Where the VP contenders stand on Trump’s biggest issue: From the Politics Desk

Welcome to the online version of From the Politics Desk, an evening newsletter that brings you the NBC News Politics team’s latest reporting and analysis from the campaign trail, the White House and Capitol Hill.

In today’s edition, campaign embed Alec Hernández outlines what Donald Trump’s VP contenders have said about accepting the 2020 — and 2024 — election results. Plus, chief political analyst Chuck Todd explains why needed to debate Trump earlier than the fall.

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Where Trump’s VP contenders stand on accepting the 2020 (and 2024) election results

By Alec Hernández

No matter how much closer the country gets to the 2024 election, Donald Trump can’t stop looking back to the one four years ago.

On the campaign trail, the former president consistently brings up his unfounded claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him by Democrats. He has even said he doesn’t really want to hire anyone on his campaign who accepts that Joe Biden won in 2020.

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Yet a number of politicians considered top contenders for becoming Trump’s running mate did just that and now have to show their loyalty to the former president in other ways. Others, however, have long been vocal about their false claims of a rigged election.

Rep. Elise Stefanik of New York, a fervent Trump supporter on Capitol Hill, notably voted against certifying Pennsylvania’s election results even after Trump supporters stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Sen. JD Vance of Ohio has been a megaphone for Trump’s stolen election claims and has signaled that he would have declined to certify the election had he been in then-Vice President Mike Pence’s position.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum has acknowledged that Trump ultimately lost the 2020 election and said during the first GOP primary debate last year that “Mike Pence did the right thing on Jan. 6.” But lately, he’s pinned Biden’s win on irregularities in the voting process.

Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Tim Scott of South Carolina both voted to certify Biden’s 2020 election victory. Rubio has agreed with the former vice president that he did not have the constitutional authority to overturn the election results, while Scott has said Pence “absolutely” did the right thing.

And now, duking it out to show Trump that they stand by him, none of these potential vice presidential picks has committed unequivocally to accepting the 2024 election results.

Read more about what these and other VP contenders have said about the 2020 and 2024 election results →

The campaign shakeup Biden needed

By Chuck Todd

Whatever happens in the first debate between Biden and Trump, it’s guaranteed to be among the most consequential moments of this campaign. And depending on the performance of one or both, holding that early debate in June could be the most consequential decision of this campaign.

To claim we are in uncharted waters or unprecedented territory is an understatement’s understatement. But make no mistake, the trajectory of this race for Biden — coupled with the outside events that are all working against the incumbent right now, namely inflation and Israel’s military operation in the Gaza Strip — was not sustainable, so the Biden campaign had to do something to change it.

It’s possible that Biden could have waited until the prescheduled debates in September or October to hope for a game-changing moment. But that would have been cutting it close.

Waiting until the fall to create a better contrast with Trump would have limited the opportunities to call audibles if Plan A didn’t work. Biden needed to shake up this race before the summer season of conventions and the Olympics.

Perhaps the reason both Biden and Trump wanted this early debate is that they both feared the Commission on Presidential Debates would end up qualifying Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to participate in its events in the fall. By going this early, both candidates are setting up a one-on-one shot at each other before having to reckon with Kennedy, assuming he can get on enough ballots by the fall and qualify in the polls with a sustained 15% level of support.

An early debate also allows Biden’s and Trump’s campaigns more time to recalibrate before their own conventions, essentially mitigating the possibility that one debate ends their campaign. A bad debate performance in the fall could be more catastrophic politically than it would be, say, a week before July 4. And of course, going early doesn’t preclude more debates in the fall.

Read more from Chuck here →

That’s all from The Politics Desk for now. If you have feedback — likes or dislikes — email us at [email protected]

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This article was originally published on NBCNews.com


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