On President Trump’s Vice Presidential Choice

Several weeks ago, I wrote an article discussing why Tucker Carlson stands out as the clear favorite among all viable options to serve as Vice President on President Trump’s ticket. Now I offer some additional commentary, speaking not as a campaign insider, but as an impartial observer of the way things have unfolded so far this season, with an objective analysis that weighs the extraordinary factors that have made the 2024 race as equally high stakes as it is unprecedented.

For starters, the vice presidential office has undergone a seismic revolution in the Trump era. Once conventional wisdom for choosing a running mate – such as whether that person comes from a must-win swing state or appeals to a certain demographic – now goes out the window, where considerations like loyalty and insurance (to say nothing of lining up a potential successor) reign supreme over those more traditional factors. Indeed, a large part of the reason why 2024 is so unprecedented in the first place goes to the shortcomings of Vice President Pence, who proved himself at the moment of national crisis woefully disloyal to President Trump, and even worse, to his constitutional oath and constituents. Pence’s great failure arguably catalyzed the chain of events that led to the weaponized justice system and political prosecution of Donald Trump by the DOJ and intelligence agencies. Accordingly, the significance of the vice president in the Trump era should be palpable to most Republican voters, who are now dealing with the real time consequences of a system headlong into tyranny in no small part due to Pence’s great betrayal.

Loyalty – and the lack thereof – is thus one of two essential factors that must be considered for a vice president to Donald Trump. And that degree of loyalty runs not only with the man (or woman) given the nod, but also their competence in selecting a loyal staff. Their staff must be composed not just of Washington insiders, but of stalwart MAGA devotees, from all over the country if need be – with the track record and political and intellectual bona fides to boot. The second important factor is protection: whether the vice president will offer adequate insurance in the event of a deep state attack on the president. From the Mueller investigation to the two failed impeachments to the indictments and groundless charges that have consumed so much of President Trump’s time since his illegitimate ouster, it should be expected that, even assuming the most probable scenario at this point that Trump wins in 2024, the same forces hellbent on bringing him down in term one will be there for a second go-around. Thus, the ideal running mate would be someone who offers President Trump some degree of political protection – ideally, someone who would inculcate fear into the Washington establishment and their deep state and media apparatchiks. Doing so would keep them at bay and prevent them from repeating the same nefarious playbook of the first term (or God forbid, attempting something even worse) because they would be similarly fearful about the prospect of the second-in-command ascending to the highest office of the land.

This explains why someone like Ben Carson or Nikki Haley would be inadequate for the job. Although loyal to President Trump, Carson is far too mild-mannered to instill the kind of Machiavellian fear in the dark forces that are Trump’s enemies who would otherwise bring down the republic if left to their own devices. Indeed, a large part of the reason why Carson lost the 2016 primary to Trump was because voters intuited that a nice politician, however principled, is patently not what is needed to deal with the crisis our country faces today, at home and abroad. The style of Carson or even a Ronald Reagan is the type of president that is suitable for peacetime – but we are now at war, spiritually if not yet actually, and thus, as the saying goes, war demands wartime consiglieres – to say nothing of wartime presidents.

Haley fails for the opposite reason: not only is she insufficiently loyal to President Trump – ideologically, stylistically, and financially – but moreover, her interests broadly align with the interests of the same actors operating behind the scenes in Washington that are intent on subverting a second Trump term, and now working busily in preparation for that possibility. The Nikki Haley types can easily be controlled, both directly through a mutual alignment of interests, and indirectly – via special interests threatening to withhold money, being as Haley’s fortune derives, much like the Clintons, from her various government offices, and is of course not self-made in the private sector like that of Donald Trump. There is also the question of blackmail, and downstream of that, whether someone with Haley’s mental, physical, and spiritual constitution could withstand the kind of manipulation and coercion techniques that she would inevitably and immediately face if Trump were removed from office prematurely, and someone like Haley became president as a result.

Tucker Carlson thus stands out as the clear favorite – offering the essential qualities of loyalty and protection that no other candidate can match. Donald Trump’s poll numbers this cycle are so overwhelmingly favorable – he leads by double digit margins in certain states, like Nevada, that he carried in neither 2016 nor 2020 – that even with some amount of fraud factored into the equation (which would have to occur at a level well beyond 2020), he will likely still easily win re-election next year. Because Trump by and large has the support of the American people, who, regardless of their opinion of him personally, recognize his fate as being inextricably linked with America’s ultimate fate – whether we have rights to speak and assemble, and can have equal justice under the law – this helps explain his near-insurmountable momentum.

Accordingly, there is much less urgency to pick someone this year from a pivotal swing state, such as Kari Lake from Arizona or Marjorie Taylor Greene from Georgia, as the need to pander to a certain voter group is less geographically particularized now. Ditto on demographics: the conventional narrative that, say, you cannot pair two white men on the presidential ticket flew out the window in 2016 – and continues to be eroded each and every day, especially in light of Trump’s extraordinary support for a Republican among black Americans, Hispanic Americans, and other traditionally Democrat-voting minority groups.

Less important ultimately is checking off some affirmative action box, which is plainly wrong and arguably even immoral because it selects candidates based on immutable characteristics, rather than merit, which is antithetical with America’s founding vision. Moreover, it gives moral justification to the Left’s warped system of morality – one that is fundamentally communistic because it elevates the weak and the interests of a group undeserving of political leadership at the expense of the strong and deserving. Furthermore, it dresses up that decision in the spirit of “equity,” a perversion of the Founders’ understanding of equality, which valued equal opportunity, not equal outcomes. Thus, in a contest between, for example, Ben Carson, who cannot resonate with voters en masse, and Tucker Carlson, who can, the decision to choose the latter over the former should be clear as day.

Beyond that fact, Tucker harbors other qualities that would make a presidential pairing with Trump quite formidable. First, he mitigates the question of Trump’s age, because, at just 54 years old, he is relatively young for any would-be politician, and almost a generation younger than Trump himself, who will be 78 years old by the time he is inaugurated in January of 2025. Second, Tucker is a political outsider in every sense of the term: he worked in the media his entire life, and never held elected office – much like Trump before he made that fateful escalator descent in 2015.

Moreover, Carlson shares many of the same enemies as Trump: he was personally forced out of Fox News at the behest of the Murdoch family, which has been actively working to undermine President Trump since the day he left office, through ongoing censorship of him, his rallies, and his media surrogates, coupled with behind-the-scenes maneuverings to elevate his Republican primary opponents, like Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley. Tucker’s overall political philosophy – one of populism that elevates America First principles and policies at home and abroad, go toe-to-toe with Donald Trump, and arguably on certain issues (such as Israel/Palestine and the vaccines) go beyond what Trump has or is willing to say in public, offering a nice layer of protection for the head of the ticket. Tucker’s rhetoric has also been very strong on the issues that matter. He has the charisma that easily resonates with audiences, unlike so many stilted politicians, and can adorn his political speeches with humor and a natural penchant for storytelling, making him an entertaining spectacle and worthy supplement to the headline act at rallies and other campaign events.

While younger than Trump, Tucker is not so young – like Vivek Ramaswamy – where youth necessarily might raise questions or even doubts about his long-term loyalties. Tucker has been involved in American politics for decades now – he has significant name recognition, unlike a Ramaswamy, by the public writ large, and he offers a reliable enough voice such that you know pretty much what you are going to get from him. In short, unlike Ramaswamy, Carlson is a known commodity.

Furthermore, he is well traveled, both at home and abroad (he has recently been making trips to virtually every town in Wisconsin, to say nothing of his foreign soirees from Hungary to Romania to Spain to Argentina) and has been around politicians long enough to know what to say, and how to play the game. He has relationships with some of America’s most influential powerbrokers in both politics and business, and the public presence to command respect among the international community, in a way that no other candidate, save Trump, likely can pull off. He also is wealthy, if not a billionaire like President Trump. The public knows that he made his money in various media ventures and can easily divine their source, unlike Ramaswamy, whose fortune, although lucrative and admirably self-made, raises a few concerns — and may even become a liability, politically if not legally — given its heavy dependence on Big Pharma.

That is not to say that other fairly loyal contenders, such as Ramaswamy and Ben Carson, have no place in a future Trump administration. It is, however, to say that the vice presidential role is as important, and indeed I would argue much more so in light of January 6, than any cabinet position in the next Trump administration. Even if the office has few actual formal powers, the informal protection and insurance it would afford to combat against deep state chicaneries is absolutely indispensable. Tucker’s presence in the White House would also establish the kind of succession that is absolutely vital for the long-term success of the MAGA movement, which must necessarily live beyond Trump’s next four years in office. The work needed to restore the American republic back to full strength will require at least another generation. Our nation cannot afford any more setbacks of the kind we are experiencing right now with Biden’s illegitimate, and radically destructive, regime.

As a media personality, Tucker is naturally used to and adept at speaking on long tangents to the public, and can keep things interesting in his public speeches, while making rather complicated issues and observations about our maladies easily digestible for an audience of laymen. That will help tremendously on not just the campaign trail, where it will serve as asset, particularly if Trump continues to run into the same kind of foibles in 2024, which should be expected, given the indictments and pending court appearances. But once Trump gets back into office, Tucker can be an excellent marketer and spokesman for the administration’s policies, and use that time while in office to tour the country and rally support and continued enthusiasm on behalf of the President in a way that Mike Pence could never even dream of doing.

The road of getting to a Trump-Carlson ticket is, admittedly, not the easiest: both men are outsized, larger-than-life personalities in their own right. Both men have a sense of pride, especially given that they are both self-made in their respective occupations, and therefore have myriad other pre-existing duties and obligations they might otherwise want to focus on. In Tucker’s case, the idea of playing second fiddle may not sound particularly appetizing – and the sacrifices, both personally and to one’s own family, that would be required of a vice president, especially in our deeply polarized age, is no doubt less than appealing.

All told, however, it is unmistakable that no other person could make as strong a ticket as Tucker Carlson would for Donald Trump. It is for this reason that people like Matt Gaetz have been so enthusiastic by the idea, and why Tucker has placed decisively ahead of any other potential candidate in recent grassroots polls, such as the one done earlier this month at the TPUSA AmFest conference in Arizona, where Carlson also was featured as keynote speaker. Both Trump and Carlson should reflect deeply on the current state of affairs and recognize that fate – and perhaps even Providential fate – may be propelling them to team up to take down a common enemy that would otherwise put asunder what remains of the republic. As a bonus: such a collaboration would also surely go down as one of the greatest ever seen in history.

Paul Ingrassia is a two-time Claremont Fellow and served in President Trump’s National Economic Council. He writes a widely read Substack that is regularly re-truthed by President Trump. His Twitter handle is: @PaulIngrassia.


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About Paul Ingrassia

Paul Ingrassia is a Claremont Publius and John Marshall Fellow and served in President Trump’s National Economic Council. He graduated from Cornell Law School in 2022. His Twitter handle is: @PaulIngrassia.

Photo: TOPSHOT - This illustration photo shows a preview of Tucker Carlson's interview of former US President Donald Trump scheduled to air on X (formerly Twitter) on the same night of the first Republican Presidential primary debate in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on a smartphone ahead of the debate on August 23, 2023. (Photo by Chris DELMAS / AFP) (Photo by CHRIS DELMAS/AFP via Getty Images)