Now that Donald Trump has officially kicked off his third campaign for the presidency, one of the few certainties about what he will do if he wins the GOP nomination in 2024 is that he won’t be running with his former vice president, Mike Pence.
Not only has Mr Pence said he is giving “prayerful consideration” to declaring himself a presidential candidate in the next general election, but the Trump-Pence relationship has not been strong since the former vice president refused to hijack certification of electoral votes, leading to the January 6 attack on the Capitol.
According to reporting in Politico and other news outlets, the twice-impeached ex-president who stood atop the 2020 GOP ticket is now looking for a far more subservient partner than the former Indiana governor, whose selection as his running mate in 2016 was driven by a desire to reassure social conservatives that Mr Trump was on board with their programme despite his history as an abortion-friendly Democratic donor.
Last year, ex-Trump adviser Michael Caputo said anyone Mr Trump would consider selecting would “have to denounce what happened in 2020” — meaning fully endorse the ex-president’s oft-repeated lies about the election he lost having been stolen from him.
Here are a few candidates who could fit the bill:
Marjorie Taylor Greene
Ms Greene, a Georgia congresswoman who recently won her second term in the House despite having been stripped of committee assignments for a series of bizarre and controversial statements she made before and after joining Congress, has said she would be “honored” to run alongside Mr Trump.
Asked about the possibility during an interview on the right-wing Real America’s Voice network, Ms Greene said she would “definitely give that some strong consideration” if asked.
“I defend him all the time. I swear I would fight for that man because he fought for us, and that’s the kind of president we need back, and if [he] were to ask me [to be vice president], of course, I would be honoured,” she added.
The CrossFit gym owner turned legislator’s lack of experience would not be a bar for Mr Trump, who no longer needs to have a more senior partner at his side. And even though members of the House haven’t traditionally been successful vice-presidential picks, there is precedent for such a choice. In 2012, Mitt Romney (now a senator from Utah) picked Paul Ryan (a future House Speaker who was then chair of the House Budget Committee) as his running mate, but they lost to Barack Obama and Joe Biden.
Another House member, Ms Stefanik was elected to chair the House GOP conference after Mr Trump demanded they oust her predecessor, Liz Cheney, because of her frequent criticism of him.
The New York representative is also one of a small number of GOP officeholders who have endorsed Mr Trump since his announcement earlier this month.
“It’s very clear President Trump is the leader of the Republican party,” Ms Stefanik said in a statement. She added that it was “time for Republicans to unite around the most popular Republican in America, who has a proven track record of conservative governance.”
Mr Flynn, a retired US Army general, shot to fame in conservative circles after he endorsed Mr Trump at the 2016 GOP convention, and was rewarded with a plum post as his national security adviser.
That didn’t last, however, and Mr Trump fired him after it was revealed that he’d lied to Mr Pence about conversations he’d had with the Russian ambassador to the US.
Mr Flynn later pleaded guilty to charges that he’d lied to the FBI about the same conversations, but Mr Trump pardoned him before he ever had to serve a day in prison. In the Trump administration ‘s final days, he was seen on right-wing TV and around the White House pushing for Mr Trump to declare martial law and seize voting machines to keep himself in power.
Since 2021, he has been traveling the country as part of a QAnon-loving extremist roadshow, but his messianic status among the most faithful Maga adherents and his willingness to protect Mr Trump at all costs could see him restored to the highest echelons of Trumpworld.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders
Ms Sanders earned her electoral bones earlier this month by becoming the governor-elect of Arkansas, her home state, where her father Mike Huckabee once held the job she will soon start.
But before her foray into electoral politics (with Mr Trump’s blessing and endorsement) she was once his fiercest defender, taking to the White House briefing room to tell any lie she needed to tell to get the Trump White House through the news cycle (until she stopped holding briefings entirely).
Though she will only have served two years in the governor’s mansion when 2024 rolls around, if Mr Trump wants a loyal running mate who is unafraid of reputational damage, Ms Sanders could fit the bill.
Tulsi Gabbard, who represented Hawaii in the US House as a Democrat until January 2021, is also reported to be in the running.
After campaigning for the Democratic nomination in 2020, she left the party last year.
Ms Gabbard has grabbed the attention of Mr Trump during her appearances on Fox News, specifically when she stepped in to host Tucker Carlson’s show, The Daily Beast noted.
A friend of Ms Gabbard who campaign for her in New Hampshire, Eric Jackman, told the outlet that independent voters wanted a Trump-Gabbard team as much as they wanted her to team up with Independent Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, the runner-up for the Democratic nomination in 2016 and 2020.
Mr Jackman told The Daily Beast that Ms Gabbard would be able to connect with younger independents wanting someone “who is of the 9/11 generation, served in the military and would be very hesitant to offer advice to a commander-in-chief to go invade or overthrow another country”.
“Me, speaking personally, I’d love to see her at the top of the ticket,” he added. “But if it meant her at the top of the ticket with another Republican, yeah, you know, my experience is people who are Tulsi Gabbard supporters are very past partisan politics, they don’t like partisanship, they don’t like to be pinned down by a label.”
A Republican strategist said choosing Ms Gabbard would be similar to President Joe Biden removing Vice President Kamala Harris from the ticket and instead go with one of former Republican Representatives Adam Kinzinger of Illinois or Liz Cheney of Wyoming.
“Sure, they stand up for you on a couple issues, but they hate you on everything else,” the strategist told The Daily Beast. “Cool, but let’s not give away the farm here.”