Advisers to former President Trump are sure of at least two things: He'll be the Republican presidential nominee in 2024, and his running mate won't be Mike Pence. Their preparation for choosing Pence's replacement includes monitoring how potential candidates for either job are talking about Trump and the 2020 election, Politico reports. Criticism, or even acknowledging a difference of opinion, can be disqualifying; an adviser put the chances of Pence, who has said he and Trump won't ever agree on the events of Jan. 6, being on the ticket next time at "zero." When Pence refused to block congressional certification of President Biden's electoral victory, he didn't just anger Trump, he angered the president's most hard-core supporters.
Still, Pence finished second to Trump in a poll conducted last week, per the Hill. Among registered Republican voters, 56% said they'd consider voting for Trump in a presidential primary, and 28% listed Pence. Republicans trying to please Trump are missing the point, an adviser said: "People are asking the wrong question—how do I keep Trump saying my name with a smile on his face? But they need to know how they should connect with his base." Potential candidates being watched include Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Sens. Tim Scott, Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton, and Josh Hawley. All of them have to think carefully before running against Trump, a former Trump adviser said: "If you’re seen running in the primary, that hurts you in '28, in your own reelection—so there’s a lot of calculation going into, would you want to primary Trump or not." (Read more Donald Trump stories.)