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Veepstakes: Trump handicaps three of his top running mate contenders

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With the Republican National Convention set to kick off in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in five days, speculation is soaring regarding whom former President Trump will name as his running mate.

Sources in Trump’s political orbit tell Fox News and other news organizations that three names are considered to be at the top of the presumptive GOP presidential nominee’s short list.

They are North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and Sens. JD Vance of Ohio and Marco Rubio of Florida.

And the former president, in an interview Wednesday on ‘The Brian Kilmeade Show on Fox Radio,’ handicapped his leading contenders.

Trump was interviewed the morning after he headlined a rally at his Doral golf club outside of Miami, Florida, where Rubio addressed the crowd earlier in the program.

‘Marco was great last night, very popular,’ Trump told Fox News’ Kilmeade.

Rubio and Trump traded fire numerous times during the divisive 2016 Republican presidential primaries, but the senator became a strong ally during Trump’s tenure in the White House.

But both Trump and Rubio reside in Florida, and the 12th Amendment to the Constitution states that presidential and vice presidential candidates running on the same national ticket ‘shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves.’

Asked if the residency issue is a dealbreaker for Rubio, Trump said no.

‘But it does make it more complicated. You know, you do that, and it makes it more complicated. There are people that don’t have that complication,’ the former president added.

Trump’s use of the word complicated three times in his answer may be potentially telling.

Burgum has been a top Trump surrogate since the governor endorsed the former president in January, a month after he ended his own White House bid.

‘I think Doug is great,’ Trump said of Burgum.

But asked about North Dakota’s six-week abortion ban, which the governor signed into law last year, Trump said ‘it’s a little bit of an issue.’

Trump, who has angered some social conservative and evangelical leaders for his opposition to a proposed federal abortion ban, said that North Dakota’s law is ‘a pretty strong ban.’

But Burgum has repeatedly said in recent interviews that abortion should be left up to the states, which puts him in line with Trump.

Vance is a top Trump ally in the Senate and is considered a rising star among loyalists and supporters in the former president’s MAGA orbit.

But a report on Tuesday from the conservative-leaning website The Bulwark suggested that due to Trump’s reported distaste for facial hair, Vance’s beard could potentially be a problem.

Asked about the report, Trump said, ‘No. I’ve never heard that one.’

‘He looks good,’ Trump said of Vance. ‘He looks like a young Abraham Lincoln.’

Trump told Kilmeade that when it comes to his decision, ‘I think I’m pretty well set in my own mind.’

As for the timing, Trump reiterated, ‘I’d love to do it during the convention. You know, in the old days, they did it during the convention, and it kept the convention very exciting, actually. So we’ll see about that.’

Trump was interviewed the morning after former U.N. ambassador and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley released all of her delegates to next week’s convention and urged them to support the former president.

‘The nominating convention is a time for Republican unity,’ Haley said in a statement on Tuesday. ‘I encourage my delegates to support Donald Trump next week in Milwaukee.’

Haley launched her presidential campaign in February of last year, becoming the first major candidate to challenge Trump, who had announced his candidacy three months earlier. She was the final rival to Trump, battling the former president in a contentious two-candidate showdown from the New Hampshire primary in late January through Super Tuesday in early March before dropping out.

Haley is not planning on attending next week’s convention, aides told Fox News.

‘She was not invited, and she’s fine with that,’ Haley aide Chaney Denton said. ‘Trump deserves the convention he wants. She’s made it clear she’s voting for him and wishes him the best.’

Asked by Kilmeade if he’d like to see Haley attend the convention, Trump demurred, saying, ‘I don’t know. I’m going to take a look at it.’

But he added, ‘There was a lot of bad blood there, and she stayed too long.’

Pointing to another former nomination rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who left the race three days ahead of the New Hampshire primary, Trump said, ‘DeSantis left right after Iowa. She should have left right after Iowa.’

‘She just wouldn’t leave,’ Trump added. ‘Her mistake was she continued on.’

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