Trump says he knows his VP pick, open to mending ties with rivals

By Nathan Layne

DES MOINES, Iowa (Reuters) -Donald Trump, the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, said on Wednesday he knows who he wants to be his vice president and was open to choosing someone competing against him for the party’s nomination.

“I can’t tell you that really. I mean I know who it’s going to be,” Trump said when asked at a Fox News town hall in Des Moines who would be in the running to be his running mate.

In a follow-up question he was asked whether he would be open to mending ties with any of his rivals in the race, to which he responded: “Oh sure, I will.”

“I don’t see it. I don’t see it,” he said when asked if former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie would be his vice president. “That would be an upset, Christie for vice president.”

Trump also said he was not worried Christie’s exit from the race for the nomination on Wednesday would boost Nikki Haley’s candidacy in this month’s New Hampshire primary and hurt his performance in the state.

“I’m not exactly worried about it,” Trump said when asked at a Fox News town hall in Des Moines, Iowa, about the impact of former New Jersey Governor Christie ending his bid for the 2024 nomination on Wednesday.

“I love the people. They love me, I think,” he said.

Christie’s base of support was greatly concentrated in New Hampshire, the northeastern U.S. state that holds the second Republican nominating contest on Jan. 23 after Iowa on Monday. The 2024 election itself is on Nov. 5.

Trump noted that Christie was overheard on Wednesday predicting that former U.N. Ambassador Haley was “gonna get smoked” in the race and was “not up to” the job of the presidency, saying he agreed with Christie.

Trump said the Haley comment was one of the few things that Christie, a critic of Trump’s policies and character, was right about.

Trump retains a commanding lead in the contest to be the party’s nominee against President Joe Biden in the Nov. 5 election, according to a nationwide Reuters/Ipsos poll completed on Tuesday.

The poll put him at 49%, ahead of Haley at 12% and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis at 11%.

The town hall took place at the same time Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Haley came out swinging during a debate, as the two candidates sought to emerge as the clear alternative to Trump just days before the campaign’s first votes are cast.

But with the former president absent once again from the debate stage, the rivals focused much of their ammunition on each other, rather than the clear frontrunner in the race.

(Reporting by Nathan Layne in Des Moines, Iowa; Editing by Howard Goller)

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