Sun. May 19th, 2024

GOP VP hopefuls in Congress burnish their credentials while currying favor with Trump

By 37ci3 May12,2024


WASHINGTON — For congressional leaders, weekly press conferences are a time to set the policy agenda, deliver a message and contrast the opposing party.

For vice presidential candidate Elise Stefanik, chairwoman of the House Republican Conference, they’re also an opportunity to go on camera and praise Donald Trump.

Donald Trump gestures during a rally
Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Freeland, Mich., on May 1, 2024. Paul Sancia / AP

“America is rallying in support of President Trump to save America and get Joe Biden out of office,” Stefanik, RN.Y., told reporters in opening remarks at a recent news conference, before turning to legislative work to congratulate him on winning the primary contest. Stefanik also used her seat on the House education committee to tap into the conservative zeitgeist by confronting college presidents during televised hearings, and emboldened several. resignations amid campus protests against Israel and Gaza.

Elise Stefanik during a press conference at the US Capitol
Rep. Elise Stefanik, RN.Y., gained national attention after grilling college presidents during the hearing.Francis Chung/Politico via AP

And he is not alone. Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Sen. Tim Scott, RSC, and Rep. Other vice presidential prospects like Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., are using it, too. In Congress, they have been given the opportunity to burn their credentials to appeal to Trump. This includes using their sound cards, committee seats, procedural tools and, perhaps most importantly, the ability to go on television to speak to an audience. “He understands that the devil is in the details. So he’s putting his brilliant bride in charge of our RNC apparatus,” Scott said on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show after installing Trump. Lara Trump As the new co-chair of the Republican National Committee.

“At the end of the day, you want the ball in the hands of the best player on the field. That player is Donald Trump,” he added as the VP appeared on the wiretap tape.

For decades, Capitol Hill has been a strong launching pad for vice presidential candidates. Five of the seven elected in the past two decades were sitting members of Congress. The sixth, Mike Pence, was a former member who became governor of Indiana. Going back to 1992, 10 of the 11 running mates had experience serving in Congress (the exception was Alaska Governor Sarah Palin in 2008).

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., Hillary Clinton’s running mate in 2016, said the nature of GOP jockeying on Capitol Hill is “different” than in the past.

“Normally, it’s not a good thing to be too bold about your ambitions. But Donald Trump is not a normal person. So I think the jockey is very unusual, but that’s what people understand about Trump,” Kaine said in an interview. “The way to impress him is not to be a loyal soldier who works with his head down. The way to impress him is really to flatter him and indulge him.”

Tim Scott at the Family Leadership Summit in Des Moines, Iowa
Sen. Tim Scott, RSC, is considered a potential VP pick for Trump.Scott Olson/Getty Images file

Greene is a far-right congressman He expressed his interest in becoming a VP, House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., tried to curry favor with Trump in a week-long push, accusing him of betraying the GOP and the MAGA movement. His push failed Wednesday as overwhelming majorities of Republicans and Democrats voted to reject his proposal. Trump has steered clear of confrontations, voicing support for both sides. “I absolutely love Marjorie Taylor Greene,” Trump said on social media after the vote closed, adding that “this is not the time” to abandon her petition. speaker’s chair.

Vance, a former Trump critic-turned staunch ally in the 2022 primary, took to Sunday’s show to align with a central theme of Trump’s campaign: that Congress should not have endorsed Biden in 2020 even if he had won.

“If I were the vice president, I would tell Pennsylvania, Georgia, and many other states that we need to have more constituencies, and I think the U.S. Congress should be fighting for that,” Vance said. he said Recently on ABC’s “This Week.” “It’s a legitimate way to deal with an election that a lot of people, myself included, think has a lot of problems in 2020.”

In contrast, Rubio and Scott voted overwhelmingly in the Senate to confirm Biden’s victory, hours after police cleared the Jan. 6 rioters from the Capitol. Stefanik and Greene were among 139 House Republicans who voted to override the 2020 results. Allegations of Trump’s denial of the election have been a central theme of his campaign as he vows to exact revenge on his enemies. Scott and Rubio noted. Scott repeatedly refused to say on NBC’s “Meet The Press” this month, saying whether he would accept the outcome of the 2024 election. Rubio he said Some of the January 6 defendants were “heavily charged” for trespassing on the Capitol grounds, ABC said.

Vance has also positioned himself as an outspoken opponent of US aid to Ukraine, in solidarity with many Trump voters.

JD Vance at the US Capitol Building
Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, said he would not endorse Biden in 2020.Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images file

The recent vote on the aid package for Ukraine and Israel highlighted the differences. Vance and Rubio voted against it, while Scott voted in favor but did not vote. In the House, where bills were destroyed, Stefanik voted to help Israel, not Ukraine. Greene voted against both measures statementScott blasted Biden: “Congress’ effort to support our allies should be applauded, but President Biden’s foreign policy has been a total failure.”

Rubio’s no votes on aid to Ukraine and Israel underscore his evolution since 2016, when he cast himself as an outspoken foreign policy hawk who advocated an active US role in shaping world affairs. Critics accuse Rubio of leaning toward MAGA-style nationalism, but Rubio’s allies say his views reflect changing realities in the United States and around the world.

Among the rumored VP candidates this year, Rubio has been less reserved about Trump, leaning instead on his legislative resume. He used his perch as the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee to emphasize his hawkish approach ChinaAs an early supporter of a bill to ban TikTok, a popular app owned by a Beijing-based company that answers to the Chinese Communist Party. Allies note that he helped to form Some parts of the 2017 tax cuts, Trump’s major domestic achievement as president.

Part of Rubio and Scott’s appeal is that both are well-liked by Republican donors who are skeptical of Trump and his MAGA movement. This is less true of Vance and Greene.

But Rubio also shies away from criticizing Trump and is quick to dismiss questions from reporters about his controversial or offensive statements. He seems conscious of his red line to not lend any legitimacy to the dozens of criminal charges Trump faces. Rubio even supported Trump’s broad claims presidential immunity from prosecution for potentially committing a crime.

“Hillary told me there are better political choices than you, but if something happens to me, you’d be a good president. That’s not how Donald Trump approaches it,” Kaine said. “He will approach it like this: ‘Who will be the most loyal to me?’ When it looks like running for office, you can’t even say you’ll follow the results of the election? This is very dangerous.”





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