US Elections 2024: Vivek Ramaswamy and Kristi Noem top straw poll on Donald Trump’s running mate

Vivek Ramaswamy and Kristi Noem
Indian-origin biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem. Screenshots courtesy: Instagram/ vivekgramaswamy; govkristinoem

As Donald Trump looks likely to secure a third presidential nomination from the Republican Party, a straw poll at a prominent gathering of conservative activists has shown that Indian-origin biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem were tied for the top choice to be Trump’s running mate, according to media reports.

The straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), announced at the end of the four-day gathering outside Washington on Saturday, said that Ramaswamy and Noem each garnered 15 per cent of the polled votes, reported The New York Times.

Ramaswamy, 38, who was born in Cincinnati to Indian immigrant parents, ran for the Republican presidential nomination this year but dropped out of the race after finishing fourth in January’s Iowa caucuses. He then withdrew from the race and backed Trump.

Noem, 52, became the first woman governor of South Dakota when she was elected in 2018, endorsed by Trump. During the COVID pandemic, she rose to national prominence over her refusal to issue statewide mandates for vaccinations and wearing face masks.

This was the first time in years that a question about whom Republicans should pick for vice-president had overshadowed one about the presidential nominee in the survey of attendees, said the NYT report.

Trump, 77, won the presidential poll as expected with a landslide over Nikki Haley, 52, beating her 94 per cent to 5 per cent. The last time Trump was not the top choice for the White House among CPAC attendees was in 2016, when Texas Senator Ted Cruz finished first, the report said.

Donald Trump at the CPAC meet
Republican nomination frontrunner Donald Trump at the CPAC gathering. Photo courtesy: Instagram/realdonaldtrump

Former Indian-origin Representative Tulsi Gabbard, from Hawaii, who ran for president as a Democrat in 2020 but has since left the party to become an independent, finished third as the choice of running mate, with 9 per cent of the votes.

She was followed by Representative Elise Stefanik of New York and Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina with 8 per cent votes each.

Senator JD Vance of Ohio, whom CPAC attendees chose as their favourite senator, received 2 per cent of the votes, behind former Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the political scion of a Democratic family who was now running for president as an independent, the report said.

The report said that Trump’s third presidential campaign would be his first without former vice-president Mike Pence — the two had parted ways politically after Pence refused to help Trump overturn the 2020 election won by Joe Biden, a Democrat.

Trump on Sunday secured a resounding win over his Indian-American rival Haley in South Carolina in the Republican primary. He has now won every contest that counted for Republican delegates, adding to his previous wins in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and the US Virgin Islands.