OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
“No, I’m running for president.”
That’s the five-word response Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is also running for president, gave when asked recently if he had any interest in potentially being former President Donald Trump’s 2024 running mate.
During an interview on Fox News, DeSantis said he would not be willing to be Trump’s running mate, assuming Trump secures the GOP nomination, and it was offered to DeSantis.
Bartiromo asked, “If President Trump came to you and said, let’s partner up, you be my VP, would you do it?”
After shooting down the idea, DeSantis said, “We need somebody that can serve two terms. We need somebody who can win states like Georgia and Arizona, which President Trump cannot do or did not do, even though candidates like McCain and Romney had no problem winning those states. We need somebody who, and since I’m the only one running, including Donald Trump, everything I’ve promised the voters that I would do as governor of Florida, I’ve delivered on.”
He added, “We delivered budget surpluses, paying down debt, tax cuts, school choice, parents’ rights, banning sanctuary cities, and expanding Second Amendment rights. All along the line, I promised and delivered. And that’s really what we need because the country is in decline.”
The GOP primary field has thinned out in recent weeks.
Over the weekend, former Vice President Mike Pence dropped out of the Republican primary.
Conservative radio host Larry Elder ended his bid for the nomination, saying in an announcement that he will now support Trump, the party’s leading candidate by far.
Perhaps it’s too late now.
Even when he was close to winning the nomination in 2016 when his highest support was 49% in the final CNN poll released the first week of May, Trump is doing better now than he was then. The ex-president’s current approval rating has been above 50% since April. Team Ron DeSantis could not beat Trump even if everyone who is not Donald Trump joined forces like a super Transformer robot.
For his part, Trump recently indicated that he does not see much potential for a running mate among the current crop of Republican candidates contending for the 2024 nomination.
During a recent speech in Michigan, Trump referred to the GOP candidates congregated in California for the second Republican primary debate as “all job candidates.”
“They’ll do anything: secretary of something, they even say VP. Has anyone seen a VP in that group? I don’t think so,” Trump told the crowd at an auto parts plant in Clinton Township.
Steven Cheung, a spokesman for the Trump campaign, told The Washington Post in an email that Trump “was very clear in his remarks” but did not directly address whether the former president is excluding all seven candidates from the debate.
However, one name might be high on his “VP list” — South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem.
During a recent interview, Trump said of Noem: “I think she’s fantastic. She’s been a great governor. She gave me a very full-throated endorsement, a beautiful endorsement. It’s been a very good state for me, and certainly, she would be one of the people I would consider for something else, maybe. We have a lot of great people in the Republican Party.”
Trump teased that he liked “the concept” of selecting a woman as his running mate, but that he’s also looking for “the right person.”
“You always do a little bit, but I don’t think it’s time,” Trump said. “I want to win, and, you know, it’s very interesting about running mates, when you get down to a vice president, they said, ‘Nobody has ever made that kind of a difference.’ It’s still about the person that’s going to be president.”
A recent report from Roll Call speculated that Trump’s “VP list” is likely down to these five Republicans, with Noem’s name likely being near the top:
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem
Arizona Republican Kari Lake
South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott
Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley
New York Rep. Elise Stefanik
Trump has managed to put more distance between him and the rest of the 2024 GOP presidential field in Iowa, where the first primaries will take place early next year, according to a local media report.
“Support for Nikki Haley has swelled in Iowa: The former United Nations ambassador has pulled even with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in what has become a heated battle for second place in the first-in-the-nation caucus state,” the Des Moines Register reported.
“But former President Donald Trump still dominates the race. He’s ahead by 27 percentage points—a lead that has expanded slightly despite his mounting legal problems,” the outlet’s report continued.
The paper cited a new Des Moines Register/NBC News/Mediacom Iowa Poll of likely Republican caucus voters that found 43 percent named Trump as their first choice for president, up slightly from 42 percent in the August poll.
Meanwhile, DeSantis and Haley are tied at 16 percent each. That is a 3-point drop for DeSantis and a 10-point increase for Haley.