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Tamar Hallerman

David Perdue on Trump VP talk: ‘My only focus now is to help him get elected’

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WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 04: Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) (C) and Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) (R) leave a Senate bipartisan lunch in the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill February 4, 2015 in Washington, DC. Senators from both parties said they did not talk about current legislation during the lunch and said they plan to continue the bipartisan lunch once every month. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

U.S. Sen. David Perdue, center, on Capitol Hill in 2015. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Vice presidential rumors have chased Georgia Sen. David Perdue for months, and the freshman Republican hasn’t exactly done much to dispel them.

When we asked him on Thursday about his interest in the No. 2 slot in a potential Donald Trump administration, Perdue said he was focused on his work in the Senate and seeing the presumptive Republican nominee through to the Oval Office. But he also wasn’t saying no:

“Well look, there are a lot of qualified people that can help him run the country,” Perdue said of Trump. “What I’ll hope he’ll do is find somebody that can help him run the country, not get elected. He can get elected on his own, quite frankly, if he just prosecutes the failures of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and talks about this moment of opportunity that I talked about. There are a lot of people who can help him do that. My role right now is as the outsider.”

Perdue continued: “I don’t have any ambition in that regard, and quite frankly my only focus right now is to help him get elected.”

Trump has kept quiet about his short list for a potential running mate, saying he won’t announce until July. But he’s also set some key parameters: someone with legislative and policy-making experience who can help him push his agenda through Capitol Hill.

Somebody that can walk into the Senate and who’s been friendly with these guys for 25 years, and people for 25 years. And can get things done. So I would 95 percent see myself picking a political person as opposed to somebody from the outside,” Trump told The Washington Post earlier this spring. 

Perdue is still pretty green on Capitol Hill, and his pre-Washington career in business tacks closer to Trump’s than your average lawmaker. In the same Washington Post interview, Trump said, “I don’t need to have another great businessman come in.”

But it’s been pretty hard to ignore Perdue’s full-throated embrace of Trump. He co-hosted a fundraiser for the presumptive nominee during Trump’s trip to Atlanta this week (Perdue ultimately had to miss the event due to Washington business) and memorably whipped out the billionaire’s signature “make America great again” hat during the Georgia GOP convention earlier this month.

When we pressed Perdue yesterday about whether he’s been vetted for the VP spot, he responded, “Honestly, I don’t know the answer.”

Here’s what he said when we asked if he would accept the gig if Trump offered:

“I’ll deal with anything when it comes up. But I have to tell you, I was sent to Washington not to become anything other than a United States senator and right now that’s my whole focus. And so my alignment is with the priorities I talked about: the debt, the economy, jobs, term limits, budget law … I don’t want to get distracted away from the whole mission that I have and that is to change the direction of our country.”