The Race for Running Mate

I’ve covered Donald Trump’s three presidential campaigns and his four years in the White House.

Discipline, experience and risk aversion are not traits typically associated with Donald Trump’s political brand. But his search for those values in a running mate has helped him narrow the field, for now, to a top tier of contenders, people in his orbit tell me.

Trump has an unusual amount of freedom with this choice. He believes voters will cast their ballots based on the top of the ticket, so he needn’t pick someone from a battleground state to help win it. People already know him, so he doesn’t need someone to woo a particular constituency, as Mike Pence did with evangelicals in 2016. But he worries that a running mate can create unwanted distractions. As a result, Trump has tightened his V.P. list to dependable and loyal campaigners.

Still, the search hasn’t escaped his freewheeling style. Advisers say he keeps injecting new contenders into the mix and pressuring his campaign for an announcement during the Republican Party’s convention next month. He wants a good show, preceded by lots of buzz. To generate it, his team has requested personal information and other vetting documents from a far broader list of Republicans than the few candidates he has shown the most interest in.

Doug Burgum. The former president collects wealthy white businessmen as if they were porcelain dolls — and the North Dakota governor has amassed a fortune from building billion-dollar companies. Burgum is well versed in energy policy, which Trump has said is a Day 1 priority, and he could help persuade pro-business stalwarts frustrated by both Trump and President Biden. He’s already having an effect: Tom Siebel, a billionaire tech investor who loves Burgum, told me he wrote his first check to Trump — for $500,000 — because the North Dakotan was in the mix for the Republican ticket.

But Burgum is relatively untested on a national stage. He’ll face questions about the abortion ban he signed into law last year that does not allow for rape and incest exceptions after six weeks of pregnancy.

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