Doug Burgum auditions for an audience of one

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum auditioned for the role of Donald Trump's running mate with a Monday morning interview on the former president’s beloved Fox & Friends. Burgum sat down with the show’s Trump loyalist co-host, Brian Kilmeade, for a softball interview in which Burgum lavished praise on Trump’s “clarity and focus and strength” and his “positive energy.”

Burgum, who is reportedly rising up Trump’s vice presidential shortlist, was performing for an audience of one: Trump had posted about the program’s previous segment in near-real time on his Truth Social platform, so it is reasonable to assume he also saw Burgum’s interview before heading to the Manhattan courthouse for his New York criminal trial.

With his would-be patron watching, Burgum showered Trump with accolades. Notably, he exclusively referred to the GOP presumptive nominee as “President Trump” and to his opponent as simply “Joe Biden” or “Biden.” 

Video file

Citation From the May 6, 2024, edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends.

Here’s a sampling of Burgum’s rhetoric:

  • “I think it's just a great contrast between President Trump, who is leading with strength, and Joe Biden, who is, his weakness.”
  • “Leadership is having clarity and focus and strength and knowing whose team you are on. And President Trump is clear: Two words, America First.” 
  • “President Trump was bringing so much positive energy this weekend — he spoke for about 90 minutes without a TelePrompter, without a script. He is -- if anybody has had a chance to see him in that environment, so funny.”
  • “It's an honor to represent President Trump, because he stands for the things that this country needs to — secure borders, peace abroad, and American strength. I mean, he is representing strength vs. weakness.”
  • “President Trump was very focused on the future during his remarks, where he is going to take this country and that's what he is delivering, and that's what voters want to hear.”

Burgum received a leg up from Kilmeade. The Fox host touted Burgum’s reported position on the VP shortlist, lauded his business acumen, and closed the interview by predicting that even if Burgum isn’t Trump’s running mate he will end up in Trump’s Cabinet. 

Kilmeade also avoided potential trouble spots for Burgum, such as abortion (he signed one of the strictest anti-abortion laws in the country, banning the practice throughout pregnancy with few exceptions) and his would-be predecessor, Mike Pence (Pence has said he will not endorse Trump, whose unsuccessful effort to get his former running mate to overturn the results of the 2020 election led to chants of “Hang Mike Pence” during the January 6 insurrection). He also avoided mention of Trump’s violent, apocalyptic, and authoritarian commentary

Trump has a long record of basing his decisions on what he sees on Fox. From September 2018 until Trump was kicked off of Twitter in January 2021, I found nearly 1,400 examples of Trump tweeting in direct response to something he saw on the network. This research, which I described as the “Trump-Fox feedback loop,” showed the public just how much Fox was impacting the then-president of the United States — and our daily lives. As his vice-presidential search continues, would-be candidates will doubtlessly do their best to make a good impression on him through his television.