Former President Trump praised ex-rival North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum on an Iowa stage Monday night, promising him an “important” role in the next administration.
Trump, who swept all but one of Iowa’s 99 counties during the first in the nation caucuses Monday, has yet to announce his choice of a 2024 running mate.
“Doug Burgum from North Dakota, the governor and his beautiful wife, Catherine, and he got out of the race,” Trump said following his projected Iowa win, addressing the North Dakota governor on stage beside him. Burgum notably suspended his 2024 campaign in December, just six months after launching his dark horse presidential bid.
“What people don’t know is that he actually supported me on the other side twice already. Right?” Trump said of Burgum. “That he decided to do it and he was outstanding. But the traction is never easy, right? You need controversy for traction sometimes. And this guy is the most solid guy. There’s no controversy whatsoever. And he’s one of the best governors in our country. And I hope that I’m going to be able to call on him to be a piece of the administration, a very important piece of the administration.”
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Doug Burgum, center, endorses former President Trump, while joined by Kathryn Burgum, North Dakota’s first lady, left, during a campaign event at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa, on Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024. (Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Burgum, who did not build a substantial base in his own presidential campaign, endorsed Trump on Sunday, as polls indicated Trump would likely dominate in Iowa.
When Burgum dropped out, he blamed his inability to resonate in the race on the Republican National Committee’s strict requirements to qualify for the debate stage.
He qualified for the first two GOP debates with the help of a unique fundraising scheme, offering $20 gift cards in exchange for a $1 donation, so he could juice his number of supporters. Despite that strategy, he could not keep up as more donors were required to make the stage for later debates.
Burgum nearly missed the first debate due to an Achilles tendon injury he suffered while playing basketball with aides the night before.
Former President Trump arrives to speak at a watch party during the 2024 Iowa Republican presidential caucuses in Des Moines, Iowa, on Jan. 15, 2024. (JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
Burgum largely funded his campaign with his own money. Before his time as governor, he was primarily known as a businessman who led Great Plains Software, which Microsoft acquired for over $1 billion in 2001. Burgum stayed on as an executive with Microsoft until 2007. He has led other companies in real estate development and venture capital.
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He is in his second term as governor and is eligible to seek a third in 2024, though he has not indicated whether he plans to run again.
Trump said during a Fox News town hall last week that he already knew who he would choose as his vice presidential running mate but would not announce the decision yet.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis edged out former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley for second place in Iowa on Monday but trailed Trump by about 30 points. Vivek Ramaswamy, who came in fourth place in Iowa, announced he was suspending his 2024 presidential campaign and is headed to New Hampshire to rally with Trump ahead of the Jan. 23 primary there.
Former President Trump, right, listens as North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum speaks during a “commit to caucus rally” in Indianola, Iowa, on Jan. 14, 2024. (CHRISTIAN MONTERROSA/AFP via Getty Images)
As speculation swirls, some names floated by Trump supporters for his running mate include Ramaswamy, as well as South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, Arizona U.S. Senate candidate Kari Lake, House GOP Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., and Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C.
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Stefanik notably on Monday called on other GOP 2024 presidential candidates to drop out after the Iowa caucuses to support Trump in the general election.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.