Trump likes that Tom Cotton went to Harvard, making him a "top contender" to be his running mate

The Arkansas senator is in Trump’s top five choices for a running mate, sources told The New York Times

Published May 24, 2024 10:46AM (EDT)

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) arrives for a news conference on Capitol Hill on May 1, 2024 in Washington, DC. (Andrew Harnik/Getty Images)
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) arrives for a news conference on Capitol Hill on May 1, 2024 in Washington, DC. (Andrew Harnik/Getty Images)

Donald Trump appears to have a few requirements for his running mate, including that whoever it is does what they are told and does not steal the spotlight. He would also prefer an Ivy League pedigree, according to The New York Times, which reported that Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., a Harvard graduate, is now a "top contender."

According to three anonymous sources who have met with Trump, Cotton is a favorite, alongside North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and three of Cotton’s Senate colleagues: Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Tim Scott, R-S.C., and J.D. Vance, R-Ohio. According to the Times, Trump is also considering the five men for posts in his administration, should he win in November.

Where Cotton is concerned, there are some issues to consider. Trump has privately expressed his admiration for Cotton’s reliability and abilities as an effective communicator, as well as praising the senator's Army service and his elite education.

But Cotton voted to certify the 2020 presidential election, which could be a dealbreaker for a man who refuses to acknowledge his defeat. Still, Trump has slim pickings, as both Rubio and Scott also voted to certify the results, while Burgum verbally supported former Vice President Mike Pence’s choice to resist Trump’s pressure to overturn the election.

Trump considered Cotton for an administration post after he won the 2016 presidential election and the two worked closely during their time in Washington, specifically on immigration issues. However, picking Cotton would seem to offer a limited political upside, since he represents a state that already votes Republican in presidential contests. 

Additionally, the senator carries risks. The ticket’s appeal to moderate voters might be hindered by Cotton's endorsement of a national ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Cotton also called for deploying troops against protesters in 2020, and against pro-Palestine college students, which would limit his appeal to disaffected Democrats.

Trump appears to be in no hurry to pick his running mate, though, and a spokesperson refused to confirm the Times' reporting, saying that “only President Trump will rule a contender for Vice President in or out, and anyone claiming to know who he will choose is lying."

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