Rumor Has It That Trump Has His TOP Pick For VP...

By Lisa Pelgin | Monday, 17 June 2024 10:30 AM
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Image Credit : Photo by WHYY News Network

In the political arena, alliances can shift as quickly as the wind changes direction.

A prime example of this is the evolving relationship between Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and former President Donald Trump. In 2016, the two were fierce competitors in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

Fast forward to the present, and Rubio is now being touted as a potential running mate for Trump, should the latter decide to run for office again.

According to The Hill, Rubio has been a staunch supporter of Trump since the latter's inauguration in 2017. He has consistently defended Trump against criticisms from Democrats and has stood by him through various legal challenges. While Rubio has stated that he has not directly heard from Trump about the possibility of being his running mate, he is reportedly high on the list of potential candidates.

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Political strategists believe that Rubio's background, legislative experience, and political acumen could significantly broaden the ticket's appeal. Florida-based Republican strategist Justin Sayfie was quoted as saying, "I happen to think that he’s the candidate the Biden campaign probably fears the most. Of all the people that President Trump can pick to be his running mate, I think that the Biden campaign probably would not like to see Marco Rubio on the ticket.”

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At 53, Rubio is one of the youngest candidates on Trump's shortlist. His political career began in the Florida state House, where he served for nearly a decade before being elected to the Senate in 2010 with support from the Tea Party faction of the GOP. His strong speaking skills and appeal to racial minorities as a Latino American whose parents were originally from Cuba made him a rising star in the party and a potential future face of the GOP.

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However, Rubio's 2016 presidential run was short-lived. Despite winning a few states, he was unable to keep up with Trump in the primaries and dropped out soon after Super Tuesday. The campaign was marked by personal attacks between the two, with Trump famously deriding him as “little Marco” and Rubio calling Trump a “con artist.” Despite this, Rubio endorsed Trump as the Republican nominee and has been a consistent supporter ever since.

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A former aide to Rubio pointed out that those contentious interactions took place a long time ago, and since then, Rubio has worked with the Trump administration on a variety of substantive issues. These include the Paycheck Protection Program to support small businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic and foreign policy matters. The former aide said, “People used to joke during the Trump administration that Marco’s side-gig was being the State Department’s coordinator for the Western hemisphere.”

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Rubio's potential as a running mate is further underscored by his ability to communicate effectively and his popularity with Trump. The former aide added, “He’s a very talented communicator, does a great job carrying the message and is well-liked by Trump. Obviously, I think it could be hugely helpful to the Hispanic vote, which could be decisive.”

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In March, NBC reported that Rubio was moving up the list of potential choices, according to multiple people familiar with Trump’s selection process. Rubio responded to the report by saying that he had not spoken to anyone in Trump’s orbit about the possibility, but “I think anybody who would be offered that should be honored.”

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More recently, Rubio was among a group of Republicans rumored to be on Trump’s shortlist who visited him at Mar-a-Lago at a private lunch event seen as an audition for possible running mates. Rubio has also been one of the few contenders who have appeared on political talk shows defending Trump while the former president has been occupied with his New York trial.

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GOP strategist Jason Cabel Roe believes that Rubio's compelling personal backstory and communication skills make him a strong candidate. He said, “And he’s respected on Capitol Hill and could be an effective advocate for his agenda in Congress when Trump wins.”

Rubio's parents fled Cuba in the late 1950s during the rule of military dictator Fulgencio Batista, just a couple of years before Fidel Castro took power in the Cuban Revolution. His biography on his Senate website notes that his grandfather, who was still in the country at the time of the revolution, inspired him to serve in public office. His father worked as a banquet bartender, and his mother took care of his family while working as a hotel maid and briefly a factory worker. Sayfie said, “He has a classic American story of being the child of immigrants and rising into one of the most powerful positions in our government.”

However, if Trump chooses Rubio as his running mate, they will need to address the Constitution’s restriction on presidential and vice-presidential candidates residing in the same state. The 12th Amendment prohibits electors from casting a ballot for two individuals from the same state as them. This means that if Rubio is chosen, at least one of them would likely need to change their residence to be qualified for the ballot in Florida.

Republican strategist Ford O’Connell, also based in Florida, said he doesn’t expect Trump to take a chance in a race that will be decided by “inches” if a way to satisfy constitutional requirements is not clear, but “if they can find a workaround that is plausible for both, he is certainly in the conversation.”

O’Connell also pointed out that Rubio appears to be clearly interested in the position. He referred to an interview Rubio gave on “Meet the Press” last month in which he wrangled with Kristen Welker over accepting the results of the 2024 election.

O’Connell said, “It wasn’t too long ago that Marco Rubio was considered the future of the Republican Party, and as such, he has access to a robust fundraising network.” He compared the power of Rubio's fundraising network to that of North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum’s vast personal wealth.

From an electoral standpoint, Rubio could be the key to securing the 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency. If chosen, Rubio would be the first Latino to serve on a major party ticket. This could be a significant advantage in the battleground states of Arizona and Nevada, where Hispanics and Latinos are key constituencies.

Analysts agree that despite Rubio and several other potential choices avoiding a direct answer on the possibility of serving, the race is on for the job, and he’s in it. O’Connell said, “The first thing about Fight Club is you don’t talk about Fight Club. They have not decided who is going to be, but everyone knows that they’re auditioning.”

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