Donald Trump surrounded by Mike Johnson, JD Vance, Vivek Ramaswamy, Doug Burgum

Frederic Legrand - COMEO/Shutterstock Lev Radin/Shutterstock Chris Manning/Shutterstock Aaron of L.A. Photography/Shutterstock Lev Radin/Shutterstock (Licensed)

‘The VP hopeful pageant walk’: Big name conservatives are simping outside Trump’s NYC trial as election nears

NYC would be the place to audition.


Katherine Huggins


Posted on May 14, 2024

Former President Donald Trump saw more than one familiar face as he headed into the Manhattan courtroom Tuesday for his ongoing criminal hush money case.

A myriad of conservatives, including House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) and Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.), made appearances at the courthouse in an effort to show their support for Trump.

A number of appearances were made by lawmakers that have been floated as possible vice presidential or cabinet member picks for Trump, who, amid his reelection campaign, have so far remained tight-lipped about any running mate decisions.

According to CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, in addition to Johnson, Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio); former primary rival Vivek Ramaswamy; Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.); Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.); and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum all attended the trial.

“The courtroom is quickly becoming the new tryout for Trump’s VP and Cabinet hopefuls,” she wrote on X.

Many of Trump’s political allies made statements outside the courthouse in defense of Trump, who is staring down 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in connection to hush money payments made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels in the lead-up to the 2016 election.

“The crime that they are accusing President Trump of is falsification of business records,” Johnson told reporters Tuesday. “But I think everybody knows he is not the bookkeeper for his company. President Trump is innocent of these charges. And again, anyone with common sense can understand what is happening here.”

Separately, Burgum, Ramaswamy, and Rep. Cory Mills (R-Fla.) held a joint press conference where they slammed the trial.

“This is a politicized persecution—that is nakedly apparent,” Ramaswamy said.

Burgum, for his part, said the trial is “election interference and it’s tying up the president from being out on the campaign trail.”

“We know that from the polls that have come out… President Trump is leading all over the country,” he added. “And the conclusion you can draw from that is the American people have already acquitted Donald Trump.”

Burgum—who, like Ramaswamy, briefly ran against Trump in the 2024 primary—has shot up as a favorite to be Trump’s VP pick.

According to the online prediction market PredictIt, Burgum is currently the second most favored pick, behind Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.). Just over a week ago, Burgum was not even being considered as a possibility on PredictIt. Vance’s odds sit just slightly behind Burgum as the third most favored pick.

Writes Semafor’s Shelby Talcott: “Trump likes to treat his veepstakes as a reality show production, with all the jostling for his approval and speculation about strategy that comes with it… His Manhattan trial seems like an obvious way to score points in that context, one that may be especially notable to Trump.”

The show of support did not go unnoticed on social media, where users similarly linked appearances to Trump’s VP search.

“The VP Hopeful pageant walk continues this morning at Trump’s trial,” joked one person.

“It’s like the dumbest version of The Bachelor,” concluded someone else.

Trump thus far has given little to no indication on who he may choose as a running mate.

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*First Published: May 14, 2024, 1:42 pm CDT