US Politics

Republican Vice President: Who will be Trump's pick?

Donald Trump
Paul Krishnamurty analyses the leading contenders to be Donald Trump's VP pick

Donald Trump's VP shortlist is shortening by the day but the race is still wide-open according to the Betfair Exchange odds. Paul Krishnamurty runs the rule over the leading contenders...

  • Betting still wide-open despite shortlist

  • Back loyalty and reliability over foreign policy

  • Thiel's MAGA protege could be the one

We are entering the final stretch of what has arguably been the most exciting market of the US Election thus far. Unlike regular politics markets, polls or elections are all but irrelevant. Instead we need to predict the mind of one man. In this case, the most psycho-analysed on Earth.

Our betting list remains wide-open with the leading five candidates taking out 60% of the book. Others have crashed and burned. Kristi Noem was favourite for months, backed down to 4.57/2 but is now out to 80.079/1.

It is assumed her book, in which she boasts about shooting her own dog and dubiously claims to have met Kim Jong-Un, has killed her chance. However making that judgement assumes Trump's mind. He's not known for liking dogs and does like Kim Jong Un.

Usually an important consideration is the potential for a candidate to improve the chance of winning a critical state. Yet nobody competitive in the betting offers that. Only Marco Rubio and J.D.Vance represent vaguely marginal states, but both Florida and Ohio are strongly expected to vote for Trump regardless, and would have to for him to win. So what is he looking for?

Will Trump pick a woman?

Joe Biden chose a balanced ticket for both gender and race with Kamala Harris. Trump picked another white man previously with Mike Pence. No woman has been on a Republican presidential ticket since Sarah Palin in 2008.

Only two are in serious betting contention. Tulsi Gabbard has been a long-range tip of mine for years at 40+ odds. A former Democrat, of part-Samoan descent, she would completely break the mould. Trump breaks moulds. Once seen as very much on the Left, she could appeal to parts of the electorate usually beyond Republicans.

Gabbard has also been consistently, reliably on message with Trump. Particularly when it comes to Russia. She produced a slick, instant video denouncing the Mueller Report into Russian interference in the 2016 election. When Democrats first impeached Trump over blackmailing Ukraine, Gabbard broke the party line and voted 'Present'.

Elise Stefanik is also rigidly loyal to Trump. The New York Representative has made a name for herself calling out anti-semitic practices in universities and would be a feisty campaigner. I have read reports that Trump doesn't like or trust her, but can't verify the truth. Otherwise, her case is pretty solid.

Who is auditioning well?

According to reports, the shortlisted candidates have been auditioning for Trump at Mar-a-Lago. They are all media surrogates. This is where true, consistent loyalty is important.

Tim Scott has been painstakingly loyal since withdrawing from the primary and endorsing Trump. But Scott's historic record is far from perfectly aligned with Trump - notably on supporting Ukraine.

He does offer something, from balancing the ticket with a black man and helping to re-unite a bitterly divided Republican Party. Scott is part of the Republican establishment, to whom Trump is largely opposed. His endorsement was a big win, when so many former staff are refusing to serve and Nikki Haley is getting 22% in primaries.

However, I'm not convinced that Trump will pick somebody who may not be totally aligned with his agenda and positions. Scott is already really suffering in media interviews, when asked if he will accept the election result.

Trump's running mate will be asked that over and again, whether they condemn or wish to pardon January 6th prisoners. Whether they will disavow white supremacist groups and violence. I also have doubts Rubio or Doug Burgum could pull that off.

Who is influencing Trump?

As I recall, Paul Manafort was the key to picking Mike Pence in 2016. A shrewd move to shore up the evangelical vote. Manafort is a very experienced, sharp strategist and remains very close to Trump, along with his old partner-in-crime Roger Stone. Trump pardoned them both from convictions coming out of the Mueller Inquiry.

Manafort has effectively worked for Vladimir Putin for decades, stemming from his very senior role in Ukraine, advising former President Viktor Yanukovych, who fled to Moscow after the 2013 revolution.

Russia positions could be critical

I expect Manafort, and the network around him, to be pushing the candidates who will most reliably back Trump in abandoning Ukraine and weakening NATO. On that score, it's between Gabbard and Vance.

Ohio Senator Vance has shot up my radar. Backed by the extremely influential billionaire Peter Thiel, he is Trump only 30 years younger. They are building the next generation of MAGA. Vance pushes Kremlin talking points as a matter of course and will unashamedly defend all of those positions passionately. His network will finance the campaign and amplify it online.

What about Trump's ego?

The negative in Vance's case is that Trump may envy this younger version of his self, or distrust his ambition. That could also apply to a real billionaire in Burgum. Likewise in Rubio's case, the 2016 footage of him mocking Trump's tiny hands and likening him to a second-hand watch salesman can't be positives.

Who should he pick? For me, Ben Carson. 'Gentle Ben' is the antithesis of Trump. A black neurosurgeon. The evangelicals threw money at him in 2016. He could only improve the ticket. I'm sceptical he'll be the one. I think Vance or Gabbard, with Russia-Ukraine, ending NATO and the Thiel network being the decisive factors.

Now Read UK General Election 2024: Five takeaways from the local elections

Follow Paul on Twitter and check out his website, Political Gambler.

Recommended bets


New customers only. Bet £10 on the Betfair Sportsbook at odds of min EVS (2.0) and receive £40 in FREE Bet Builders, Accumulators or Multiples to use on any sport. T&Cs apply.

Prices quoted in copy are correct at time of publication but liable to change.