that would play. Nikki Haley would be a good play for the suburbs but MAGA voters would barf over her establishmentarian pedigree.

Realistically I think it’s a choice between Kristi Noem and Elise Stefanik. And Stefanik may have more cred among suburban women, being a Harvard grad with a decidedly centrist voting record in the past. That could be a liability with MAGA voters, of course, but Stefanik has been so over-the-top in recasting herself as an “Ultra MAGA” Trump fanatic since his first impeachment trial that they might be willing to overlook it. American politics in 2022 is more about “vibes” than about policy and Stefanik has worked tirelessly to put out the true-blue Trump loyalist vibe since 2019.

Relatedly, she’d be a great choice for Trump in another sense. As one of the most soulless careerist reptiles in a city full of them, Stefanik would 100 percent be willing to do what Mike Pence wasn’t on January 6, 2021. If she was willing to flush her integrity down the toilet by repositioning as a Trump ass-kisser in order to raise her national profile and protect her right flank, there’s logically no stopping point. She wants to be Speaker or president, I assume, and appears comfortable enough with doing whatever it takes to live her dream. If that means blocking the certification of a Democratic victory on January 6, 2029 then that’s what it means.

Trump has reportedly been talking her up to his confidants. A Trump/Stefanik ticket is a real possibility.

While talk about a 2024 vice presidential pick is of course premature, conversations about adding Stefanik to a future Trump ticket have gained steam in recent weeks at Mar-a-Lago and in other Republican circles, sources said. Current and former advisers and others in Trump’s orbit have privately argued that the New York Republican, who replaced Rep. Liz Cheney as the no. 3 House Republican last year, is a fierce and loyal attack dog, and Trump would benefit from tapping a woman for vice president should he run again.

Two people familiar with the matter said Trump has been surveying close friends and allies on what they think of Stefanik, one of several Republican women he is possibly eyeing for the potential VP slot, though he has not ruled out a few male contenders, too. One of these people said the former President believes Stefanik has undergone a genuine transformation — leaving the moderate wing of the party to join its increasingly powerful “America First” flank…

One of the people familiar with Trump’s discussions about Stefanik said a female House Republican, especially one who has been in the party’s leadership ranks, may be a wise choice if Trump decides to run on an aggressive policy agenda in 2024, noting that Stefanik would have preexisting relationships on Capitol Hill that might benefit his future legislative priorities.

I had to laugh at the part about Trump believing her transformation is genuine. If, God willing, the day ever comes when the party pivots away from Trumpism, his head will spin from the speed with which Stefanik repositions herself again. But so long as he remains the leader of the GOP it’s true that she’ll be a “fierce and loyal attack dog.” And while Noem has a more conservative record than Stefanik does, Noem has her own vulnerabilities on the right. Given that Trump is a Queens guy who prizes credentials, I’m guessing he’d be more comfortable with a New Yorker with an Ivy League diploma than with a South Dakotan. Stay tuned.

There’s another smart conservative woman out there who Trump knows well and thinks highly of, but it appears her chances of working in a second Trump administration have suddenly gone up in smoke.

Poor Kellyanne. She’s gone out of her way to hold Trump blameless for the “stop the steal” nightmare he foisted on the country. But because she cares too much about her own respectability to endorse the Big Lie, she’s now been evicted from his inner circle. See why Trump likes Stefanik so much? Elise doesn’t care about respectability. That’s the kind of loyalty he craves.

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Ben Shapiro 12:01 AM on June 01, 2023