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Vice Presidential Candidates Exhibit Their Trumpiness at CPAC

Five Republicans who have visions of a bucket of some warm liquid showed up at the CPAC conference in Maryland on Friday. They are: Kari Lake, Gov. Kristi Noem (R-SD), Vivek Ramaswamy, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY), and Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH). They all seemed to understand that they were addressing an audience of one. They fell all over each other praising Dear Leader, but nevertheless threw enough red meat at the attendees that it's fortunate dozens of people did not die of a heart attack on the spot.

How's this from Stefanik, a once-moderate Republican from up near Canada somewhere: "The closer President Trump gets to victory, the dirtier the Democrats, their stenographers in the media and the corrupt prosecutors will get. They will stop at nothing, and I mean nothing, in their attempt to steal this next election." Probably music to Trump's ears, even though she knows that she is lying through her teeth.

Vance took a different tack: "Donald Trump is maybe the first politician in my lifetime who will be much poorer for having served his country. That is the best evidence that we should re-elect him in 2024—he has sacrificed for his country." Unlike Stefanik's remark, which is complete fiction, this one might be true. However, Trump will not be poorer because he made an intentional sacrifice for his country, but because he defamed E. Jean Carroll and defrauded banks.

Noem said: "There are two kinds of people in this country right now. There are people who love America, and there are those who hate America," another popular theme with Trump. Lake didn't give a speech, but was on a panel and said America had to stop sending money overseas, ignoring the fact that the money "sent" to Ukraine actually goes to U.S. defense contractors who hire Americans to build the weapons and ammo sent to Ukraine. Ramaswamy also said stuff, but with inflation having raised the price of pixels to 3¢ per billion pixels, we don't think he is worth quoting.

In addition to these wannabes, Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL), Tulsi Gabbard, and Ben Carson also spoke to the crowd, but we don't think any of these three are even vaguely plausible.

As usual, CPAC had a straw poll, but about the #2 slot instead of the #1 slot since the latter was a forgone conclusion. Here are the results:

     1. Kristi Noem and Vivek Ramaswamy (15% each)
     3. Tulsi Gabbard (9%)
     4. Elise Stefanik and Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) (8% each)
     6. Rep. Byron Donalds (7%)
     7. Ben Carson, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), and Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R-AR) (5%) each

Nikki Haley, Vance, Tucker Carlson, and Robert Kennedy Jr. all got less than 5%. In short, the base doesn't really have a favorite. And even if it did, Trump wouldn't pay any attention at all to it. What he cares about is who flatters him the most.

The selection process is radically different than in 2016, when nobody was really auditioning aggressively like this time and Trump picked someone (Mike Pence) to help him with a specific demographic (evangelicals) he was afraid of losing. He also made the choice in 2016 just a few days before the national convention. With the nomination sewed up so early this time, he could make his choice much earlier. On the one hand, an early choice will allow the running mate to get out on the trail and start campaigning early. This is especially important if his choice is not widely known nationally, and that holds for virtually all of the plausible candidates. On the other hand, once Trump makes an announcement, all the suspense will be gone, and Trump loves suspense. (V)

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