As Donald Trump and his team start the process of finding a 2024 running mate, it’s not exactly a secret that House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik is under consideration. The former president has admitted as much.
With this in mind, the New York congresswoman is going to cringeworthy lengths to impress Team Trump, abandoning any sense of shame. Stefanik, for example, has echoed the former president’s rhetoric about Jan. 6 criminals being “hostages,” and soon after, the House GOP leader removed her original statement about the Jan. 6 attack — a statement that’s no longer consistent with far-right talking points — from her official website.
As Stefanik continues to rebrand herself as a radical and reactionary politician, her efforts to impress Team Trump are far from over. USA Today reported overnight:
Rep. Elise Stefanik, a Republican from upstate New York who is being floated as a possible vice presidential pick for Donald Trump, said Thursday she would not have certified votes on Jan. 6 if she was in Vice President Mike Pence’s position. “I don’t think that was the right approach,” said Stefanik to CNN’s Kaitlan Collin. “I think it is very important that we continue to stand up for the Constitution and have legal and secure elections, which we did not have in 2020.”
For now, let’s put aside the fact Pence obviously did the right thing by following the law on Jan. 6. Let’s also not dwell on how truly breathtaking it was to see Stefanik talking about standing up “for the Constitution,” while describing a radical plot to overturn the results of a free and fair election because her corrupt ally didn’t like the results.
Instead, let’s consider the GOP’s apparent race to the bottom.
Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, for example, is also rumored to be in contention for his party’s vice presidential nominee. Two weeks ago, however, Time magazine reported that some of Trump’s “staunchest allies are mobilizing against Scott,” because they suspect he’s simply not hostile enough toward democracy.
During a presidential primary debate in August, for example, the senator said then-Vice President Pence “absolutely” did the right thing on Jan. 6 — and that's a position that will hurt his chances of making Trump's ticket.
Just days after the Time report was published, Sen. J.D. Vance sat down with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, who asked, more than once, whether the Ohio Republican would’ve agreed to certify the 2020 presidential election had he been the vice president at the time. The senator, who’s also rumored to be on his party’s VP short-list, eventually replied, “If I had been vice president, I would have told the states, like Pennsylvania, Georgia, and so many others, that we needed to have multiple slates of electors.”
That was, of course, an utterly bonkers answer, though it’s the sort of thing that was likely well received at Mar-a-Lago.
Four days later, Stefanik appeared on CNN and also denounced Pence for having followed the law.
What we have, in other words, is a dynamic in which key Republican figures, eager to impress their party’s likely nominee, are taking every opportunity to express their wholesale indifference to the rule of law, confident that it will improve their chances of joining their party’s national ticket.
What’s more, it’s early February. The race to the bottom is almost certain to get worse in the coming months, as GOP contenders look for new ways to prove they’re even more ridiculous than their intraparty rivals.