Experts reveal major 'downside' to potential Trump VP pick: 'No wow factor'

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of profiles of potential running mates for presidential candidate Donald Trump on the 2024 Republican Party ticket.

A possible frontrunner on former President Trump’s running mate shortlist has a major “downside” that could make his potential selection a bad bet, multiple campaign and election experts told Fox News Digital.

The horse race among those hoping to be named Trump’s running mate continued this week. Those widely believed to be on the shortlist made the rounds on various media outlets and at events alongside the former president, including North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, who some say lacks a “wow factor.”

“He’s not a known commodity. He’s not somebody that, I think, instinctively would fire up the base or fire up Republicans,” GOP strategist Dave Polyansky said, citing concerns over Burgum’s lack of name recognition despite running in the Republican presidential primaries last year.


From left, Ohio Sen. JD Vance, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Arkansas Gov. Sarah Sanders and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (Getty Images)

He argued that, although firing up the base wasn’t the main purpose in a choice for running mate, there was no “overwhelming cry” from Republicans across the country for Burgum to be the pick.

“Again, that shouldn’t necessarily be a decider, but there’s no wow factor to him,” Polyansky said.

Veteran Republican strategist Karl Rove agreed Burgum’s name recognition was also a problem and that he’s “from a small, heavily Republican state” when the battle for the presidency could come down to who wins over voters in the battlegrounds of Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Wisconsin.

Rove also predicted Burgum’s wealth could “make him a target for the left.”


Republican strategist Erin Perrine told Fox “the downsides to Burgum’s selection are not deeply controversial given other possible selections the former president could make” but agreed with Rove that Burgum hailing from a reliably red state with a small population wouldn’t impact the electoral map.

“Some might argue that other potential candidates could bring more expertise, higher visibility or diversity to the ticket, leading to doubts about Burgum’s suitability as a VP nominee,” she said. She added Burgum declaring last year he wouldn’t serve as Trump’s running mate, as well as the possibility he might face intensified media scrutiny regarding his absence from North Dakota over the past year, would likely complicate his selection.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum encourages voters to support former President Trump during a campaign rally at The Margate Resort Jan. 22, 2024, in Laconia, New Hampshire. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“It doesn’t take much for the media to pounce, and campaigning as a sitting governor has proven difficult for others running for other offices before,” she said.

Others were more blunt when it came to the possibility of Burgum’s selection, including a source close to the Trump campaign who said there was “more downside than upside there,” citing the concerns over his name recognition and being from North Dakota.

“If I had to rank him, I’d put him in the top five, maybe five or six, but not any higher,” the source said.

GOP pollster Scott Rasmussen simply told Fox, “I see no reason why Gov. Burgum should even be in the discussion other than media speculation. The fact that Trump featured him at the recent rally is interesting, but I suspect the governor will play some other role in the campaign.”

Burgum, despite those concerns, does have a number of strong qualities experts said could provide a boost to Trump, including his record as the chief executive of a state and as a business leader.


Former President Trump attends the annual Lincoln Reagan Dinner hosted by the Minnesota Republican Party, May 17, 2024, in St. Paul. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

“Burgum is a successful two-term governor of a major energy- and agricultural-producing state who’s championed education reform, tax cuts and government reform,” Rove said. “He’s also built a tech company — Great Plains Software — in the Midwest heartland, which he sold to Microsoft, becoming a top executive with the company before entering politics.”

Polyansky said one of the most “compelling” reasons to have Burgum’s name on the ticket was because of his television presence.

“He’s proven himself over the last month to be a great, very agile and pretty effective communicator,” he said. “Burgum’s shown that he can do some good in terms of his ability to communicate and drive a message.”

Perrine said Burgum’s “no-drama, no-nonsense demeanor has boosted the economy and safety of North Dakota,” and that being a “businessman-turned-governor” was “a mirror to Trump that the former president would appreciate.”

The source close to Trump’s campaign praised the governor as “a vote getter.”

“He’s a decent man,” the source said.

From left, House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina (Getty Images)

A number of other big names have also been floated to join Trump on the Republican ticket, including South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, Arkansas Gov. Sarah Sanders, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, House GOP Conference Chair Elise Stefanik, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, Ohio Sen. JD Vance and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

Trump, who spent most of his week sitting on trial in a New York City courtroom while President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are free to hit the campaign trail, is still weighing his running mate options. He suggested last week he might even wait until the July Republican National Convention in Milwaukee to name his pick.

Fox News Digital has reached out to representatives of Burgum for comment.

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.

Brandon Gillespie is an associate editor at Fox News. Follow him on X at @BGillespieAL.

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