Most of the crowd at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference say the candidate best suited to run for vice president in 2024 should closely align with former President Donald Trump, their preferred pick for the Republican presidential nomination.
For CPAC attendees, that means their ideal GOP ticket rules out former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as well as Nikki Haley, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
Even though both Mr. Pompeo and Ms. Haley came to CPAC and made speeches to the CPAC crowd, attendees excluded them from any spot on the GOP presidential ticket.
In their view, the shortlist for Mr. Trump‘s running mate includes South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin and Kari Lake, who ran unsuccessfully for Arizona governor in 2022 and protested the result of her race because of problems with voting machines in Maricopa County.
Sen. Rand Paul, a libertarian-leaning Kentucky Republican who frequently clashed with Dr. Anthony Fauci over COVID-19 mandates and the origins of the virus, also made the list.
Ms. Lake‘s fight over the election results in Arizona, her battles with the media and her embrace of Mr. Trump‘s America First agenda have earned her a big fan club at CPAC, where many attendees believe the 2020 election was corrupted by irregular voting practices and other shenanigans.
“Kari Lake is very open about election integrity and America First,” said Jessica Blankenship, of Cherokee County, Georgia. “That’s where my alignment is.”
Ms. Lake was scheduled as the keynote speaker at CPAC’s exclusive Ronald Reagan Dinner on Friday night.
Mr. Pompeo and Ms. Haley also addressed the CPAC crowd on Friday, but in less-coveted afternoon slots. Each spoke to a half-empty ballroom and received warm but not enthusiastic applause.
“I’m not a Nikki Haley fan,” Patti Roberts, who lives in Great Falls, Virginia, said as she left the auditorium after both Mr. Pompeo and Ms. Haley had spoken.
She said that Ms. Haley’s speech “was amazing,” but Ms. Noem would make a better running mate for Mr. Trump, who she believes is most likely to win the GOP presidential nomination.
Ms. Noem has remained a staunch supporter of Mr. Trump and has taken shots at Republicans who are poised to challenge him for the 2024 GOP nomination.
Ms. Noem also campaigned on behalf of Ms. Lake, whom Mr. Trump endorsed in Arizona’s Republican gubernatorial primary. Ms. Noem recently delivered a foreign policy speech at the America First Policy Institute, a think tank that advocates Mr. Trump‘s policies.
Attendees at the influential gathering of conservatives also discounted Mr. Pompeo, who has not announced a presidential run but is considering getting into the race.
Like Ms. Haley, Mr. Pompeo has rejected assertions that the 2020 race was rigged in favor of President Biden.
Both of them also have publicly declared that Mr. Trump should not become president again following his rejection of the results of the 2020 election.
The CPAC crowd, most of them Trump loyalists, hasn’t forgotten what Ms. Haley and Mr. Pompeo have said about the former president.
Suzanne Monk, a conservative activist who lives in Washington, said she’s not even considering Mr. Trump‘s former secretary of state for his 2024 running mate. That spot belongs to Ms. Greene, she said.
The firebrand House Freedom Caucus member has been fiercely loyal to Mr. Trump and has developed a conservative following after publicly battling liberal House Democrats and their agenda.
Ms. Greene received enthusiastic applause after her speech to CPAC on Friday, but her name was not included in the CPAC straw poll that measures the popularity of Republicans for both president and vice president.
“I wrote her in,” Ms. Monk said. “We definitely need somebody in that seat who has a strong will, because we saw what we got under Mike Pence.”
Mr. Pence, the former vice president, isn’t on Mr. Trump‘s shortlist for vice president this time around. He has been largely rejected by Mr. Trump‘s loyal supporters, who believe Mr. Pence should have blocked Congress from certifying Mr. Biden’s presidential victory.
Mr. Pence did not appear at CPAC.
Debby Lissaur, of Randolph, New Jersey, said she admires Ms. Greene but thinks her addition to the presidential ticket might backfire.
“I loved her speech and I love what she stands for,” Ms. Lissaur said. “But I feel she’s too polarizing. And I don’t think that will help get a Republican elected.”
Ms. Lake, on the other hand, “is also a rabble-rouser, but does it in a way that’s not quite as, I don’t know, unnerving to some people,” Ms. Lissaur said. “So that, to me, would be an amazing ticket.”