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Elise Stefanik for veep?

Questions remain whether millennial woman on ticket would affect voters’ picks

House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., arrives to a news conference after a meeting of the House Republican Conference in the Capitol Visitor Center on May 7.
House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., arrives to a news conference after a meeting of the House Republican Conference in the Capitol Visitor Center on May 7. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Not every governor or senator is qualified to be on a national ticket. 

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin turned out to be a disaster after Arizona Sen. John McCain selected her for the No. 2 slot on the 2008 GOP ticket, and Alabama Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville, quite understandably, is on nobody’s list for higher office.

Relatively few members of the House of Representatives end up on vice presidential running mate lists. This year, however, New York Rep. Elise Stefanik has been mentioned repeatedly by GOP insiders as a potential running mate for former President Donald Trump.

Stefanik, who will turn 40 in July, graduated from Harvard and subsequently worked in the administration of President George W. Bush. 

The congresswoman has served in the House for almost a decade, winning election initially in 2014. A member of the House leadership, Stefanik chairs the House Republican Conference — a position she won in 2021 after House Republicans ousted Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, a Trump critic, from the post.

Initially elected as an “establishment conservative,” Stefanik has consistently moved toward the right — and more importantly — toward Trump over the past few years.

She has become a vocal and loyal Trump supporter, fawning over his gibberish and attacking those who find his agenda, language and untruths offensive.

While the congresswoman checks a number of boxes for Trump — her gender, age and loyalty top the list — Stefanik still seems an unlikely selection.

Pluses and minuses

Stefanik’s pluses are obvious. Trump has had serious problems with women voters, and adding the upstate New York congresswoman to the ticket could, at least in theory, help him appeal to women.

Trump also has been having problems with younger voters, and again Stefanik could, in theory, be an asset there. 

But are younger voters really going to vote for the vice presidential nominees or see Trump differently merely because he picks a millennial as his running mate?

Moreover, Stefanik’s loyalty to Trump and her increasingly conservative views — including on abortion rights — limit her with abortion rights women and with critics of Trump.

More generally, Stefanik is easily associated with the clown caucus of the House GOP, which includes the likes of Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, and Arizona Rep. Paul Gosar. 

Like many of Trump’s followers, Stefanik voted to reject President Joe Biden’s electoral votes after the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol, raised questions about the voting machines used in that election and supported efforts to overturn Biden’s victories in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Georgia.

Geographically, Stefanik would not help Trump in his quest to get 270 electoral votes. 

She lives in New York, a state that has not gone Republican in a presidential race since 1984. There is no chance that adding the congresswoman to the GOP ticket would change Trump’s prospects in the Empire State this year.

The smell test

But Stefanik’s greatest liability probably is that she doesn’t pass the presidential “smell test.”

Trump will turn 78 next month, and there is a chance that his vice president will have to succeed him at some point during the next four years.

Would Stefanik be able to step into the presidency should something happen to Trump? Can you imagine the New York congresswoman dealing with Russian leader Vladimir Putin or Chinese leader Xi Jinping? Would voters see her as a potential commander in chief? That would be a stretch, especially considering the paucity of foreign policy experience in her resume.

It’s hard to conclude that Stefanik is prepared to be president after serving only a handful of years in the House. Her greatest claim to fame is her support of Trump.

Of course, Stefanik is one of a few women mentioned frequently as a possible running mate for Trump now that South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has appeared to rule herself out following her disclosure that she shot her dog. (Former Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who was a Democrat before becoming an independent, is also mentioned.)

Stefanik is regarded as the ultimate Republican loyalist who will do anything she thinks will help her party and help her move up the political ladder. Of course, that merely puts her in a large crowd of Trump vice presidential wannabes, each of whom has assets and liabilities.

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