Potential Trump VP contenders at Atlanta debate to spin his performance, make their case

Potential Trump VP contenders at Atlanta debate to spin his performance, make their case
Samuel Corum/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) — As former President Donald Trump and his team continue to tease his vice presidential pick, his potential VP contenders were gathering in Atlanta Thursday to support the former president around the debate and make a case that they’re the best choice to be his running mate.

Potential vice presidential candidates, including Sens. J.D. Vance and Marco Rubio and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum are among the dozens of surrogates the campaign is expected to have on the ground in Atlanta, including in the debate spin room aftereard and at a watch party the campaign is holding Thursday night, where loyal supporters and donors will gather.

Trump himself was scheduled to arrive in Atlanta later Thursday afternoon from his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, and is feeling confident and ready, his senior campaign advisers told ABC News.

As Trump was set to take the debate stage later Thursday, his campaign is fundraising off his much-anticipated running mate selection, suggesting that person could be present at the debate.

“Do you want to see my Vice President at the debate? They could be there, but you’ll never know until I make the OFFICIAL VP ANNOUNCEMENT!” a Trump campaign fundraising email sent out to supporters Thursday morning said.

Trump for weeks has been saying that he’s likely to announce his vice presidential candidate around the Republican National Convention scheduled to take place next month, but Trump in recent days has been teasing the idea of his potential running mate joining him in Atlanta, telling his supporters at a retail campaign stop in Philadelphia last week that that his vice president will “most likely” be in attendance at the debate site.

In recent weeks, Trump has also been asking his donors at fundraisers who they want to see as his running mate and sending out fundraising emails to small-dollar donors asking the same question.

Those on the vice presidential shortlist — including Vance, Rubio and Burgum — were staying mostly quiet on the eve of the debate as they prepared to rally behind their Republican leader. Other Trump surrogates have been on a media tour, holding intimate campaign stops in Atlanta on Wednesday and making television appearances Thursday morning.

In a taped interview on “Fox and Friends,” South Carolina GOP Sen. Tim Scott said he had told Trump “never forget the provocative racial past of Joe Biden,” when asked if he helped the former president in prepare for the debate.

“Donald Trump has done more for progress from a racial perspective economically than any president in my lifetime,” Scott continued. “He should focus on that.”

Florida Republican Rep. Byron Donalds, asked by CNN Thursday morning if he expects Trump to discuss looking forward as a country during the debate rather than focusing on the past, said the former president has been looking forward but added that he might still comment about the 2020 election and the hush money trial and verdict.

“If you’ve been on a trail with the president — I’ve been on a trail with him — if you listen to everything that he says, he’s been talking a lot, significantly, a lot about what’s going on in our country, inflation, the border, foreign policy, all the issues that really matter to the American people,” Donalds said.

Donalds and GOP Rep. Wesley Hunt made rounds of surrogate campaign stops in Atlanta on Wednesday to court black voters on behalf of Trump, stopping by a barbershop and local cigar lounge.

Trump called into the barbershop event earlier on Wednesday, touting his administration’s record, bashing CNN ahead of Thursday’s debate, and once again repeating his argument that he is gaining support with the Black community because of his indictments.

“Since that happened, the Black support, I think my representatives will tell you this, the Black support has gone through the roof and, I guess they equated to problems that they’ve had,” Trump said.

At the watch party Thursday night, where Trump is advertised to potentially make post-debate remarks, Burgum, Vance, Rubio, Donalds, Hunt as well as Rep. Elise Stefanik, former Trump Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and Sen. Lindsey Graham are scheduled to attend as featured guests.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.