While delivering a speech at a non-union auto parts manufacturing company in Michigan on Wednesday, the former president suggested that all seven candidates taking part in the second GOP presidential primary debate at the same time would not be on his list of potential vice presidents.
“It’s all over television, this speech,” Trump said. “You know, we’re competing with the job candidates? They’re all running for a job. No, they’re all job candidates. They want to be in the…they’ll do anything. Secretary of something, they even say VP.
“I don’t know, does anybody see any VP in the group?” he continued. “I don’t think so.”
When asked whether the remarks meant that the debate participants had been dropped from running-mate consideration, Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung confirmed to Newsweek that all seven candidates had been ruled out, saying in an email, “President Trump was crystal clear.”
The candidates that took part in the debate were Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum.
Trump refused to take part in the GOP presidential debate for a second time on Wednesday, with the frontrunner having also rejected making an appearance at the first debate last month.
Political observers have viewed at least some of the pro-Trump candidates who took part in Wednesday’s debate, such as Ramaswamy, as effectively “auditioning” to be considered as a running mate to the ex-president.
The former president had previously indicated that he would be considering other 2024 candidates as potential running mates, saying in a post to Truth Social weeks before the first debate that he would “let them debate” to see who he “MIGHT consider for Vice President.”
Trump had already ruled out Pence from consideration before even officially declaring his own candidacy, saying last year that the former VP “committed political suicide” by refusing to endorse his false claims of a “stolen” 2020 presidential election and failing to block the certification of President Joe Biden‘s victory in Congress on January 6, 2021.
Potential running mates for Trump who have not been publicly ruled out include former Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, North Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Congressman Byron Donalds of Florida.
Meanwhile, polls indicate that the prospect of any of Trump’s rivals catching him to become the nominee for the top job may be very slim. As of Wednesday, an average of polls from RealClearPolitics shows Trump leading the GOP field by over 42 points.
Update 9/27/23 10:30 p.m. ET: This article was updated with additional information.