Former President Donald Trump is ramping up his third bid for President, speaking in New Hampshire and South Carolina on Saturday. The two appearances are among Trump’s first bouts of campaigning since announcing he was running again on Nov. 15.
The former President, whose efforts to cling to power after losing the 2020 election culminated in a deadly attack on the Capitol, remains popular within the Republican Party but will undoubtedly face challengers for the GOP nomination. Many in his party blame Trump for the GOP’s less-than-stellar performance in the midterm elections, in which they lost the Senate and won the House by a slim majority. He also faces multiple legal woes, including a Department of Justice investigation into his handling of classified materials, and a criminal investigation in Georgia into his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
While no one else has announced yet, several party figures say they are seriously considering it, and others are drawing strong speculation. Here’s a rundown of 10 of the most prominent contenders.
Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida
DeSantis handily won reelection on Nov. 8, leading a winning GOP ticket that left Florida with no elected statewide Democrats for the first time since Reconstruction. With polls already measuring how he stacks up against Trump, many in his party consider DeSantis a strong contender for the Republican nomination. During a debate in October, DeSantis refused to commit to forgoing a presidential run during his next term as governor. DeSantis has made national headlines for opposing mask mandates and business closures while the pandemic raged, and flying roughly 50 Venezuelan asylum-seekers to Martha’s Vineyard under false pretenses. He’s also drawn national attention for signing measures restricting instruction and discussion of certain topics in schools, including one critics have derided as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Before becoming governor, DeSantis was a member of the House, where he co-founded the far-right Freedom Caucus.
Before the former Vice President served in Trump’s White House, he was Governor of Indiana and a three-term Representative in the U.S. House, where he chaired his party’s caucus and aligned himself with the Tea Party. In November, Pence released a memoir, So Help Me God, that in part was aimed at burnishing his longstanding ties to the party’s evangelical wing. Though he was Trump’s running-mate twice, he has broken with the former President at times, most notably when he declined to illegally overturn the 2020 election results on Jan. 6, 2021 (Trump then did little to intervene when rioters overtook the Capitol, with some chanting “Hang Mike Pence.” Pence has since described Trump’s actions that day as “reckless,” but has also said the Justice Department shouldn’t charge Trump over it.)
Pompeo has repeatedly said in recent months that he is considering a 2024 run, and this week, he released his first book, Never Give an Inch: Fighting for the America I Love. Pompeo saw his profile elevated considerably in 2017 when, during his fourth term as a member of the House representing Kansas, Trump tapped him to be the CIA Director, and then Secretary of State a year later. In both roles, the Trump loyalist emerged as an outspoken critic of China, a strong supporter of Israel, and an opponent of environmental protections. He has also made clear his contention that abortion should only be legal when the mother’s life is in danger, and in 2020, helped create the anti-abortion Geneva Consensus Declaration, which was signed by dozens of countries.
The former ambassador to the United Nations under Trump has strongly hinted that she is preparing a 2024 run. Even before joining the Trump administration, Haley was a rising GOP star, becoming the first Indian-American woman to be elected Governor in the country, leading South Carolina for six years and drawing high approval ratings. More recently, she made the rounds supporting Republican candidates during the midterms. Yet her history with Trump has complicated her status in the GOP. In the aftermath of the Jan. 6 attack, she gave a scathing assessment of the former President, before later backtracking. In 2021, she said she wouldn’t run in 2024 if Trump was a candidate.
Gov. Kristi Noem of South Dakota
Noem has long drawn speculation as a potential presidential candidate or running mate, Within the past month, the Trump-backed governor has attracted national attention for threatening to prosecute pharmacists that make abortion pills available within FDA guidelines, effectively blocking her state government from making contracts with China, and receiving a flamethrower as a Christmas gift from her staff. “I’m not convinced that I need to run for President, but I also believe that this country needs somebody to lead us that has a vision,” she told CBS News last week.
Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina
Scott won re-election last year by a decisive 26-point margin, and he hinted at a potential 2024 run in his victory speech. When he joined the Senate in 2013 (an appointment by then-Governor Nikki Haley), he became the first and only Black politician to serve in both chambers of Congress. He has drawn raves among GOP establishment figures like Mitch McConnell, while thus far not alienating himself from the Trump wing of the party.
Gov. Glenn Youngkin of Virginia
Youngkin entered the national political stage in 2021 upon winning a special election for Governor against the Democratic incumbent, Terry McAuliffe, with a campaign that some viewed as a potential blueprint for how Republicans can distance themselves from Trump without outright rejecting him. Youngkin, a former private equity CEO, has framed himself as a unifier of different GOP factions, campaigning on a message of bipartisanship and eventually came out against Trump’s stolen election claims. On prominent social issues, Youngkin hasn’t been afraid to take staunchly conservative stances, particularly related to schools, where he banned mask mandates and any teaching of critical race theory lessons soon after taking office.
Read more: The Education of Glenn Youngkin
Governor Chris Sununu of New Hampshire
Many within the GOP wanted Sununu to make a bid for the Senate last year. He surprised them by instead running for a fourth gubernatorial term, winning re-election by 15 points. Sununu is an outspoken Trump critic, complicating his path forward in the party, but his popularity within the first-in-the-nation primary state makes him harder to dismiss. He has given mixed responses to whether he might run for President in 2024.
Hutchison stepped down as Arkansas Governor this month after eight years at the job. He earlier represented the state in the House and served in the George W. Bush administration as the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration and an undersecretary in the Department of Homeland Security. He has long been critical of Trump, saying that the Jan. 6 attack, among other behavior, should disqualify the former President from another term in the minds of voters. He told NBC News on Wednesday he was “absolutely” considering a 2024 Republican presidential bid.
Senator Ted Cruz of Texas
Cruz finished second behind Trump in the 2016 Republican primary, a race that ended bitterly, with Cruz famously refusing to endorse Trump during the Republican National Convention, only to then do so weeks later. Cruz has made clear he is not ruling out another run in 2024. In the nearly ten years he has been Senator, and during his time as the Solicitor General of Texas before that, he has framed himself as a staunch constitutional conservative. The former Trump rival notably supported the false notion that the 2020 Presidential election was stolen, and as recently as October refused to acknowledge that President Joe Biden was legitimately elected.
Various other names have been bandied about, including former Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, and John Bolton, Trump’s former national security adviser.
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