Politics

Insiders predict this ‘powerhouse’ Republican would bring major boost as Trump VP pick

Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of profiles of potential running mates for presidential candidate Donald Trump on the 2024 Republican Party ticket.

A potential name on former President Trump’s running mate shortlist is being described by political insiders as a ‘powerhouse’ that could bring a major boost to his chances at retaking the White House.

The horse race among those hoping to be named Trump’s running mate continued this week with the names widely believed to be on the shortlist making the rounds on various media outlets and at public events to praise the former president, including House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik of New York, who some say has a certain ‘attractiveness’ for the role.

‘Stefanik’s position as the fourth-ranking member of the House leadership provides valuable insight into navigating Capitol Hill, which Trump is not known for loving. Historically, Capitol Hill has served as a fertile ground for VP candidates,’ Republican strategist Erine Perrine told Fox News Digital.

Perrine praised Stefanik as ‘a prolific fundraiser,’ which she said could strengthen the campaign’s financial standing heading into the final stretch of the race, and argued her loyalty to the former president would help ensure cohesion among Republicans.

‘Stefanik’s presence also mitigates Democratic attacks on women’s issues,’ she said, alluding to Democrats’ attempts to make abortion a major factor in the race. ‘Her selection would bring a youthful and dynamic image for the Republican Party to help bolster the ticket.’

‘Stefanik built a reputation as a powerhouse in committee hearings, most recently highlighted by her questioning of university presidents. These strengths enhance her credibility and effectiveness as a campaigner,’ she added.

Republican strategist David Polyansky agreed, noting Stefanik, during her time in House leadership, has driven a number of critical fights, and did so despite the turmoil surrounding the role of House speaker.

‘She’s done a very effective job at elevating her profile, which is hard to do, not just from the House, but even from a House leadership standpoint,’ he said. ‘I think she’d be attractive to some of the large donor blocks who may be tentative in terms of how much money they invest.’

‘Having a female vice presidential pick is something I think would be attractive to the party, attractive to donors, attractive from a narrative standpoint. Outside of her gender, she’s a very strong conservative leader, so I think there’s some real value there for Trump,’ he added.

A source close to the Trump campaign also said Stefanik being a woman would be a ‘real positive,’ and that it was ‘a really big deal’ to the former president that she has been a ‘staunch supporter.’

‘I think she would be a very interesting pick. I think out on the campaign trail she would be very effective. I think she would be a net positive to the campaign,’ the source said.

Eric Koch, a Democrat strategist, gave a more critical view of Stefanik’s strengths for the Republican ticket.

‘The positive Elise Stefanik brings to a Trump ticket is obvious: she is willing to say and do anything to defend Donald Trump, no matter how absurd, ridiculous or embarrassing it may be,’ he said. 

‘There is quite literally no low that is too low for her — and this is a quality that Donald Trump not only needs, but demands, from his Vice President. Stefanik will gleefully debase herself in any way in support of Trump.’

Koch said two downsides to Stefanik’s selection, aside from the usual criticism from his party that she is ‘ultra MAGA,’ was that she ‘had almost no accomplishments,’ and that she ‘crumbles in debates and interviews’ when pressed on topics.

One such instance occurred last week on Fox News when Stefanik was pressed by host Shannon Bream about a New York Times report questioning her loyalty to Trump over the years.

‘If Trump was trying to win voters in the middle, there is hardly someone worse he could pick than Stefanik who carries water for the most extreme elements of the House Republicans,’ Koch said.

Perrine, like Koch, said the liberal media and others on the left would likely label her a ‘MAGA extremist,’ but also noted the ‘limited’ impact her selection could have on the electoral map, considering she is from deep-blue New York.

‘Losing her leadership role in the House could disrupt GOP cohesion,’ Perrine added.

Polyansky argued that elevating someone straight from the House into being the first person in the presidential line of succession was ‘a little bit of a stretch.’ He also argued her name recognition could be a problem.

‘She isn’t really well known, even in the base of the Republican Party, so I don’t know that there would be a massive wow factor, which could be major for Trump. I’m not sure that she necessarily gives him that.’

The source close to the Trump campaign agreed it would be ‘difficult’ for Stefanik’s name recognition alone to provide a big bump, but said that could be built up over time.

Stefanik’s office declined to comment for this story, but a source close to her told Fox that her flipping, and holding, a formerly Democrat-controlled district in New York was part of her appeal compared to the other potential names on Trump’s shortlist.

The source noted that Stefanik had more experience on Capitol Hill than Vice President Kamala Harris, and that she could have an immediate impact on implementing Trump’s legislative agenda if selected. 

They also argued that, as a young mom, she has been a strong supporter of IVF and a 15-week abortion ban, rather than the 6-week ban being pushed by other Republicans, a direct counter to Democrats’ focus on abortion.

A number of other big names have also been floated to join Trump on the Republican ticket, including South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, Arkansas Gov. Sarah Sanders, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, Ohio Sen. JD Vance and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

Trump, who spent most of his week sitting on trial in a New York City courtroom while President Biden and Harris are free to hit the campaign trail, is still weighing his running mate options. He suggested earlier this month he might even wait until the July Republican National Convention in Milwaukee to name his pick.

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