Politics

Trump Teases Rubio at Miami Rally as VP Announcement Nears

Former US President Donald Trump (Eva Marie Uzcategui/Photographer: Eva Marie Uzcategu)

(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump injected reality television-level drama into his Miami rally, repeatedly teasing — but stopping short of announcing — Florida Senator Marco Rubio as a running mate as he seeks to draw maximum attention to his vice presidential selection.

The former reality television star-turned politician sought to gin up speculation with a series of plot twists around the event Tuesday evening at the Trump National Doral Miami golf course, suggesting the possibility the candidate would share his decision on a running mate. Rubio spoke to the crowd earlier in the evening at a rally that also featured Trump’s sons.

“Will I announce my VP in 90 minutes?” a fundraising appeal from Trump asked, telling supporters that they were “NOT going to want to miss this.” Shortly before Trump took the stage, his campaign also released prepared remarks, including the phrase, “Tonight, I am officially” before abruptly cutting off, adding to the intrigue.

But Trump did not announce his pick, instead saying that he was “officially” challenging President Joe Biden to another debate — this time without moderators — a format he has pushed in recent days to needle the incumbent over a poor performance in their first showdown of the cycle.

Throughout the event, held outdoors in sweltering temperatures, Trump teased Rubio. The former president discussed a proposal to exclude tipped wages from taxes, a plan which would require legislation passing the House and Senate, but suggested Rubio might not be be a senator much longer to vote on the idea.

“Marco, you’re going to vote for it, I hope,” Trump said. “Well, you may or may not be there to vote for it, but you’ll be involved.” 

Trump has said Rubio is on his shortlist, also mentioning Senators JD Vance of Ohio and Tim Scott of South Carolina, as well as North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum as under consideration, in response to a question from Fox News host Sean Hannity during an interview aired Monday.

Trump told Hannity he had yet to make a final decision on his pick but plans an announcement in the coming week, and suggested it could “even be during the convention,” which begins on July 15 in Milwaukee. Trump has suggested that announcing during the convention could increase viewership of televised event.

Tuesday’s event marked Trump’s reemergence on the campaign trail after a stretch that saw the presumptive Republican nominee largely lay low. That allowed media glare to focus on Biden as the president sought to quell a Democratic revolt after his debate performance left some in the party worrying that he would not be able to defeat Trump and should stand aside for another candidate.

The former president also used the rally to attack Vice President Kamala Harris’s performance on the job. Harris has been floated as a potential candidate to replace Biden at the top of the presidential ticket if he were to step aside.

Trump is also holding a rally on Saturday in Pennsylvania before the Republican convention.

Trump’s campaign trail resurgence comes as Cook Political Report updated their Electoral College analysis that shows a more favorable map for Trump in November. The report moved Nevada, Arizona and Georgia from “toss up” to “lean” Republican. It also shifted Minnesota, New Hampshire and Nebraska’s second congressional district from “likely” Democratic” to “lean” Democratic.

--With assistance from Hadriana Lowenkron.

(Updates with more color from rally. An earlier version corrected the spelling of Republican.)

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