Five GOP contenders — other than Trump — for 2024
President Trump casts a long shadow over the Republican Party even as his attempts to cling to power look doomed to failure.
Trump could run again in 2024. If he does, it is hard to see anyone beating him for the Republican nomination.
Although Trump lost the presidential election by around 7 million votes, he is by far the most popular figure in the nation with GOP voters. He has enormous fundraising prowess — he raised about $170 million in the month after the election — and he can drive media attention like no one else.
Still, Trump will be 78 by the time of the next election. He also faces financial pressures, with large debts coming due in the next few years. He will continue to command headlines but there are solid reasons why he may not run for the presidency again.
There is speculative chatter that one of Trump’s children, perhaps his elder daughter Ivanka, could enter the political arena. But here are some other front-line contenders for the GOP nomination in 2024.
Haley was the incumbent governor of South Carolina when Trump chose her to become the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations at the start of his term. She served in the position for almost two years.
It’s easy to make the case for Haley: Her role in the Trump administration aligns her with the president and gives her some good will with his supporters. At the same time, she has other assets that could appeal to the kind of well-educated suburbanites who turned against Trump with decisive effect in November.
She is cut from more conventional ideological cloth than the president, as a mainstream, pro-business Republican. Haley has also always been a subject of media fascination, in part because she was both the first woman and the first person of color to serve as South Carolina’s governor. Her parents are immigrants from India’s Punjab.
Haley was also governor during the time of the 2015 Charleston massacre, in which nine congregants of a historic Black church were murdered by a white supremacist gunman. Haley supported the removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina capitol in the aftermath.
Haley has her detractors. Some in Trump’s orbit have always eyed her warily. She had first backed Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and later Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in the 2016 GOP primary. Others in the bare-knuckle world of South Carolina politics have charged she has more style than substance.
Still, if Haley runs, she will be instantly seen as a top-flight contender.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas)
Cruz was the runner-up to Trump in 2016, and few doubt that he could take a second crack at the top prize.
The 2016 race descended into a barrage of insults between the two men. Trump insulted Cruz’s wife and insinuated that his father had somehow been involved in the assassination of President Kennedy.
Cruz called Trump “utterly amoral,” “a pathological liar” and “a sniveling coward,” among other things. Cruz also famously declined to endorse Trump at the 2016 GOP convention.
Since then, however, Cruz has transformed himself into a vigorous supporter of the president — including on Twitter, where the Texas senator has a particularly combative persona.
A Cruz 2024 bid would be built on the same pillars as his initial run, with support from social conservatives being vital. Many conservatives were always skeptical about whether Trump really had a firm ideological foundation. No such doubts exist with Cruz.
Cruz critics often say that he lacks likability, and he was run close by then-Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) in his 2018 Senate reelection race. But he would be a formidable challenger for his party’s nomination.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.)
Hawley has already declared that he would support Trump in 2024 if the president runs again.
If Trump takes a pass, however, many in the GOP see Hawley as well-placed to take his populist mantle.
Hawley favored a more expansive relief program for workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. He is broadly supportive of Trump’s protectionist trade policies. He has also taken repeated shots at tech corporations, which in his view wield excessive power.
The Missouri senator is staunchly conservative on a number of other issues, including immigration and abortion.
Hawley is also marked out by his youth. At 40, he is the youngest member of the Senate.
Critics roll their eyes at Hawley’s populist proclamations.
Kevin McDermott, a columnist with the The St Louis Post-Dispatch, recently complained that “no one does populist fake outrage like this self-styled enemy of ‘the elite’ who holds degrees from Stanford and Yale.”
Still, if the GOP is looking for a message of Trump-like populism carried by a more affable messenger, the party could well turn to Hawley.
Vice President Pence
Pence served loyally by Trump’s side for four years only for the president to reportedly grow irritated by what he considered insufficient support for his attempts to overturn the election result.
On Dec. 23, Trump even went so far as to retweet a suggestion that Pence should somehow refuse to accept electoral votes from several crucial states.
Virtually no one expects Pence to accede to the implied request but it highlights the complicated position for the vice president as he looks toward 2024.
On one hand, he would be a big-name candidate because of the position he now holds. On the other, his personal demeanor and political style is far removed from Trump’s.
Pence would likely find himself vying with rivals such as Cruz for the votes of social conservatives. Other senior members of the Trump administration may also seek the nomination — Haley and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are both widely assumed to be interested.
It’s plausible Pence could win, and the GOP, pre-Trump, had a tendency to bestow its nomination on the person considered “next in line.” But it is equally plausible he could be outflanked by more charismatic contenders.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.)
Cotton, like Cruz and Hawley, is located firmly on the conservative wing of the party. In a GOP primary, that is clearly a good thing.
He’s about to begin his second term as a senator, having easily vanquished a Libertarian opponent in November. No serious Democrat even bothered contesting the seat.
During the final days of this year’s election campaign, The Associated Press noted Cotton’s expansive efforts to help GOP candidates in other states, including the early primary battlegrounds of Iowa and New Hampshire.
“His schedule has all the hallmarks of someone focused on the White House in 2024,” the AP noted.
Cotton is an Army veteran, having served in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He ticks conservative boxes on almost all major issues, including abortion and immigration.
His views on race have stoked controversy, however. A furor followed the publication of a New York Times op-ed he wrote in June, amid protests over the killing of George Floyd, headlined “Send in the Troops.” In it, Cotton called for “an overwhelming show of force to disperse, detain and ultimately deter lawbreakers.”
As with Cruz, there are real questions over Cotton’s likability beyond the conservative base.
Other potential candidates: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, Fox News host Tucker Carlson, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), Sen. Rick Scott (Fla.), Ivanka Trump.
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