Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024

Trump eyes Rep. Elise Stefanik as a potential VP pick: ‘She’s a killer’

By 37ci3 Jan 18, 2024



WASHINGTON — During a candlelit dinner with members of Mar-a-Lago in late December, former President Donald Trump walked around the table as the conversation turned to one of the biggest decisions he will make if he becomes the Republican nominee: Who should he choose to be his running mate?

That’s when Rep. Elise Stefanik, an out-of-state Republican from New York, came up, according to one person at the dinner table. Those around Trump admired his viral moment a few weeks ago when he grilled three university presidents at a congressional hearing. antisemitism on campus.

Trump, who thought Stefanik was a possible choice for vice president, nodded in approval.

“He’s a killer,” he said, according to an attendee.

Since then, Trump and a growing group of allies have begun to look more closely at Stefanik as a candidate, according to eight people familiar with the matter, including people in Trump’s orbit, Stefanik fundraisers and former Trump administration officials.

At the time, the 39-year-old congressman was on the crest of a national publicity wave after hosting top executives from Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. answers to the question: “Are calls to the genocide of the Jews violated?” [your college’s] violence and harassment rules?’ which resulted in the resignation of two of them and brought criticism of the schools.

But Stefanik was on Trump’s radar long before this hearing because she has one of the key attributes he’s looking for in the 2024 nomination: loyalty. That, when mixed with his ability to control the news on key issues, could be an irresistible mix for a vice presidential pick.

“Stefanik is on top,” said Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief White House strategist and architect of his 2016 campaign strategy.

“If you’re Trump, you want someone who’s loyal above all else,” said a Republican campaign official. “Especially because he sees Mike Pence committing a mortal sin.”

On Wednesday, after this story was published, Stefanik announced that he would He is campaigning with Trump in New Hampshire.

Stefanik, a moderate Republican who once worked on Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, moved to the right and rebranded himself as one of Trump’s top allies on Capitol Hill after winning the White House in 2016.

“He’s come a long way, and now he’s really with us,” Trump said during a spring 2022 dinner, according to a source familiar with the comments, adding, “He used to be good with us, but he’s really with us now. “

Stefanik declined to comment on whether she would be interested in being Trump’s running mate, telling NBC News that she is focused on her role in Congress.

“I will not have any conversation with President Trump. I am honored to call him a friend. I’m proud to be the first member of Congress to endorse him for re-election, and he won big in Iowa. So we’re very excited,” he said.

A spokesman for the Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Stephanie’s loyalty is open – inclusive Interviewed on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program this month – and stands in stark contrast to Pence, who has become a target of Trump and his supporters after refusing to join Trump’s plan to deny Joe Biden a 2020 presidential victory. The former vice president, for his part, frequently criticized Trump and his election denials during his short-lived presidential run last year.

And Stefanik has been known as one of the main crusaders defending Trump in Congress for years; he served on Trump’s impeachment defense team in 2019 and supported his efforts to nullify the 2020 election, which led to the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

He did not rule out “Meet the press” interview he will be the running mate of the former president.

“Of course, I would be honored to serve in any capacity in the Trump administration,” Stefanik said.

Stefanik drew attention for that interview by repeating the language of the president who called the defendants on January 6 “hostages”. On Wednesday, Rep. Dan Goldman, D-N.Y., announced he would introduce a resolution to censure Stefanik — a move that could make him even more popular among Trump’s base.

This show of loyalty includes his refusal to endorse an “unconstitutional” presidential election in 2020. and potentially in 2024 — that showcases the New York representative’s ability to seize moments to advance Trump’s interests and dispatch his enemies, and appears to have put him ahead of the competition.

The December dinner wasn’t the first time Trump brought up Stefanik as both a loyal confidant and a possible VP candidate, according to another person who attended past events they both attended.

On June 6, 2022, at an event at the Trump House for Stefanik’s joint fundraising committee Golf Course In Briarcliff Manor, New York, a source in attendance said the former president was watching attendees as he approached his decision to run for president.

“What Trump has consistently mentioned is how good he would be as vice president,” this person said.

Trump spoke at length about Stefanik’s prospects for higher office two years ago, telling attendees at a Mar-a-Lago fundraiser attended by Stefanik that he could be the next president after 2024, the chairman of the New York State Conservative Party confirmed. Gerry Cassar.

And in November, Stefanik as the chairman of the Republican Conference of the House of Representatives confirmed Trump for the presidency. At that time, he was the highest-ranking Congress leader to endorse him in the primary.

Stefanik’s loyalty was on display in the courtroom as he fought against Trump-fighting judges and prosecutors.

Stefanik has been in recent months he followed Attorney General Merrick Garland, the judge presiding over the civil fraud case against Trump in New York to investigate former president fixer Michael Cohen and filed a complaint against the federal judge overseeing the grand jury to indict Trump by special counsel Jack Smith.

“Stefanik obviously brings incredible talent on many levels from the House and knows how to defend President Trump and the MAGA movement,” Bannon said. “And most importantly, he knows how to play what I call the unforgivable moment, when you have to make that decision to go all out.”

“He picks his shots and knows where his leverage is,” Bannon continued. “And he understands something that is very rare today, modern communications. He knows what can make an impact. So he’s obviously a huge talent.”

His House GOP colleagues said Stefanik would be a great asset to Trump because he knows him well, trusts him and will bring a deep knowledge of Capitol Hill to the ticket.

“Very intelligent, very articulate, he did a great job as conference chairman. And if President Trump were to pick him as his running mate, I think it would be a great team,” Rep. Kevin Hearn, R-Okla., chairman of the Hill’s largest conservative caucus, said in an interview.

“He has an incredible work ethic in the House … and is very well respected in the Senate,” he said.

In New York, Stefanik is known not only in his district but throughout the state as a frequent presence and approachable.

“He’s someone I really message with,” Kassar said, adding that especially with fundraising, Stefanik “goes out of his way to help.”

For Trump, bringing in Stefanik could also bolster his already formidable fundraising operation.

Stefanik’s team announced in the fourth quarter of 2023 that it had raised more than $5 million. The funds coincided with Stefanik’s high-profile moment with university rectors.

Aside from Stefanik, Bannon reviewed Trump’s deep bench of potential VP picks. He mentioned South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn and Arizona Senate candidate Kari Lake as other possibilities.

He also said not to count out Nikki Haley, who has garnered strong support from Wall Street and other right-wing business and media corners.

“What MAGA needs to do is make sure President Trump fully considers the alternatives because he’s going to be under a lot of pressure from donors to pick Nikki Haley and Fox,” Bannon said. “They are currently profiling him. This is Nikki Haley’s channel.”

Like Haley, Stefanik could be a bridge for some donors who aren’t quite sold on Trump. Still where Trump is was burned Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, an opponent in the GOP primary, praised Stefanik for his political acumen as “untrustworthy and disloyal.”

Stefanik’s New York roots and success over a district that twice voted for Barack Obama for president could be another draw as Trump seeks to reverse a slide in Biden’s popularity among some voters in the traditionally blue state.

“He is a tent maker. He expands the party in many ways,” Gavin Wax, president of the Young Republicans Club of New York, said of Stefanik.

“Haley’s name was thrown around a lot because they were looking for someone who could win over a certain demographic of voters that Trump was fighting to get on the ticket, but I think Nikki Haley brought to the table everything Elise could bring to the table — no votes from the base, MAGA or more conservative voters. without giving,” Wax said.

Roger Stone, a veteran Republican strategist who has long been loyal to the former president, said Stefanik has also shown he is willing to go on the carpet for Trump. Still, Stone said there’s a long way to go.

“In my opinion, any short list should have Elise Stefanik,” Stone said. “He showed courage and leadership qualities. But it’s also very, very early in the process.”

Trump said at a recent town hall in Iowa that he already knows who it is running mate will, though a Trump campaign adviser later retracted that, saying, “Nothing has been finalized.”

While Trump has teased a decision, those who know him best say a public announcement is not expected for some time.

“When does the Congress start?” Then you make a choice,” Bannon said. “This is Trump, he’s going to be ‘The Apprentice.’ It will be in the last episode.”





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