OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
Then-President Donald Trump’s closest political adviser discussed who he should consider as his running mate this time around and turned some heads in a column published last week.
Kellyanne Conway, who was key to guiding Trump to his 2016 victory but left his campaign months before the 2020 election, wrote in a guest post for The New York Times that in determining the answer to Trump’s “most important” question regarding a running mate for 2024, the question of “Who?” is less significant than “Why?”
“In other words, the individual should complement, not complicate, his America First record and vision, and recognize the difference between loyalty-as-tenacity (yes) and loyalty-as-obsequiousness (no),” Conway wrote.
In explaining her column during a subsequent appearance on Fox News, she suggested that Sens. Tom Cotton (R-AR) or Marco Rubio (R-FL), as well as former Secretary of State and Director of the CIA Mike Pompeo, might be good choices to assist Trump in navigating obstacles at home and abroad. Conway also noted that she had suggested Mike Pence as his running mate in 2016.
The “most popular suggestion,” according to Conway, was for Trump to “pick a woman” to be his running mate, similar to what former Vice President Joe Biden did with Kamala Harris. Conway stated that Trump could choose “qualified, compelling” women, even though Biden and the nation “suffer daily the consequences of embracing identity politics.”
There were also “experienced female elected officials/grandmothers,” including Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem.
Although Conway is not associated with Trump’s 2024 campaign, she stated that if she were offering advice to Trump, she would recommend “identity politics a la the Democrats” instead of a “person of color… as an equal helping to lead an America First movement that includes more union workers, independents, first-time voters, veterans, Hispanics, Asian Americans, and African Americans.”
She also noted that she did not see how Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who dropped out of the race last month and endorsed Trump, would fulfill the objective of bringing in additional voters that Trump himself may not attract.
Regarding a potential female running mate, one name that cropped up early and often was former Arizona GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, though she has since launched a bid for Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s (I-Ariz.) seat.
Earlier this month, she was endorsed by another conservative stalwart, Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), the Arizona Sun-Times reported.
“I’m honored to endorse my friend Kari Lake to be Arizona’s next U.S. Senator. Kari is a strong, principled conservative, who knows and loves the people of Arizona and will make them proud as their elected representative,” he said in a statement.
“Kari is fearless, she doesn’t back down, and she will fight tirelessly to secure our border and make our country safe and prosperous. The stakes could not be higher and it is now more important than ever that we retake the Republican majority and get our country back on the right track for all working American families and citizens,” he added.
Lake responded favorably to the endorsement.
“I am thrilled to have the endorsement of a conservative force in the Senate, my friend Bill Hagerty,” she said. “He has been a strong voice for securing our border and advocating for America First policies. I look forward to working with him to put America back on track.”
Lake’s campaign announced on Monday that she had raised millions in the first quarter following her filing.
According to the campaign, the 2022 Arizona GOP gubernatorial candidate has pulled in $2.1 million after launching her campaign on Oct. 10. Lake is running for former Democrat-turned-Independent Sinema’s seat, the latter of whom has yet to announce whether she’ll run for reelection. The top Democratic contender is Rep. Reuben Gallego.