President Donald Trump on Sept. 27 derided his competitors for the Republican 2024 nomination, suggesting that he sees none of them as potential running mates.
Speaking to autoworkers at Drake Enterprises in Clinton Township, Michigan, a northern suburb of Detroit, President Trump referred to his rivals as "the job candidates," saying that they were only running as an audition for a cabinet position with him.
Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, present for the first debate, did not meet the requirements to attend the second.
President Trump said he received a tour when he arrived at the facility, a non-unionized manufacturer, but was forced to cut the tour short in order to "[compete] with the job candidates."
"They gave me a tour. ... I said come on, let's go, I gotta go fast. I got to make a speech. It's all over television, the speech," he said. "You know we're competing with the job candidates, they're all running for a job.
"They're all job candidates," he reiterated. "They want ... to jump into anything, secretary of something, even [Vice President]," President Trump said, adding, "Does anybody see any VP in the group? I don't think so. No, no."
Shift From Earlier CommentsThe comment strikes a departure from his earlier statements, where he suggested that he may consider some of his rivals as potential running mates.
During a July 16 interview with Fox's Maria Bartiromo ahead of the first Republican debate, President Trump was asked point blank if he'd consider his rivals for a job.
"Is there anyone on that stage you see as potential a running mate, as your VP?" Ms. Bartiromo asked.
"Possibly," President Trump replied. "I think you have some good people on the stage. Actually, I think you have some very talented people. I've been impressed by some of them. Some of them I'm very friendly with, actually.
"I think you have good people. I think you have good potential Cabinet members too, actually," Mr. Trump added, but demurred from giving specific names.
Ms. Bartiromo raised Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) as a potential running mate or cabinet member.
"Do you see yourself perhaps for the senator, Tim Scott?" Ms. Bartiromo asked.
"I think he's a very good guy," President Trump said at the time.
"We did opportunity zones together; it's never been talked about as one of the most successful economic development things ever done in this country," he added, referencing a policy under which certain disadvantaged and poverty-stricken communities are eligible for tax exemptions in the hope of kindling economic growth.
"Tim is very good," President Trump then said. "I mean, I could see him doing something with the administration, but he's ... right now campaigning and I'm sure Tim and everybody else would say 'I'm only interested in one.' But Tim is a talented guy and you have other very talented people."
His new posturing may be due, in part, to a moment from the first debate when most candidates onstage lauded Mr. Pence for moving forward with the certification of the 2020 electoral results despite President Trump's concerns about fraud.
Asked whether Mr. Pence made the right call for choosing to certify the election, each candidate that was asked—including Mr. Scott, Mr. DeSantis, Ms. Haley, Mr. Christie, Mr. Burgum, and Mr. Hutchinson—praised Mr. Pence's actions.
Though Mr. Pence and President Trump have maintained a cordial if distant relationship since leaving office, President Trump has maintained that his proposal to hold the certification of electoral votes was legal and had a basis in past American elections.