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Updated May 13, 2024, 11:06am EDT
politics

J.D. Vance visits Trump trial, Tim Scott may be next. Is this the new VP test?

Mark Peterson/Pool via REUTERS
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The News

Donald Trump arrived at the Manhattan courthouse on Monday with his usual entourage — and a notable addition: J.D. Vance, a close ally widely seen as being on the vice presidential shortlist.

Vance isn’t the only one eyeing the trial who’s seen as a potential running mate: Sen. Tim Scott’s team, after Sen. Rick Scott dropped by the trial last week, had discussions about going to the courthouse to show support, according to one person familiar with the situation.

While it’s unclear whether Scott will ultimately attend (he will be in New York on Tuesday night for a Trump fundraiser), the conversations, and Vance’s appearance, reflect the way the trial is emerging as yet another litmus test for would-be running mates.

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Vance’s appearance, one person close to him said, wasn’t politically motivated, but it clearly could boost his odds, especially given he was the first prominent member of the VP shortlist to make the trip. He’s also live-tweeting the proceedings with posts that sound likely to please a certain reader: One contrasts the splendor of Trump Tower with the “dingy” courtroom, for example, and accuses the DA of engaging in “psychological torture.”

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Shelby’s view

Trump likes to treat his veepstakes as a reality show production, with all the jostling for his approval and speculation about strategy that comes with it. With his public encouragement, candidates have spent weeks vying for his attention with joint appearances, Sunday show interviews, and ostentatious displays of affection.

His Manhattan trial seems like an obvious way to score points in that context, one that may be especially notable to Trump. Early on in the proceedings, Trump reportedly grumbled about the lack of allies in attendance. He’s also appeared publicly irritated by the lack of major rallies outside of the courthouse. To put it simply, this is something he cares about and pays attention to.

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For weeks, allies — including those being considered as Trump’s vice president — have taken to the airwaves to defend him amid this trial. North Dakota governor Doug Burgum, who spoke at Trump’s New Jersey rally on Sunday, appeared on CNN and backed up the former president’s reference to the Biden administration as “Gestapo.” Scott, usually known for his relatively friendly style of politics, has also been sounding Trumpier in his on-air interviews lately.

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Notable

  • The VP race is heating up, but one person definitely seems to be off the list of options: Nikki Haley, whom Trump publicly nixed over the weekend.
  • While new names are constantly popping up in the Trump VP race, no one but Trump actually knows who is up or down on the list, as Semafor recently reported, and trial balloons are often floated by advisors competing to boost their favorite choice.
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