It is now just two months until the Republican National Convention. It figures to be the most upbeat RNC in recent memory. In 2020, we all suffered from the shadow of both COVID-19 nonsense and the pall of the George Floyd summer of love. The 2016 convention, meanwhile, suffered from intrigue and division: some delegates conspired to throw the nomination to a non-Donald Trump candidate, while headline speaker Ted Cruz delivered a rousing address only to refuse to give Trump his endorsement at the end. The 2024 convention will finally be the Republican convention Donald Trump deserves. A great big party for MAGA supporters of all stripes to turn out and lend momentum to Trump’s stronger-than-ever political revolution.

But the energy of the July convention will be drastically shaped by a choice President Trump is expected to make shortly before it. Sometime just before the RNC, Trump will announce who he has chosen as his 2024 running mate. If the choice is a good one, it will give the convention, the campaign, and Trump’s political revolution that much more energy. But if the choice is a poor one, it will be a missed opportunity that saps energy rather than adding it.

As is his habit, Trump has kept his list of potential VPs quite large and practically held public tryouts for the job without giving many strong hints about how he himself is leaning.

Recently, we wrote at great length why J.D. Vance is the ideal choice for Trump’s running mate. Vance emphasizes Trump’s policy and narrative strengths; he has shown savvy on tough political issues like abortion, and should he be called on to serve as president himself, he would be the strongest contender to fulfill and complete Trump’s political legacy. And most importantly, he’s a political winner right now, providing the kind of firepower Trump wants to get over the hump in November.

We still see Vance as the best choice, by far.

But today, we’re talking about another group: the VP contenders President Trump should stay away from.

Obviously, we will be supporting the Trump ticket no matter what his choice is (except Nikki Haley). But we of course also want Trump’s political revolution to be as formidable as possible, and that means not picking a bad choice. With that in mind, here are candidates on Trump’s shortlist who fall a rung below other options.

Tim Scott

All the way back in 2021, we warned at length about why Sen. Scott should not be seen as the future of the Republican Party. All the reasons given then still hold today.

In 2018, Scott scuttled Trump judicial nominee Ryan Bounds over articles he’d written as an undergraduate a quarter-century earlier. A full two years before the peak of “cancel culture,” Scott participated in it himself. Just like the left-wing radicals he was copying, Scott waited for Bounds to deliver an unnecessary, humiliating apology, then knifed him anyway, announcing he would not vote for Bounds and causing his nomination to fail. Afterwards, left-wing groups gloated about their achievement.

Scott hitched his wagon to the disgraceful anti-police push of the Summer of Floyd, demanding not only the imprisonment of Derek Chauvin but also that of his three fellow officers, who were railroaded to multiyear prison sentences.

Scott even more disgracefully demanded the arrest of the officer who shot knife-wielding Kenosha criminal Jacob Blake. That officer was so innocent that he was quickly cleared, even in the hysterical environment of 2020. But for Scott, it was an opportunity to bolster his anti-cop credentials.

Senator Scott is fundamentally in the same interventionist mold as fellow South Carolinians like Lindsey Graham and Nikki Haley. In late 2019, he was one of many Republicans who yelped about President Trump’s planned withdrawal from Syria on the bizarre grounds that this would “abandon” Kurdish allies and expose them to some kind of Turkish genocide.

All of the above are very bad, but Revolver published this piece three years ago, so what has happened since? Well, Scott has been an enthusiastic member of the war party on Ukraine, staunchly backing every wave of U.S. military aid to that distant quagmire. In the third GOP primary debate, Scott suggested he wants to bomb Iran or even undertake regime change there, on the tenuous grounds that “You actually have to cut off the head of the snake.”

Scott has publicly urged President Trump to endorse a national 15-week abortion ban. Choosing him would, inevitably, elevate abortion as an issue in this election. Regardless of how one feels about the issue, it’s clear that in 2024, sweeping abortion bans are not a winning national political issue. Polls show the public on balance favors abortion rights, and abortion restrictions have consistently lost up-or-down votes at the state level. There is a reason Democrats are desperately trying to make 2024 a referendum on abortion, as this is just about the only referendum they could win with the public.

President Trump’s abortion stance is clearly the right one for the moment. By declaring abortion a state issue, he doesn’t back off on a moral condemnation of abortion and still touts his achievement in getting Roe v. Wade overturned, but also makes it clear that he will not ram through an unpopular law that will simply lead to a Democrat victory and subsequent repeal. Trump should be wary of a VP candidate like Scott, who might pull him off of this position.

Finally, there are those who are still under the delusion that the path to victory is to pander to the minority vote and support Tim Scott for that reason. Even if pandering were the right way to go (it’s not, strategically or ideologically), Scott would be a horrible choice. Tim Scott, while African American, is simply not someone who is popular with the African American community. As Revolver’s Darren Beattie wryly put it, rather than appealing to blacks, Tim Scott appeals to a certain kind of clueless white GOP donor who wants to appeal to blacks. Not smart.

Marco Rubio

After largely flying under the radar as a prospect for the past four years, Florida’s senior senator and the darling of the 2010 Tea Party wave has reemerged as a serious contender to be Trump’s running mate. There are elements that recommend him: Like Vance, Rubio is a proven political winner in what was (until recently) a competitive swing state. Most recently, in 2022, he crushed challenger Val Demings, a rising Democrat star who outspent him by $26 million.

But scratch deeper, and Rubio has significant shortcomings. To go from a state winner to a national one, a candidate needs the right agenda, the right record, and the right appeal, and on this front, Rubio is lacking.

Rubio participated in the shameful destruction of Ryan Bounds, retracting his vote after Scott’s and thereby taking Scott’s stunt from a show of dissent to a nomination-killing disaster. Just like with Scott, this decision was a profoundly worrisome show of submission to the left’s tactic of character assassination against its enemies. And speaking of assassination, Rubio, who is popular with the D.C. class and his fellow senators, would substantially increase Trump’s vulnerability to both impeachment and, dare we say, literal assassination.

On foreign policy, while Rubio is a step above the Lindsey Grahams of the world, it’s only a step. In 2016, Rubio was the neocons’ candidate of choice, and his foreign policy team was literally described as a “neocon dream team.” Now, Rubio doesn’t seem genuinely committed to interventionist wars the way Graham is or John McCain was. In recent years, he’s made a good effort to pivot along with Trump’s revolution, for instance by opposing Ukraine funding. But broadly, Rubio has always come across as a foreign policy empty suit, easily pushed back and forth by donors and the broader currents of the GOP, rather than charting his own course based on his own beliefs.

Not only that, eleven years ago, Rubio was part of the Gang of Eight, a collection of Democrats and Republicans who crafted a sweeping immigration reform bill. Rubio’s four fellow Republicans in that group say it all: John McCain, Jeff Flake, and Lindsey Graham. The bill they carried through the Senate would have included amnesty (in the form of a path to citizenship) for all illegal immigrants, as well as a green card fast-track for foreign students and expanded work permits for foreign workers in specific industries. The only upside of the Gang of Eight bill was that it was so bad that it provided Donald Trump with an opening to run in 2016 on an anti-immigration platform. So, in a roundabout way, we have Marco Rubio’s disastrous immigration agenda to thank for President Trump, but that doesn’t mean he should be rewarded with a vice presidential nod.

Elise Stefanik

Though not terribly famous compared to some other contenders, Stefanik has consistently been a favorite of Trump himself, dating back to when she aggressively defended Trump from the first impeachment attempt against him in 2019 and supported his efforts to contest the 2020 results a year later. Trump has repeatedly shown interest in picking a woman in the belief this would boost him with women, and if he makes such a decision, Stefanik must be considered a favorite for the nod.

But there are red flags. More flagrantly than any other Veep contender, Stefanik has all the markings of someone who started with radically different politics and has reinvented herself in a nakedly careerist ploy to boost herself by getting in Trump’s good graces.

Before she became a favorite of President Trump, Stefanik was a favorite of Paul Ryan. In 2016, she performed the amusing feat of endorsing Trump but refusing to use his name, only calling him “my party’s nominee.” In 2017, Stefanik slammed Trump for pulling out of the Paris climate agreement, complaining that this standout example of America-first policymaking hurt the effort to fight climate change and isolated America from its so-called “allies.” That same year, she also condemned Trump’s travel ban on seven Muslim-majority nations linked to terrorism, and in early 2019, she was one of just a handful of Republicans to join a Democrat effort to override Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the border. In 2018, Stefanik helped complete a Democrat demolition job on EPA administrator Scott Pruitt by demanding his resignation. Like Sen. Scott, she joined the Republican insurrection opposing Trump’s planned Syrian troop withdrawal.

And then, in fall 2019, almost everything changed with Stefanik’s show of defending Trump against impeachment. Yet while she became a firm defender of Trump on a personal level, her politics remained far from his. In 2019 and 2020, Stefanie voted with Trump less than 70 percent of the time, the 7th-lowest figure of any Republican in the House. During the Biden years, she has remained one of the most liberal Republicans in the House.

Kristi Noem

Okay, this entry might be a bit unnecessary now, but Trump has been praising the South Dakota governor quite recently, so we thought we’d play it safe and emphasize: Even if it were revealed tomorrow that the real Kristi Noem had been imprisoned in some cellar while Killer Kristi the Dog Destroyer was a body double, the real Kristi would still be a bad veep choice!

Besides being attractive for her age, Noem’s main appeal has always been her state’s performance during COVID-19. South Dakota never issued a mask mandate and never mandated lockdowns, and it even allowed the Sturgis motorcycle rally to go ahead in August. For much of 2020, South Dakota had a credible claim to being the freest place in the developed world, and Noem benefited greatly from it.

The problem: Noem wasn’t responsible for South Dakota’s COVID policies. In reality, Noem simply lacked the power as governor to impose lockdowns or mask mandates. She asked the South Dakota legislature to give her such powers, and the legislature admirably refused. It was South Dakota’s legislature, not its governor, that deserves credit for preserving freedom in the state during the dark days of 2020.

Take away her stolen COVID valor, and what does Noem have left? She had a chance to be seen as the governor kicking off the wider counter-revolution against transgender mania, but instead, Noem vetoed a ban on men in women’s sports like a wuss. Her approval in South Dakota is in the tank, and she made that weird ad for a dentist who doesn’t live in her state.

So yeah, nobody should fall for any kind of “comeback” story for Kristi. How does the saying go: Let shot-dead dogs lie?