Meet Donald Trump's Potential Vice Presidents In 100 Words Trump has run a highly unpredictable GOP campaign, and his vice presidential choice is likely to be the same. Here are some of his top prospects.
NPR logo Meet Donald Trump's Potential Vice Presidents In 100 Words

Meet Donald Trump's Potential Vice Presidents In 100 Words

Donald Trump is expected to announce his running mate any day now, and speculation is swirling about whom he might pick.

A vice presidential choice is a critical one for the Republican presumptive nominee. Not only has he never held elective office, but he still hasn't united his party around his controversial candidacy. More social media missteps this week and comments praising former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein unsettled GOP leaders even more.

Trump has said he is likely to pick someone with political experience who can help him navigate Washington if he's elected. That moves former Rep. Newt Gingrich, who campaigned with Trump Wednesday night in Ohio, higher up on the list. At a rally in Ohio Wednesday night, Trump campaigned with Gingrich and teased the crowd that the former House speaker would be involved in his administration "in one form or another."

Someone like Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, a former congressman, gives him both state and federal experience. Plus Pence, who met with Trump last weekend, is popular among Christian conservatives.

He could also go with loyalists like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer or Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions.

Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, a onetime top prospect, took his name out of consideration after campaigning with Trump in North Carolina on Tuesday. He told the Washington Post that "I'm far more suited for other types of things."

Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, a dark-horse candidate who met with Trump on July 4, also tamped down speculation on Wednesday, saying she preferred to focus on her first term in the Senate.

Ultimately, though, Trump has run a highly unpredictable campaign and his vice presidential choice could be the same. He may not pick from the 11 possible candidates we've profiled below and has even said he may look to a general or someone with career military experience.

Based on our reporting and other news reports, here are some of the top potential Trump running mates.

Jan Brewer, Former Arizona Governor

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer speaks to the media after arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court to decide Arizona's controversial immigration legislation in 2012. Mark Wilson/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer speaks to the media after arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court to decide Arizona's controversial immigration legislation in 2012.

Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Age: 71 (born Sept. 26, 1944, in Hollywood, Calif.)

Current residence: Phoenix

Education: Attended Glendale Community College

Family: Married to Dr. John Leon Brewer; 3 children (1 deceased)

Religion: Lutheran

Fast facts:

  • Assumed office after Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano resigned to become secretary of homeland security. She was secretary of state, and Arizona has no lieutenant governor
  • Despite speculation that she would seek a third term, bypassing the Arizona term limit, Brewer announced she would not seek re-election and not challenge the current law
  • During a 2010 gubernatorial debate, she had a painful 10-second pause before she stumbled through her opening statement

Brewer has a tough reputation on one of Trump's signature issues: immigration. As governor of Arizona in 2010, she signed SB1070, a controversial law that enabled police to stop anyone they suspected of being in the country illegally. Its passage led to demonstrations in Arizona and around the country. In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down much of the law, but kept a "show me your papers" provision. Another controversial bill to restrict medication abortion was also struck down. Brewer endorsed Trump in February 2016, saying he may be "our last chance" to secure the country's Southern border.


Scott Brown, Former Massachusetts Senator

Former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown after losing a U.S. Senate bid for New Hampshire in 2014. Joanne Rathe/Boston Globe via Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Joanne Rathe/Boston Globe via Getty Images

Former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown after losing a U.S. Senate bid for New Hampshire in 2014.

Joanne Rathe/Boston Globe via Getty Images

Age: 56 (born Sept. 12, 1959, in Kittery, Maine)

Current residence: Rye, N.H.

Education: 1981, Tufts University; 1985, Boston College Law School, J.D.

Family: Married to Gail Huff; 2 daughters

Religion: Reformed Christian

Fast facts:

  • Joined the Army National Guard at age 19 and has served in Kazakhstan and Paraguay
  • Received an Army Commendation Medal for service after the Sept. 11 attacks
  • At age 22 won Cosmopolitan magazine's "America's Sexiest Man contest" in 1982 and appeared nude in the issue

Brown shocked the political world in January 2010 when he won the Massachusetts seat of the late Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy. His moderate profile wasn't enough to save him in 2012, when he was unseated by Democrat Elizabeth Warren. He moved to neighboring New Hampshire and unsuccessfully ran for Senate in 2014. Brown was an early Trump endorser, and the presumptive nominee suggested at a New Hampshire rally that he might pick Brown as his running mate. Trump has said of Brown, "he's central casting," a likely reference to Brown's looks (and possibly his 1982 nude Cosmopolitan photo shoot).


Chris Christie, New Jersey Governor

Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey and former 2016 Republican presidential candidate, speaks during a town hall event with Donald Trump at the Tampa Convention Center. Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey and former 2016 Republican presidential candidate, speaks during a town hall event with Donald Trump at the Tampa Convention Center.

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Age: 53 (born Sept. 6, 1962, in Newark, N.J.)

Current residence: Mendham, N.J.

Education: 1984, University of Delaware, B.A., political science; 1987, Seton Hall University, J.D.

Family: Married to Mary Pat Christie; 4 children

Religion: Roman Catholic

Fast facts:

  • President of his class all four years of high school, as well as president of his dorm in college and president of the student body
  • His wife, Mary Pat, left her $500,000-a-year job as a managing director at a hedge fund and investment management company in April, in anticipation of her husband's presidential campaign
  • Has reportedly been to more than 130 Bruce Springsteen concerts

After New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie declined to run in 2012, his 2016 presidential bid didn't end the way he had hoped. Despite tearing down rival Marco Rubio in the final New Hampshire debate, he ended his campaign after finishing a disappointing sixth place. Less than a month later, he surprisingly endorsed Donald Trump, becoming one of the first big, establishment names to endorse him. He would add considerable political heft to a Trump ticket and could certainly fulfill the attack dog role of a running mate, but he is still unpopular in his home state after the so-called Bridgegate scandal.


Tom Cotton, Arkansas Senator

Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton and his wife, Anna Peckham, greet supporters during an election night gathering on Nov. 4, 2014. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton and his wife, Anna Peckham, greet supporters during an election night gathering on Nov. 4, 2014.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Age: 39 (born May 13, 1977, in Dardanelle, Ark.)

Current residence: Dardanelle, Ark.

Education: 1999, Harvard University, B.A.; 2002, Harvard Law School, J.D.

Family: Married to Anna Cotton; 1 child

Religion: Methodist

Fast facts:

  • Served nearly five years on active duty in the Army as an infantry officer; turned down a JAG appointment because he wanted to be in combat

  • Between two combat tours, he served with The Old Guard at Arlington National Cemetery

  • Shortly after being sworn in as a senator in 2015, he authored a letter to Iranian leaders amid negotiations for a nuclear deal that got 47 co-signers. It was a break from typical protocol that was condemned by the White House and Democrats

Probably the youngest possible pick for Trump, the 39-year-old Arkansas senator has been seen as a rising star within the GOP since he was elected to the House in 2012. Two years later, he was elected to the Senate, defeating Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor. Cotton's background is primarily in the military; he served two combat tours in Afghanistan, where he was awarded the Bronze Star. In the Senate he has called for a tougher approach to taking on ISIS and terrorism. Prior to running for office, he was also an attorney and a management consultant.


Joni Ernst, Iowa Senator

Sen. Joni Ernst speaks to members of the news media after casting her ballot on Election Day in 2014. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Sen. Joni Ernst speaks to members of the news media after casting her ballot on Election Day in 2014.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Age: 46 (born July 1, 1970, in Red Oak, Iowa)

Current home: Red Oak, Iowa

Education: 1992, Iowa State University, B.S., psychology; 1995, Columbus State University, master's in public administration

Family: Married to Gail Ernst; 1 child, 2 stepchildren

Religion: Lutheran

Fast facts:

  • Highlighted her family's farming roots in a Senate ad where she mentioned her experience castrating hogs. "I'll know how to cut pork. ... Washington's full of big spenders: let's make them squeal," she said.
  • Joined the National Guard after college and was later deployed to Kuwait during Operation Iraqi Freedom

  • Told the crowd at a 2012 NRA convention, "I have a beautiful little Smith & Wesson, 9 millimeter, and it goes with me virtually everywhere"

Joni Ernst was elected as Iowa's first female senator in 2014 and also became the first female veteran to serve in the U.S. Senate. Once a long shot in the GOP primary, she was buoyed by an endorsement from Sarah Palin and enjoyed strong Tea Party support. Ernst could help boost Trump's support among women and those concerned about his lack of foreign policy experience. After meeting with Trump July 4, though, she threw cold water on the idea of being vice president, saying she was focused on Iowa and was "just getting started" in the Senate.


Mary Fallin, Oklahoma Governor

Mary Fallin, seen in 2014, is the governor of Oklahoma. Win McNamee/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Mary Fallin, seen in 2014, is the governor of Oklahoma.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Age: 61 (born Dec. 9, 1954, in Warrensburg, Mo.)

Current residence: Oklahoma City

Education: 1973-75, attended Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, Okla.; 1977, Oklahoma State University, B.S.

Family: Married to Wade Christensen (1 ex-husband); 6 children

Religion: Christian

Fast facts:

  • She had a highly publicized divorce in 1998, where she was accused by her husband of having an affair with her bodyguard. Investigators found these allegations unfounded, saying they were confident the "relationship was strictly platonic"

  • After a botched execution in her state in 2014, she ordered a review of the state's execution policies

  • Her daughter Christina was called "The most interesting governor's daughter in the country" by the Washington Post in 2014. Christina was part of the electronica band Pink Pony and has been involved in a variety of controversies involving offensive social media posts

With nearly three-quarters of women viewing Donald Trump unfavorably in recent polls, many Republicans believe picking a woman as a running mate could help. Fallin, the first female governor of Oklahoma and a former congresswoman, might begin to bridge that gap. She also would match Trump's tough stance on immigration. During her campaign for governor, she said she supported Arizona's immigration laws, which allowed local police to determine the status of those suspected of being in the country illegally. However, she isn't well-known outside of Oklahoma and doesn't come from a swing state.


Newt Gingrich, Former House Speaker

Newt Gingrich, seen in February, is the former speaker of the House. Alex Wong/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Newt Gingrich, seen in February, is the former speaker of the House.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Age: 73 (born June 17, 1943, in Harrisburg, Pa.)

Current home: McLean, Va.

Education: 1965, Emory University, bachelor's degree; 1968-71, master's and doctorate in modern European history from Tulane University

Family: Married to Callista Gingrich (2 ex-wives); 2 children and 2 grandchildren

Religion: Roman Catholic (previously Baptist)

Fast facts:

  • Has published 28 books, including 14 fiction and nonfiction New York Times best-sellers
  • He and his wife, Callista, host and produce historical and public policy documentaries

  • Survived an ethics investigation and a failed coup attempt while House speaker, but resigned after the GOP's disastrous 1998 midterm elections

Trump has said he'll "probably choose somebody that's somewhat political." You probably won't find someone more political than Gingrich. The former House speaker would lend Trump considerable Washington expertise. A 20-year congressional veteran, he was the architect of the "Contract with America," a series of policy proposals that helped usher in the 1994 Republican revolution. He unsuccessfully ran for president in 2012. Like Trump, Gingrich comes with personal scandals, including past infidelities, and three marriages. Gingrich has said that being vice president would depend on how the job is defined, saying, "If it's about [going to] funerals, I'm not interested."


Mike Pence, Indiana Governor

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence speaks during a news conference in March 2015. Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence speaks during a news conference in March 2015.

Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images

Age: 57 (born June 7, 1959, in Columbus, Ind.)

Current residence: Columbus, Ind.

Education: 1981, Hanover College, B.A.; 1986, Indiana University, J.D.

Family: Married to Karen Pence, 3 children

Religion: Christian

Fast facts:

  • After losing campaigns for Congress in 1988 and 1990, he wrote "Confessions of a Negative Campaigner," where he apologized for running negative ads against his opponent, Rep. Phillip Sharp
  • Before being elected to Congress in 2000, was president of a conservative think tank, the Indiana Policy Review Foundation. He also hosted a conservative syndicated radio show and a Sunday political TV show in Indianapolis
  • After Republicans lost the House in 2006, he mounted a failed challenge to John Boehner as the House GOP leader; Boehner later supported him to become Republican Conference chairman in 2008

Pence first gave Texas Sen. Ted Cruz a lukewarm endorsement ahead of the May 3 Indiana primary but endorsed Trump just days later after his win that effectively sealed the GOP nomination. Pence would offer Trump a running mate beloved by evangelicals. He has called himself "a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order." In 2015 he signed into law a controversial religious freedom bill, which spurred wide backlash. Pence later signed a revision he said would prevent LGBT discrimination. Pence is in a competitive re-election race and could not run for both vice president and governor simultaneously.


Rick Scott, Florida Governor

Rick Scott is the governor of Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Rick Scott is the governor of Florida.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Age: 63 (born Dec. 1, 1952, in Bloomington, Ill.)

Current residence: Naples, Fla.

Education: 1975, University of Missouri, Kansas City, business administration; 1978, Southern Methodist University, J.D.

Family: Married to Ann Scott; 2 children, 4 grandchildren

Religion: Christian

Fast facts:

  • His father was a truck driver and his mother worked as a J.C. Penney clerk
  • Enlisted in the Navy after one year of community college, where he served on the USS Glover as a radar man. After his military service, he went to the University of Missouri, Kansas City and financed his schooling by buying two doughnut shops and hiring his mother to manage them

  • Spent over $70 million of his own money to become governor in 2010

Scott has said that he would decline to be Trump's vice president if asked, saying: "I like my job. I worked hard to get this job. I'm going to stay in this job." But he still is a natural choice for Trump, who could use the governor's help in Florida, a critical swing state. The governor endorsed Trump the day after he won the Florida primary. Scott made millions as a health care executive before being elected in 2010. He has had his own scandals, including an FBI investigation of his hospital company, which led to $1.7 billion in fines.


Jeff Sessions, Alabama Senator

Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions was the first senator to endorse Donald Trump for president. Taylor Hill/WireImage hide caption

toggle caption
Taylor Hill/WireImage

Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions was the first senator to endorse Donald Trump for president.

Taylor Hill/WireImage

Age: 69 (born Dec. 24, 1946, in Selma, Ala.)

Current home: Mobile, Ala.

Education: 1969, Huntingdon College, B.A.; 1973: University of Alabama, J.D.

Family: Married to Mary Blackshear Sessions; 3 children, 10 grandchildren

Religion: Methodist

Fast facts:

  • In 1964, he became an Eagle Scout; he has received the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award

  • In 1986, his bid to become a federal district judge was rejected by the Judiciary Committee. Democrats zeroed in on remarks he made referring to the NAACP and other organizations as "communist inspired" and "un-American organizations with anti-traditional American values." Now-Vice President Biden was one of those on the Judiciary Committee who opposed his nomination

  • The conservative National Review once called him "amnesty's worst enemy"

In February, Sessions became the first U.S. senator to endorse Trump, a particular blow to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who had frequently praised the Alabama senator on the campaign trail. A top Sessions aide, Stephen Miller, also left his office to work for Trump as a senior policy adviser. Sessions was an outspoken opponent of the Senate's 2013 comprehensive immigration reform. He is also a former U.S. attorney and member of the Army Reserve.


John Thune, South Dakota Senator

Sen. John Thune talks with reporters following the Republicans' weekly policy luncheon at the U.S. Capitol. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Sen. John Thune talks with reporters following the Republicans' weekly policy luncheon at the U.S. Capitol.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Age: 55 (born Jan. 7, 1961, in Pierre, S.D.)

Current residence: Sioux Falls, S.D.

Education: 1983, Biola University, B.A.; 1984, University of South Dakota, M.B.A.

Family: Married to Kimberly Thune; 2 children

Religion: Evangelical Christian

Fast facts:

  • Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, the third-ranking GOP leadership post
  • In 2012, Thune considered a presidential bid and ultimately chose not to run. To some, this suggested that he was focused on rising up through the Senate leadership ranks and doesn't have aspirations to the vice presidency or the White House
  • Is the current Senate chairman of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee

By picking Thune, Trump would help appease the establishment GOP base and get a running mate with considerable political expertise. Prior to serving as South Dakota's representative and senator, Thune worked in Washington, D.C., in the Small Business Administration under an appointment from Ronald Reagan. However, South Dakota is far from a swing state and doesn't help Trump with electoral math. Thune was rumored to be a vice presidential possibility in 2008 and 2012. His spokesman, however, has said that being Trump's running mate "is not something Sen. Thune is even considering."