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As Trump narrows the number of VP searches, his shortlist is almost exclusively male

As Trump narrows the number of VP searches, his shortlist is almost exclusively male

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By Gram Slattery, Alexandra Ulmer and Nathan Layne

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – When the topic of Donald Trump’s potential running mate came up at a fundraiser in Manhattan last week, the Republican presidential candidate gave high marks to contenders including North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum and U.S. Senator Tim Scott .

Some of the wealthy donors said Trump should pick former primary rival Nikki Haley as his No. 2. Ties between the two had soured because she had challenged him, but she had served as his loyal UN ambassador for two years while he was president.

Trump, 77, largely rejected the idea and suggested the group move forward, two donors familiar with the interaction said.

Trump had previously expressed interest in choosing a woman as his running mate for the Nov. 5 election, and some allies urged him to do so with an eye to boosting his standing among female voters.

Trump’s standing with that key voting bloc was further clouded by his conviction last week in a trial in New York, where he was accused of covering up a payment intended to influence the 2016 election by silencing a porn star who claimed to have had sex while married – a relationship he denies.

His current VP shortlist, however, is almost exclusively men, according to nine people who have spoken to Trump or his team in recent weeks, including donors, lobbyists and campaign aides.

U.S. Sen. J.D. Vance of Ohio and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida have emerged as top contenders for the vice presidential nomination, said the nine people, who requested anonymity to recount private conversations.

Several of these people said Burgum and Scott of South Carolina remain in contention, while U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York are dark horse contenders, two people said.

Trump’s team has sent surveillance materials to top candidates, according to three people with knowledge of the matter, a move first reported by NBC News. Rubio, Burgum and Stefanik are among those who received the material, sources told Reuters.

Several sources emphasized the fluid nature of the vice-presidential deliberations and said new names could come in and out of the conversation quickly.

Trump has said there is a “good chance” he will announce a running mate at the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee in mid-July. His campaign declined to share details of the search.

“Anyone who claims to know who or when President Trump will choose his vice president is lying, unless the person’s name is Donald J. Trump,” Trump senior adviser Brian Hughes said.

All potential vice presidential candidates declined to comment or did not respond to requests for comment.

MALE TICKET ONLY?

During his term in office and during his 2024 campaign, Trump has proven significantly more popular among men than women, a gender gap that many around him are eager to close. In a response to NBC last September, Trump said he liked the “concept” of a female running mate.

“Women will determine the outcome of these elections. The only real solution for Trump is a woman,” said a source briefed on the deliberations, who lamented how few women were seriously considered.

Two people who recently spoke to Trump said he wants personal chemistry and the ability to get along with his possible vice president.

They said the former president believes a No. 2 pick is more likely to hurt a candidacy than substantially help it. As a result, they said, he is looking for a permanent operator rather than a potentially risky pick that could ultimately hurt his chances of taking back the White House from President Joe Biden.

Biden, a Democrat, is again running for Vice President Kamala Harris, the first woman to serve in that role.

Trump’s former Vice President Mike Pence publicly broke with Trump over the then-president’s role in the January 6, 2021 riot at the US Capitol and has said he will not support his former boss in the upcoming election.

Some of the women Trump considered for the Republican ticket this time made mistakes that left them largely out of contention, according to interviews with the nine people who had contact with Trump or his advisers.

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem was widely criticized after revealing in an autobiography that she killed a dog over obedience issues. Critics of U.S. Sen. Katie Britt of Alabama said her televised response to Biden’s State of the Union address seemed overrehearsed and tonally uneven.

Neither Noem nor Britt responded to requests for comment.

While many campaign backers have pushed Trump to pick Haley, a more traditional conservative with long-standing ties to the donor community, other advisers have publicly pulled out, including the president’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., who one source said is biased faced Vance. .

Haley is one of the few high-profile Republicans to remain silent after Trump was found guilty last week. She was Trump’s latest rival in a contentious Republican primary, but said in May she would vote for him in November.

(Reporting by Gram Slattery in Washington, Alexandra Ulmer in San Francisco and Nathan Layne in Wilton, Conn.; Additional reporting by Steve Holland and Tim Reid in Washington; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Howard Goller)