Donald Trump may be zeroing in on a potential running mate, and it’s probably not the person that would come straight to mind. While many commentators have wondered if Vivek Ramaswamy or Nikki Haley could be at the top of the list for the Number Two spot on the Trump ticket, another young Republican appears to have caught the former president’s attention.
Congresswoman from New York Elise Stefank, who will be hitting the campaign trail for Trump later this week in New Hampshire.
NBC News writes: that during a candlelit dinner with Mar-a-Lago members in late December, former President Donald Trump walked around the table as the conversation turned to one of the biggest decisions he’d have to make should he become the Republican nominee: Whom should he pick to be his running mate?
That’s when Rep. Elise Stefanik, the hard-charging upstate New York Republican, came up, according to a person at the dinner table. Attendees around Trump raved about her viral moment just weeks before, when she grilled three university presidents at a congressional hearing about antisemitism on campus.
At the thought of Stefanik as a possible choice for vice president, Trump nodded approvingly.
“She’s a killer,” Trump said, according to the person at the event.
Stefanik became a household name over the past few months when she confronted three liberal presidents in charge of some of America’s most prestigious universities over their failure to protect Jewish students on campus.
Steve Bannon, who remains a close adviser to Trump, recently said that Stefanik is at the top of the list. “If you’re Trump, you want someone who’s loyal above all else. Particularly because he sees Mike Pence as having made a fatal sin.”
The sin being that Pence did not block the certification of the election in 2020.
Another name that has been bandied about for Trump’s vice president, Nikki Haley, has been loudly opposed by some of the former president’s closest advisers, especially Donald Trump, Jr.
UPDATE — Don Jr responds to Lara Trump saying "never say never" when asked if Nikki Haley might be Trump's VP:
— Citizen Free Press (@CitizenFreePres) December 13, 2023
Stefanik, in a way, could “unite the clans.” She started her career in politics as a protege of former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. In 2021, The Washington Post noted that “Stefanik had been a top campaign adviser to Ryan (R-Wis.), but after the GOP ticket lost, she moved back to her parents’ home in northern New York. She overcame that despair by following the path set by Ryan, who, at the age of 28, moved home from Washington to run for Congress on an inspirational vision for Republican ideas.”
“I was 29 at the time, and instead of complaining about the state of American politics from the sidelines, I started the process of running for Congress,” Stefanik (R-N.Y.) told a crowd of young GOP staff in March 2016. She then introduced then Speaker Ryan as “a happy warrior who understands the power of an idea, the power of the American idea.”
Over the past few years, however, Stefanik has moved away from the Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan mold and allied herself with Trump.
Stefanik first caught Trump’s eye during the 2019 impeachment vote, and that move paid off a few years later when Republicans moved to oust Liz Cheney from the Number Three spot in GOP House leadership in 2021, garnering the president’s full support.
“Elise Stefanik is a far superior choice, and she has my COMPLETE and TOTAL endorsement for GOP Conference Chair,” Trump wrote in a statement at the time.
The Post explained that Stefanik “no longer wants to be identified with the traditional conservatives who served as her mentors. Instead, she wants to be placed squarely in Trump’s “America First” movement.
Her pivot maps precisely with her constituents in her state’s North Country.
New York’s 21st Congressional District used to be a Democratic stronghold, delivering a six-percentage-point margin for President Barack Obama when Stefanik worked for Ryan in 2012. Trump won the district by double-digit margins in 2016 and 2020.”
Influential liberals, like the presidents of Harvard and Penn, have underestimated Stefanik before and two of them are no longer standing. Is a young, conservative “killer” just what the doctor ordered for the flagging Trump campaign?
The New York congresswoman refused to divulge if she’s talked to Trump about the move: “I’m not going to get into any of my conversations with President Trump. I’m honoured to call him a friend. I’m proud to be the first member of Congress to have endorsed his re-election, and he had a huge win in Iowa. So we’re very excited about that.”