Home News Trump’s Praise Praise Does Not Bode Well for Vance VP Pick

Trump’s Praise Praise Does Not Bode Well for Vance VP Pick


Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty

The political career of J.D. Vance has undergone quite the transformation. In 2016 he was fretting to his college roommate that Donald Trump might be “America’s Hitler.” Today the U.S. senator from Ohio is aggressively pro-Trump, and he’s rumored to be one of the top finalists on the VP shortlist (along with Doug Burgum, Marco Rubio, and maybe Tim Scott). But those who believe Vance has excellent odds of becoming Trump’s 2024 running mate are forgetting one very important thing: Vance has a beard, and Trump has a weird aversion to facial hair.

The former U.S. president/beauty-pageant owner puts a lot of stock in who has “the look”; when filling his Cabinet he praised several candidates for being “out of central casting.” And as the Bulwark reported on July 9, it’s likely that in Trump’s mind, a vice-president should not have facial hair.

“J.D. has a beard. But Trump is a clean-shaven guy. He just doesn’t like facial hair,” a Trump confidant told the outlet. “You just never know.”

Trump’s issues with whiskers are well-known. In 2020 he publicly told his son Don Jr. to get rid of his quarantine beard, and John Bolton’s bushy mustache reportedly took him out of the running for secretary of State (in 2018 he became national security adviser, but by then Trump was desperate). Trump is basically a real-life version of Monty Burns shouting at Don Mattingly to “shave those sideburns.” But that solution isn’t going to work for Vance, according to the Bulwark:

So why not shave his face? It’s probably out of the question for Vance because of how young he is and looks. The Ohio senator turns 40 on August 2 and would be the third-youngest vice president to serve. But Trump wants someone who is experienced—or at least looks experienced. And “without the beard, Vance looks like he’s 12,” said another Trump adviser.

So Vance — who admitted it’ll be a “disappointment” if Trump does’t pick him for VP — must have been relieved when Trump denied that his beard is an issue during a July 10 interview with Brian Kilmeade on Fox News Radio.

“It looks good,” Trump said. “He looks like a young Abraham Lincoln.”

This was generally taken as a “glowing endorsement” of Vance’s look. And sure, to any sane person that’s what it sounds like. But it’s a huge red flag to anyone well-versed in Trump’s bizarre grudges and insecurities .

Trump has a long-running rivalry with Abraham Lincoln. It is a one-sided beef, as the 16th president is dead, and he clearly would not be threatened by Trump even if he weren’t. But on numerous occasions, Trump has pointed to Lincoln as the one possible exception to his claims of being the greatest president of all time.

“I’ve always said I can be more presidential than any president in history except for Honest Abe Lincoln, when he’s wearing the hat,” Trump said at a rally in 2019. “That’s tough, that’s tough. That’s a tough one to beat.”

Trump continued claiming that he’s “always competed” against Lincoln throughout his presidency, and earlier this year he blasted his 19th-century predecessor for failing to use negotiation tactics to prevent the Civil War.

So is it really a good sign for Vance that he reminds Trump of the man he thinks of as his biggest rival? Particularly when Trump has already been publicly warned that Vance could potentially “outshine” him, and even replace him as leader of the MAGA movement?

I’d argue that it’s actually a good indicator that Vance should brace himself for disappointment. Why would Trump pick a running mate who stirs up his deep-seated Lincoln-related insecurities when he could go with Burgum, a guy who most resembles an inoffensive, lesser-known Muppet?

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