As the increasingly irrelevant 2024 Presidential primary season trundles along, the question of a potential running mate for former President Donald Trump presents itself. Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY) has come up in conjunction with the #2 slot, a possibility that Bonchie on January 17 found less than stellar. I respectfully disagree.
Choosing a running mate involves two factors, or at least ought to do so. A vice president should have the capacity to assume the highest office in the land should the president pass away or become incapacitated. I say should, as the thought of Kamala Harris in the Oval Office should suffice to ruin any thinking person’s sleep. The other factor has nothing to do with the office. Over the centuries, vice president selections have often been as much for what they add to the ticket as any enhancement to the executive branch. This has led to some odd couples. A prime example was the 1960 Democratic combination of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, paring a handsome young New England-bred war hero with a veteran Southern politician who was radically different in demeanor from Kennedy. The consensus was that Kennedy picked Johnson to help win the Southern vote, although once in office together, the Kennedy-Johnson working relationship was anything but harmonious, especially considering the open animosity between John’s brother Robert, who served as Attorney General in the Kennedy administration, and LBJ.
A Trump-Stefanik ticket would be more a case of peas in a pod than opposites attracting. Since entering the national scene in 2014, Stefanik has been more moderate than some would like. As an example, Heritage Action for America presently ranks her at 72 percent for the current session of Congress and 54 percent lifetime. For comparison, Marjorie Taylor Greene is ranked at 84 percent for the current session and 90 percent lifetime. For a traditional conservative Republican presidential candidate, this would be an odd choice. As has doubtless been noticed by all reading this article, Trump is not a traditional conservative Republican candidate.
Adding to the mix is that Stefanik is an ardent Trump supporter, but she has not always marched in lockstep with him. As an example, during Trump’s time in office, Stefanik opposed Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord agreement. This duly noted, as Ward Clark mentioned here on January 10, Trump has made no secret of valuing loyalty above strict adherence to his preferred platform, and Stefanik has been unwavering in her support for him.
Stefanik also enjoys the status of apparently zero entanglement in matters outside of politics that would sully her career ambitions. It is not difficult to envision that with the amount of baleful scrutiny her pro-Trump stance has drawn from the media, were there any scandalous flashpoints available, by now, they would have been exposed and exploited. Stefanik is well-versed in the art of fighting back and thus would prove an intractable media foil, another factor that would endear her to existing supporters. At the same time, her status as a suburban wife and mom could assist with that demographic.
There is much to recommend Elise Stefanik. While, to date, Donald Trump has not tipped his hand as to his leanings in this area, one strongly suspects Stefanik is very high on a very short list.