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Trump is narrowing his list of possible VP candidates

Donald Trump’s search for a vice presidential running mate has entered an intensified phase, with his campaign requesting documents from at least eight contenders, half of whom are U.S. senators, according to people familiar with the process.

The potential candidates who have received requests for paperwork include: Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.); Doug Burgum, Governor of North Dakota; Reps. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) and Byron Donalds (R-Fla.); and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, according to people familiar with the search, who like others spoke on condition of anonymity to describe private conversations. It is unknown what documentation the campaign specifically requested.

In recent weeks, Trump has repeatedly spoken about Rubio, Vance and Burgum, according to people familiar with his comments. But even as the trial continues, Trump told an ally as much this past week that he is in no rush to make the announcement, and could even push it back to the week of the convention.

The list offers insight into Trump’s priorities for a running mate: The potential candidates all have experience in government and have remained loyal to the former president. The focus on several senators and other members of Congress also highlights Trump’s reshaping of the party, with Republicans largely rallying behind his candidacy and pushing out an older guard of Trump critics.

The competition has become increasingly fierce in recent weeks as potential candidates and their allies try to outdo each other to demonstrate to Trump that they are strong fundraisers, effective ambassadors for his campaign and loyal defenders, even when it comes to his false claims of election interference .

In a recent Newsmax interview, Trump said, “We have some incredible people” being considered.

“I didn’t think Tim Scott ran a race as well as he could run for himself, but as a surrogate for me he’s incredible,” Trump said. “Governor Burgum of North Dakota was incredible. Marco Rubio has been great, JD Vance has been great, we’ve had so many great people, Ben Carson.

Vance will travel with the former president Thursday as he heads to Arizona and then California for fundraising. Vance hosted one of the fundraisers in San Francisco, which is co-hosted by venture capitalist David Sacks, according to a person familiar with the event. Burgum and Scott will also be at the fundraiser, according to a person familiar with the event.

Speaking to reporters in the back of the megachurch auditorium in Phoenix, where Trump was expected to take the stage Thursday afternoon, Vance said he had discussed the search for running mates with campaign staff but not with Trump himself. Vance said the discussion was about “simple things,” like “Are you interested?” and “What do you think of the race?” Vance said, before declining to say what he might add to Trump’s ticket.

“I’ll let Donald Trump make that decision,” he said.

Burgum is seen by some Trump allies as trying too hard, but Trump appears to have real personal chemistry with him, according to people familiar with the matter. Rubio is now beloved by many of Trump’s Florida-based advisers, but there is also the “residency question,” as Trump says. Both Rubio and Trump are Florida residents, which could be a problem because of the complications of the Electoral College.

In an interview this week, Rubio said he only heard about his potential status as Trump’s running mate through the media. Asked whether he would accept an offer to become Trump’s vice president, Rubio replied: “That’s presumptuous, I’m not going to speculate about something that never happened.”

Trump has been known to change his mind and make decisions that have sometimes surprised his own advisers, adding a degree of uncertainty to the next phase of the search. He and his advisers are looking for key risks in the candidates, according to a person in contact with the campaign, who described a sometimes unorthodox process that is the “Trump version of commitment to diverse contenders.” The person spoke on condition of anonymity to describe private conversations.

At a recent fundraiser, a donor called on Trump to pick his former presidential rival Nikki Haley, saying she would help with female voters and appeal to the public on abortion — and that attendees said she would be helpful turn out against Vice President Harris.

“She is a very disloyal person,” Trump said, according to those present. He then complained that she supported Marco Rubio in 2016 even after he sought her endorsement, and that she had been repeatedly disloyal to him since then. “You have to like the person you’re running with, and I don’t like her. I do not like her.”

Trump said he was not worried about her voters leaving him, according to those present. “All those people come to vote for us. Who are they going to vote for? … I think if I picked Nikki Haley, it would seem like such a weak decision.

On Thursday, the Republican National Committee sent an email with the subject line: “My next vice president will be….” It included a short poll that said, “My next vice president will be decided by you!” No specific contenders were mentioned.

Josh Dawsey, Hannah Knowles, Michael Scherer and Dylan Wells contributed to this report.

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