Just days before the New Hampshire primary, New York Rep. Elise Stefanik took the stage at a rally in Concord, New Hampshire, making the case for Donald Trump — and, some speculate, her own personal case to be his running mate.

“We need to restore and elect Donald J. Trump as the next commander in chief because we know he was our strongest commander in chief,” she told the crowd Friday evening. “Are we ready to make America great again?”

Stefanik, fresh off a stunning rise to power on Capitol Hill, is now at the center of 2024 speculation, with reports that Trump is eying her as a potential vice presidential pick if he is the GOP nominee. 

What You Need To Know

  • Donald Trump is reportedly eying New York Rep. Elise Stefanik as a vice presidential pick if he is the GOP nominee

  • Stefanik, who kept Trump at arm's length in 2016, is one of Trump's fiercest supporters in Washington, defending him in the face of his many indictments, filing complaints against a judge handling his civil cases and declaring herself proudly "ultra-MAGA"

  • Some Trump primary voters in New Hampshire praised Stefanik as a "star" and a "fighter," while others told Spectrum News they are not familiar with her

  • Asked about the prospect of a VP nod, Stefanik told Spectrum News in 2022 that she would be "honored to serve in the Trump administration" — an answer similar to what she's told other news outlets in recent weeks

At Friday’s rally, Trump later called Stefanik back onto the stage. He praised her “surgical” questioning of top university presidents during a recent House hearing on antisemitism. He also called her “special,” while simultaneously mangling the pronunciation of her name. 

Stefanik’s Embrace of Trump

Stefanik and Trump were not always allies. 

The congresswoman kept Trump at arm’s length when he launched his 2016 campaign. She blasted his attacks on Gold Star parents and criticized his comments about groping women on the now notorious Access Hollywood tape as “just wrong.”

Now, Stefanik is one of Trump’s fiercest supporters in Washington. 

She came out early to endorse Trump’s 2024 bid. She has defended him in the face of mounting indictments, complaining of a “weaponized” legal system. She has filed ethics complaints against judges involved in Jan. 6 cases and Trump’s civil fraud trial in New York

She also has declared herself proudly "ultra-MAGA." And three weeks ago, when Trump called Jan. 6 defendants “hostages,” the next day, Stefanik did, too

“I have concerns about the treatment of Jan. 6 hostages,” she said during an appearance on Meet the Press. 

Her embrace of Trump has fueled her meteoric rise among House Republicans (she was elected chairwoman of the House GOP in 2021), earning her fans and critics. 

That embrace also could bode well for her chances to become Trump’s number two, says Todd Belt, director of the political management program at The George Washington University. He considers her the odds-on favorite for the job. 

Trump “cares about three things: loyalty, loyalty and loyalty,” he said. “She changed her tune on Donald Trump. Donald Trump loves that. She's been out there, especially last weekend, defending him in the press.”

What Stefanik and Voters are Saying

In New Hampshire, Spectrum News asked Trump primary voters about the prospect of Stefanik as his running mate. Some offered praise. 

“She’s a fighter,” Andrea Batstone said. 

“She’s a rising star,” Joe Kenney said, before clarifying, “I don't even think she's rising. I think she's a star already.”

Others, though, made it clear that she is not a household name — at least not yet.

“I’m not very familiar with her, to be honest with you,” said Gary Hobbs of Bedford, New Hampshire.

Stefanik plays coy when asked about being Trump’s running mate. In recent interviews, she has echoed something she told Spectrum News in Aug. 2022: “I would be honored to serve in the Trump administration. I strongly support President Trump running.”

Asked if Stefanik has had any discussions with Trump about the VP job, a senior advisor to the chairwoman said she does not discuss her conversations with the former president.

The advisor noted Stefanik looks forward to serving as a Trump surrogate in South Carolina ahead of the Feb. 24 GOP primary there. She is scheduled to speak at a Republican dinner in Aiken County on Feb. 10. “She will continue to do all she can to ensure that President Trump is reelected and we can Make America Great Again,” the advisor said. 

Spectrum News reached out to the Trump campaign to ask for a comment about Stefanik and whether she is on the short list for VP, but they did not respond by deadline.