Trump says Texas governor Greg Abbott ‘absolutely’ on vice-president shortlist | Donald Trump

Greg Abbott, the hard-right governor of Texas, is “absolutely” on Donald Trump’s shortlist for vice-president should Trump as expected win the Republican nomination to face Joe Biden.

Calling Abbott a “spectacular man”, Trump told Sean Hannity of Fox News the three-term governor, an anti-immigration extremist, had “done a great job”, adding: “Yeah, certainly he would be somebody that I would very much consider.”

“So he’s on the list?” Hannity said.

“Absolutely, he is,” Trump said, as Abbott listened.

Abbott has engineered showdowns with Democratic authorities, sending undocumented migrants to Democratic-run cities, and with the federal government, blocking border patrol access to the Rio Grande river at a common crossing point for migrants, then refusing to comply with orders to back off.

“He really stepped it up,” Trump said of Abbott on Thursday, during a visit to the spot in question, a park in Eagle Pass, part of a Texas trip the same day Biden visited the border elsewhere.

Abbott, Trump said, had “been amazing”.

Abbott, however, told CNN last week “there’s so many people other than myself who are best situated” to be Trump’s running mate, adding that he would help Trump pick. On Wednesday, Abbott told CBS he intended to run for a fourth term in Texas.

At Trump’s direction, Republicans are attempting to use conditions at the southern border for political gain in an election year, to the extent of the congressional GOP blocking a hardline, bipartisan deal negotiated in the Senate.

In his own border trip, Biden said Trump should “join me” in addressing the problem.

Trump’s dominance of his party is near-complete. This week he enjoyed a major victory when Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Republican Senate leader since 2006 but at odds with Trump since the attack on Congress of 6 January 2021, said he would step down this year.

In Texas, Trump said Abbott should replace McConnell.

“I’d rather be governor of Texas,” Abbott said.

“I think you’re doing well,” Trump said. “I want to keep you in Texas.”

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Trump is all but certain to again capture the Republican presidential nomination, having won all primary contests and with the former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, his last opponent, seen as likely to drop out after Super Tuesday next week.

Trump enjoys such dominance despite facing 91 criminal charges from four indictments, multimillion-dollar civil reversals over his business affairs and an allegation of rape a judge called “substantially true”, and attempts to remove him from the ballot for inciting January 6, most recently in Illinois.

Informal auditions for Trump’s running mate continue.

Hannity asked Trump about his shortlist. Trump gave a less-than-glowing assessment of the presidential campaign mounted by the South Carolina senator Tim Scott, who dropped out early and pivoted to fawning support.

“Tim, for himself, he was fine,” Trump said. “He did OK. I mean, he was OK as a candidate, but he didn’t want to talk about himself. He’s a very good man. For me, he’s unbelievable. He’s a surrogate.”

Other candidates Trump has mentioned include Kristi Noem, governor of South Dakota; Elise Stefanik of New York, the No 3 House Republican; the biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, a former primary rival; Tulsi Gabbard, a former Democratic congresswoman from Hawaii; and Byron Donalds, a far-right congressman from Florida.

Others said to be in the running include JD Vance, a populist senator from Ohio; Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the governor of Arkansas who was Trump’s second White House press secretary; and Katie Britt, a senator from Alabama.

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