Kristi Noem and Vivek Ramaswamy are CPAC’s picks for Trump’s running mate

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy tied for former President Donald J. Trump’s top running mate in a straw poll Saturday at a prominent gathering of conservative activists.

The straw poll at the 2024 Conservative Political Action Conference marked the first time in years that the question of who Republicans should pick for vice president overshadowed the question of the presidential nominee in a poll of participants.

That was partly because Mr. Trump won the presidential election, as expected, by a landslide. The last time Mr. Trump was not the top choice for the White House among CPAC attendees was in 2016, when Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas finished first.

The straw poll, which provides one measure of far-right enthusiasm and is not intended to be predictive, was released at the end of CPAC’s four-day gathering outside Washington.

Several Republicans seen as Mr. Trump’s running mate spoke at the event. They included Florida Rep. Byron Donalds on Thursday; Ms. Noem, Senator JD Vance of Ohio and Representative Elise Stefanik of New York on Friday; and Arizona Senate candidate Kari Lake on Saturday. Mr. Ramaswamy spoke on both Friday and Saturday.

Ms. Noem and Mr. Ramaswamy each won 15 percent of the vote in the straw poll. Former Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, who ran for president as a Democrat in 2020 but has since left the party to become an independent, was third with 9 percent, behind Ms. Stefanik and Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina with 8 percent each.

“It seems like I’m the only one not running for vice president,” said Tom Fitton, president of the conservative group Judicial Watch, who spoke at the conference. “Though – who knows what will happen.”

Attention to the vice presidential issue has also been notable as Mr. Trump is still fending off a challenge for the Republican presidential nomination from former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. He has won the party’s first few contests for the nomination and is expected to win again Saturday in Ms. Haley’s home state.

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