Trump’s vice presidential shortlist is very long — and in flux

At a fundraiser in New York, Donald Trump asked donors what they thought of Arizona Senate candidate Kari Lake as a running mate.

In recent conversations, the former president has appeared fixated on Ohio Sen. JD Vance.

And Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, former Trump Cabinet official Ben Carson and even former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley are among some of the names on a lengthy list Trump has mentioned over the past several months.

The presumptive GOP nominee is floating them all as he weighs who the next potential vice president will be.

Trump routinely asks allies, donors and Mar-a-Lago members for their take. Sources said his interest in potential candidates is frequently changing and is often based on recent conversations with various allies.

“One day he is trashing someone, and the next day he is asking allies about that person as vice president. Sometimes he’s just curious what people think of them,” one Trump adviser told CNN.

In recent weeks, Trump has expressed increased interest in Rubio, Vance, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, according to multiple sources who have been briefed on the matter or have spoken to the former president about it.

Trump advisers have indicated that the former president is nowhere near to making a formal decision on whom he wants to run with, the sources said. Trump has also not personally discussed the role with many of the names he has floated, according to conversations with people close to the potential candidates.

While Trump volleys names and potential candidates begin jockeying behind the scenes, his campaign has compiled a list of more than a dozen potential vice presidential picks to be vetted, sources familiar with the matter told CNN.

One source described the list as “unsurprising,” indicating that it was composed of a number of names that had already been out in the public space, many of which Trump himself had floated. While the campaign is tracking names, multiple sources cautioned that the former president would ultimately make the decision on whom he would share the ticket with whether they were vetted or not.

Trump has indicated privately that he will announce a vice presidential pick in the early summer before the Republican convention, three sources told CNN.

Trump and those in his inner circle had at one point considered an announcement of his running mate shortly after he had secured enough delegates to win the GOP presidential nomination, and advisers say that Trump may yet decide on an earlier announcement.

Trump allies argue that there are pros and cons to each timeline. An early announcement would mean being able to potentially fundraise off that selection — especially helpful as his team struggles to compete financially with President Joe Biden’s campaign.

Announcing later, though, can create suspense and increase attention around the former president as Republicans jockey to serve as his second-in-command.

Recently, Trump has told allies that it does not matter whom he picks as his running mate, indicating that it is him alone who will carry the 2024 Republican ticket, multiple sources told CNN.

“Trump knows that people who are going to vote for him are going to vote for him, and those who aren’t are not going to change their mind because of a running mate,” one source close to the former president told CNN.

However, sources noted Trump’s political savvy and said he would looking for a running mate’s potential to help him with specific voting blocs with whom he is more vulnerable.

A surprise name

Some close to the former president were most surprised by how seriously Trump is considering Rubio, the Florida senator who clashed heavily with him during the 2016 GOP presidential primary.

After announcing his third presidential bid, Trump privately expressed anger toward Rubio for not endorsing him early on, often pointing out to advisers that he had held an event for the senator in Miami ahead of his last election. Rubio endorsed Trump earlier this year.

However, Trump’s consideration of Rubio is “very much real,” as one source with direct knowledge of the discussions told CNN.

“He likes Rubio because he’s Hispanic, young, a good speaker, natural charisma,” a senior Trump adviser said.

The former president recently went as far as to acknowledge there would be a delegate issue with selecting Rubio because the two are both residents of Florida, a second source briefed on the matter said, something some of Trump’s senior advisers also pointed out.

There is no law preventing a president and vice president of the US being from the same state. However, Article II of the Constitution prevents electors in each state from voting for two people from the same state.

The rule would be even more relevant in a close election, and the Trump campaign currently predicts that the 2024 race will be close, according to conversations with multiple Trump advisers.

Responding to reports about his name being floated, Rubio told conservative radio host Glenn Beck that “anybody who gets a chance to serve as vice president of the United States should consider that an honor.”

The senator added: “I have never spoken either to President Trump or anybody on his campaign about this or anybody else that they’re considering for vice president.”

Multiple allies have attempted to pitch Trump on South Carolina’s Scott, who is believed to be under consideration. However, one source who discussed Scott with Trump said he seemed uninterested during their conversation. Others close to the former president disagreed with this read and noted that Trump has been incredibly impressed by Scott as a surrogate after the senator suspended his own 2024 presidential campaign.

Outside of a potential vice president, there will be hundreds of administration jobs to fill if Trump is elected, and Trump-aligned organizations are hard at work vetting applicants to build out potential staff. It is expected that Trump’s team will draw heavily from a database of loyalist applicants being compiled by Project 2025, a transition effort run by the conservative Heritage Foundation. One of Trump’s most trusted former aides, John McEntee, is consulting on the personnel part of the project.

This story has been updated.

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