Kristi Noem and Vivek Ramaswamy are CPAC’s choices for Trump’s running mate


Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy tied as the leading candidate to be former President Donald J. Trump’s running mate in a straw poll held Saturday at a prominent gathering of conservative activists.

The straw poll, at the Conservative Political Action Conference, was the first time in years that a question about who Republicans should pick for vice president overshadowed a question about the presidential candidate in the poll of attendees.

That was in part because Trump won the presidential election, as expected, in a landslide over Nikki Haley, beating her 94 percent to 5 percent. The last time Trump wasn’t the top choice for the White House among CPAC attendees was in 2016, when Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas finished first.

The informal poll, which provides a measure of far-right enthusiasm and is not intended to be predictive, was announced at the end of the four-day CPAC meeting outside Washington. The attention on the vice presidential question was notable because Trump is still fending off a challenge for the Republican presidential nomination from Haley, the former governor of South Carolina. He won the party’s first nominating contests and easily defeated Ms. Haley on Saturday in her home state.

Several Republicans considered contenders to be Trump’s running mate gave speeches at the event. They included Rep. Byron Donalds of Florida on Thursday; Ms. Noem, Senator JD Vance of Ohio and Representative Elise Stefanik of New York on Friday; and Arizona Senate candidate Kari Lake on Saturday. Mr. Ramaswamy spoke on both Friday and Saturday.

Ms. Noem and Mr. Ramaswamy each earned 15 percent of the vote in the straw poll. Former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, who ran for president as a Democrat in 2020 but has since left the party to become an independent, came in third with 9 percent, followed by Ms. Stefanik and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina with 8 percent each.

Vance, whom CPAC attendees choose as their favorite senator, received 2 percent in the vice presidential question, behind Tucker Carlson, a former Fox News host, and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the political descendant of a Democratic family who is Now running for president as an independent.

“I feel like I’m the only one not running for vice president,” said Tom Fitton, president of the conservative group Judicial Watch, who spoke at the conference. “Although…who knows what will happen.”

Charles Romaine, 75, a retiree in Silver Springs, Maryland, said he had arrived at his first CPAC this week supporting Stefanik as Trump’s No. 2, but changed his mind toward Noem after hearing her speak on Friday. .

He said Ms. Noem’s speech was strong and that he liked her opposition to health restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic and her support for sending National Guard troops to the southwest border.

“She has had real authority as governor and she has used it,” Romaine said. “That’s an important experience to be vice president and, perhaps, one day, president.”

James Ong, 20, a college student in Washington, D.C., said he had supported Ramaswamy, the 38-year-old businessman, as Trump’s running mate because he could appeal to younger voters than older presidential candidates in both parties. he might have difficulty conquering.

“America First is about the future of America, not just Trump, and Vivek can continue that legacy,” Ong said.

Trump’s third presidential campaign will be his first without former Vice President Mike Pence on his ticket. The two men parted ways politically after Pence refused to help Trump overturn the 2020 election.

Behind the scenes, Trump has informally discussed potential running mates with his advisers, and his team has weighed the risks and rewards of potential contenders.

Publicly, the former president has offered conflicting thoughts about his role. Last month he said he knew who he would choose as his running mate, but later said he hadn’t decided.

Meanwhile, his campaign has leaned toward anticipation.

His team has emailed and texted supporters more than two dozen fundraising requests this month designed to look like polls about who Trump should elect. The questionnaire mainly asks about various characteristics of a potential vice president, but does not offer any specific name.

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