Let’s Check Back in on Those Trump Veepstakes

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), left, and Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.), right, are among the Trump VP contenders using television airtime to seemingly try to appeal to the former president.Phelan M. Ebenhack/Andrew Harnik/AP

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The Trump veepstakes has been in full force now for a few months, and as we have covered, a common tactic for several contenders has been going on television to question the results of the 2020 election.

But as we get closer to the Republican National Convention—set to begin in less than a month, on July 15—new strategies are coming into focus. Today, while one contender took to TV to insist he would be ready for the job, another seemed to fail two key Trump loyalty tests.

Let’s take a closer look:

Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.): “I’m actually pretty intelligent.”

On NBC’s Meet the Press, Donalds—who has come under fire recently for seeming to praise Black family life under Jim Crow, which he subsequently denied—said he would be ready to step into the role of VP if Trump asked, or even the role of president if needed. And he wanted to make sure TV watchers know: He’s smart.

“It’s obviously the toughest job, the biggest job not just in our politics but really, frankly, in the world,” Donalds said. “Look, I think that I would have an ability to step in. I’m actually pretty intelligent. I can sift through issues really, really well. It’s about judgment. It’s about logic streams. It’s about how you make decisions, at the end of the day. And then you cannot discount the fact that you would have a lot of people who are very qualified to be around to help you do that job and do what’s in the best interest of the American people.”

WATCH: As Trump floats his name as a potential VP, @RepDonaldsPress (R-Fla.) says he would be ready to step into the job — and as commander-in-chief if necessary.”I would have an ability to step in. I’m actually pretty intelligent. … Do I believe in myself? 100%” pic.twitter.com/IPGtHjqEFR— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) June 16, 2024

“Do I believe in myself?” he continued. “One hundred percent, I do. And so, you know, we’ll see what President Trump decides. I’m going to support whatever he does.”

In the Meet the Press interview, Donalds also railed against Trump’s guilty conviction in his hush-money trial (“What happened in lower Manhattan was a violation of his constitutional rights,” he said) and alleged, without evidence, that the conviction was politically motivated election interference.

At an event at a Black church in Detroit on Saturday, Trump said Donalds “is very high on the list” of potential running mates.

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) appears to fail two key tests.

After previously refusing to answer—no less than six times—whether or not he would accept the results of November’s election no matter the outcome, Scott continued to sow confusion on ABC’s This Week this morning.

In responding to co-host Jonathan Karl’s question about whether he stands by his own decision as a senator to certify the 2020 election results, Scott said: “Certainly. I will stand by that decision and the next decision to certify the fact that Donald Trump will be the next president of the United States. November 5th, the day of reckoning, is coming.”

Sen. Tim Scott, who is reportedly on the short list to be former Pres. Trump’s 2024 running mate, tells @JonKarl he stands by his vote to certify Pres. Biden’s 2020 election victory. https://t.co/UTOZk1zAXF pic.twitter.com/AEuHpQxblN— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) June 16, 2024

Of course, we live in a democracy (for now, at least), so neither Scott, nor anyone else, can definitively state who will be the next president until all eligible Americans cast their votes and have them counted in November. Still, it sounds like even as Scott may be failing the Trump loyalty test to deny the 2020 election results outright, he’s passing what may be another one, by implying that the only election result he would certify this year is one reflecting a Trump victory. (We’ve reached out to Scott’s spokesperson to ask for clarification.)

Another possible red flag for Trump: Scott appears to disagree with Trump’s recent pledge to pardon all of the more than 800 Jan. 6 rioters who have been sentenced, whom Trump has called “hostages” and “political prisoners.” Scott seemed to suggest he may support pardoning nonviolent insurrectionists. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), another potential Trump running mate, has also taken that position. Today, Scott added that “anyone who attacks an officer whether on the Capitol grounds or any place else in the country should serve time.”

Perhaps to distance himself from their differences, Scott quickly pivoted back to a Trump-approved talking point: “Let me say simply, Jon, the greatest threat to democracy today is Joe Biden.”