Nancy Mace Is a Hot Mess, Not VP Material
She’s jonesing for the job—but Trump’s not that desperate. Or dumb.
BEFORE REP. NANCY MACE ARRIVED at the “Team Trump” press conference she was hosting last Friday in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, local media knew she was going to trash her friend and supporter, former Palmetto State Governor Nikki Haley.
To build interest and attendance, Mace had previewed her attack in a press release, stating she would be “highlighting the repeated failures of Nikki Haley.”
At the event, Mace accused Haley of being the Chinese government’s “favorite governor” and said, “If she had her way, South Carolina would be manufacturing spy balloons right here in our state.”
It was a long way from the gratitude Mace expressed for Haley when Trump was attacking the congresswoman and supporting a primary challenger in 2022.
And it was trademark Mace, backstabbing and shameless, all geared toward burnishing her MAGA street cred and making sure Trump—who will beat Haley in the upcoming South Carolina primary badly anyway—knows she wants to be on the ticket with him. Mace may not actually be on his list of potential running mates, but she has told multiple Republicans, according to press accounts, that she considers herself in the mix.
Of course, the more Mace spreads the rumor, the more she gets asked about it. She said it was an “interesting” and “intriguing” idea when asked about it on The Daily Show in October, adding that “it’s a conversation we need to have because I want my little girl to know that she can be president one day.”
In many ways, Mace is a great fit for Trump. He digs an attractive, camera-ready woman with a big mouth. And “National Nancy,” which she instructed her staff to help brand her as with up to three TV appearances per day, has a lot in common with the former president. They’re both petty hypocrites who crave attention, and exhibitionists who delight in PR stunts.
But Mace isn’t going to make it onto a presidential ticket because she’s too much of a trainwreck. Even for Trump.
As the Daily Beast reported Monday, Mace is facing a staff exodus because she has fostered a “toxic” and demoralizing workplace environment. Within months she has fired her chief of staff, who is now considering challenging her in the primary, and many of her other aides have walked. Several of them told the Beast she’s “abusive” and “delusional.”
The Daily Mail recently reported that Mace openly discussed her sex life in her Capitol Hill office, according to aides who found it uncomfortable and inappropriate. Those allegations were unsurprising to anyone who remembered when she told a South Carolina prayer breakfast last year she had to rebuff sex with her fiancé that morning to make it to the event on time. Though that kind of talk may have recently quieted down since the twice-divorced Mace has broken up with her fiancé and is reportedly mired in a legal battle with him over a $1.3 million house in Washington, D.C., and a $3.9 million beachfront house back home.
Some of Mace’s aides recently shared with the Washington Post that Mace told staff during the January 6th attack that she wanted to confront the rioters so she could get punched in the face, and that video of her fighting with them “could give credence to her anti-Trump position.”
Last month, Mace barked at Hunter Biden in an Oversight Committee hearing, calling for his arrest, accusing him of being “the epitome of white privilege,” and telling him “you have no balls,” and, in the type of projection at which the Trumpist GOP excels, “This is just a PR stunt to you.”
Like Hunter Biden, Haley is a prop for Mace in her big show. Her betrayal of Haley was brazen and gratuitous—and just what her House colleagues and her staff have come to expect of her.
HALEY ENDORSED MACE when Trump endorsed a primary challenger for the seat Mace occupies in 2022. Mace had famously criticized Trump on her third day in the House, one day after the insurrection, saying his “entire legacy was wiped out yesterday.”
When Haley entered the presidential campaign last year, Mace was initially supportive of her former political ally, saying:
I wish that people could see how hard she works and how much she cares. Nikki was one of the only few elected officials that would return my phone call when I was primaried by the former president two years ago. It was a very lonely experience. We won resoundingly. And she was with us every step of the way. She’s become a good friend. I’m excited about her jumping into the race. I have not yet decided on an endorsement yet, but I’m very excited.
Her warm embrace and betrayal of Haley is part of a pattern, and is why many of her House Republican colleagues believe she helped depose former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in October solely for publicity and political advantage.
As the 2024 election gets closer, let us help you see around political corners. Join us by signing up for a free or paid subscription today:
When Rep. Matt Gaetz first attempted to stop McCarthy from winning the speakership in January 2023, Mace attacked him. She told Face the Nation, “Matt Gaetz is a fraud,” and told Vanity Fair, “Every time Gaetz voted against McCarthy, he sent out a fundraising email and fundraising texts and it bastardized the process.”
Just nine months later, Mace joined Gaetz in voting to remove McCarthy from his job, and she fundraised furiously off of it, rushing to Steve Bannon’s War Room podcast with Gaetz, and claiming the “establishment” was out to get her.
McCarthy’s allies were stunned that Mace joined the Crazy Eight Republicans who voted to boot McCarthy, and were outraged that she fundraised off of her vote. “It’s disgraceful,” Rep. Steve Womack told Politico.
In a November 2020 interview with Hugh Hewitt, just after winning her seat, Mace said McCarthy had invested heavily and early in her primary and she credited him with her victory. “I could not have done it without his support, and without his mentorship,” she said.
After she helped tank McCarthy, Hewitt tweeted the interview and commented “Ingratitude is common in the Beltway. Rarely is it so obvious and repulsive.”
Mace seemed to enjoy the backlash to her participation in McCarthy’s ouster, and used it to draw even more attention to herself. One week after the vote she donned a DIY tight white t-shirt emblazoned with a red “A” to a House Republican Conference meeting and told reporters she was wearing “the scarlet letter” in response to “being a woman up here, and being demonized for my vote and for my voice.”
She got through the whole thing without laughing.
But even before the speakership debacle, Mace liked to portray herself as under attack by fellow Republicans. She told the Washington Post last spring, “It’s important to have women that are strong and don’t put up with the bullshit,” referring to the way she was treated by her colleagues. “If you’re going to treat me in a certain way, then I’m going to punch you in the face. I’ll punch you right back. It’s not okay.”
FIGHTING BACK IS A THEME of Mace’s dramatic coming of age story.
A high school dropout and a survivor of sexual assault at age 14 and rape at age 16, Mace ended up becoming the first woman to graduate from The Citadel. (She’ll be giving the commencement address there in May.) Her biography—combined with her criticism of Trump, her victory in her 2022 race in spite of his backing her opponent, and then her unexpected push for Joe Biden’s impeachment—made Mace something of a political exotic. There was a dizzying two-year stretch of glowing coverage probing whether she was not ambivalent or chaotic, but cannily straddling two worlds by striving to appear rational to swing voters while simultaneously “conservative” enough for MAGA.
She was the subject of a lengthy New York Times profile last May where her “caucus of one” branding made it into the headline. The Times described her as a woman in a hurry who is “obsessed with her work and has huge ambitions.” She told them, “The message matters. I’m trying to move the national narrative.”
After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Mace appointed herself the party’s moderating voice on abortion. She advocates keeping the procedure legal until “15 or 20 weeks” and for exceptions after, and she has chastised Republicans for being “assholes to women.”
The problem is that she doesn’t really vote that way. The Washington Post reported:
She voted last year against a bill that would enshrine protections of Roe v. Wade into law; missed a vote on another bill that would reaffirm the right for someone seeking an abortion to travel across state lines; and over the summer, cast a vote in support of an amendment included in the National Defense Authorization Act to reverse the Biden administration’s policy on reimbursing travel costs for service members seeking abortions.
Consistency and credibility—in voting, policy positions, or professional relationships—don’t seem to matter to Mace. At least not compared to getting cable hits and being an It Girl.
For all her bluster and blunt talk, Mace is not trying to move a national narrative at all. While she could have been the kind of leader and role model we desperately need more of—a voice for survivors and other Americans who have been stigmatized or discriminated against; someone who crashed through a glass ceiling, made it to Congress, and told hard truths—she has instead worked consistently to prove she is an unserious person.
For example, last fall, when she was asked why, as a rape survivor, she hadn’t been bothered by allegations that Rep. Jim Jordan (whom she supported for speaker) had ignored allegations of sexual abuse against a colleague when he was an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State, she told Face the Nation, “I’m not familiar or aware of that.”
Mace knows how inconsistent Trump is thanks to his total commitment to calculated self-interest over any external principle, and she knows that he embraces people all the time who he has worked to destroy, that he savors their groveling. After all, she made the famous Trump Tower suckup video in 2022 as he campaigned against her and then spent 2023 raging about the “Biden crime family.” She hopes she has a chance at VP.
Plus, she thinks she has an in. The Daily Beast reported that Mace was talking up the idea to several Republicans back home because her former political strategist, Chris LaCivita, is now running Trump’s campaign. That report noted that “some Republicans credit LaCivita with helping Mace emerge as an unlikely defender of the former president in the depths of his legal quagmire,” and that “he put her name out there.” LaCivita is quoted in the story saying “any suggestion or rumor that I have been advocating for anyone as VP is complete horseshit. The pick of a vice presidential candidate is President Trump’s, and President Trump’s alone.”
No one is going to vouch for Mace for the job of vice president. Trump is trying to stay out of prison, so he won’t pick someone the voters will want to punch in the face.