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The Epoch Times
The Epoch Times
11 Feb 2023

NextImg:These Republicans May Be Angling to Run for President in 2024

News Analysis

With November 2024 more than a year and a half away, Republicans are quietly positioning themselves for the presidential primary season.

It’s a delicate dance, now that former President Donald Trump has entered contention.

To many GOP voters, challengers from within the party still look like betrayers, particularly if they talked up their loyalty to the former commander-in-chief while he was in charge.

Many top Republican donors and politicians, meanwhile, seem ready to dump Trump, particularly after an underwhelming 2022 midterm performance that some blame on the former president’s influence on candidate selection.

Yet, in a Feb. 2 appearance on Hugh Hewitt’s radio program, Trump himself, no stranger to cutthroat competition, mused on the tough realities faced by all those who seek high office.

“I know how life works. And I know how politics works. And politics is a microcosm, but even more vicious, of life,” Trump said.

With that in mind, here are the major Republicans who may be angling to run. Whether this primary season will be nasty, brutish, and short remains to be seen. After all, it could drag on for a while.

Former President Donald Trump speaks at the New Hampshire Republican State Committee’s annual meeting in Salem, N.H., on Jan. 28, 2023. (Scott Eisen/Getty Images)

The man himself announced his candidacy on Nov. 15, 2022, at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida.

“The Washington establishment wants to silence us, but we will not let them do that. What we have built together over the past six years is the greatest movement in history because it is not about politics. It’s about our love for this great country, America, and we’re not going to let it fail,” Trump said at the time.

His Save America Political Action Committee (PAC) raised more than $100 million during the 2022 cycle. A new Trump-affiliated Super PAC, Make America Great Again Inc., raised more than $70 million during that same cycle, including through money transferred from Save America PAC.

Save America had just over $18 million in cash on hand at the end of 2022. Meanwhile, Donald J. Trump for President 2024 ended the year with a little more than $3 million cash on hand, according to a Federal Election Commission filing.

His recent fundraising, widely reported as an under-performance in the legacy media, may have opened up more space for challengers on Trump’s flank.

For now, though, many polls indicate Trump holds a comfortable lead over his top rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, even in head-to-head matchups.

A recent Monmouth University poll shows DeSantis leading Trump in such a contest—yet Trump’s performance against the Florida governor has actually improved in Monmouth polling over recent months.

One Emerson College poll from January found that Trump strongly leads DeSantis and other possible Republican contenders among GOP primary voters. The same survey also shows Trump beating President Joe Biden in the general election.

Trump held events in South Carolina and New Hampshire, two key early primary states, at the end of January.

The former president’s supporters remain confident he will stand strong against his competitors in the GOP.

“If you drive around NH [New Hampshire], you see not 1 or 2, not 10 or 20, but hundreds if not thousands of Trump flags, Trump signs, all over … I don’t see any DeSantis signs, I don’t see any Nikki Haley signs,” said Stephen Stepanek, the leader of Trump’s campaign in New Hampshire, in an exclusive interview with The Epoch Times.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at the Republican Jewish Coalition Annual Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas, Nev., on Nov. 19, 2022. (Wade Vandervort/AFP via Getty Images)

DeSantis has not formally announced a 2024 candidacy.

Yet, the governor’s emergence as a polarizing national figure with a reputation for effective conservative governance has helped make him a possible rival, or successor, to former President Trump.

PACs such as “Ready for Ron” have sprung up, though some in DeSantis’s camp have reportedly cautioned against supporting such groups.

Meanwhile, DeSantis’s own state-level PAC, “Friends of Ron DeSantis,” has raised more than $212 million since being established in 2018, according to Florida elections data.

DeSantis’s big-money donors include Citadel CEO Ken Griffin. In November 2022, shortly after the midterms, Griffin called Trump a “three-time loser” while affirming his support for a DeSantis presidential bid.

That came just days after the former president publicly mocked DeSantis at a rally, labeling him “Ron DeSanctimonious.”

As noted above, DeSantis isn’t significantly underperforming Trump in opinion polling, and has even bested him in some head-to-head polls.

Meanwhile, DeSantis continues to get mostly laudatory press in conservative media and from former Trump allies who have soured on the real estate mogul.

Then Republican vice-presidential candidate Indiana Gov. Mike Pence speaks to supporters at a rally in Chesterfield, Mo., on Sept. 6, 2016. (Gino Santa Maria/Shutterstock)

Trump’s one-time running mate, Mike Pence, is another recurring name when 2024 comes up.

Advancing American Freedom, a nonprofit founded by Pence, will run ads and a broader outreach effort across Iowa, a key early state during the presidential primary and caucus season.

The campaign will focus on transgender policies in schools.

“Advancing American Freedom will not rest until parental rights are restored in Iowa and across the nation,” Pence said, as reported by the Associated Press.

In a January CBS News interview, he remained tactically non-committal about a potential presidential run.

“In the months ahead, I’m just going to be listening to the American people,” he said.

Pence, like Trump and Biden, has been the focus of a federal law enforcement investigation into his retention of classified documents.

The Emerson College poll mentioned above shows Pence polling at 6 percent support among likely GOP primary and caucus voters.

Former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley speaks to guests at the Republican Jewish Coalition Annual Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas, Nev., on Nov. 19, 2022. (Scott OlsonGetty Images)

Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina who served as Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, is expected to announce her presidential run on Feb. 15 in Charleston, South Carolina.

She will then embark on a tour of New Hampshire and Iowa.

Haley will speak at town hall events in Exeter and Manchester in New Hampshire on Feb. 15 and Feb. 17, respectively, the latter at Saint Anselm University’s New Hampshire Institute of Politics.

The Iowa leg of her trip will take her to a town hall event in Urbandale, outside Des Moines, where she will speak on Feb. 20. Haley will then travel to speak at a similar event in Marion, near Cedar Rapids, the following day.

Haley said in April 2021 that she “would not run if President Trump ran”—a claim the former president brought up in a recent Truth Social post.

“Nikki has to follow her heart, not her honor. She should definitely run!” Trump wrote.

Haley polled at 3 percent in the above-mentioned Emerson College poll.

“I’ve never lost a race. I said that then I still say that now. I’m not going to lose now,” Haley told Fox News in January, before news of her still-upcoming official announcement leaked.

She also addressed her 2021 comment about not running if Trump announced:

“It’s bigger than one person. And when you’re looking at the future of America, I think it’s time for new generational change. I don’t think you need to be 80 years old to go be a leader in D.C. I think we need a young generation to come in, step up, and really start fixing things.”

Another politico from the Palmetto State, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), is also gearing up for a national tour, though he has neither leaked nor formally announced a run for the presidency.

He’s launching a “Faith in America” national listening tour, starting with a Black History Month speech on Feb. 16 in South Carolina.

Scott will be in Iowa on Feb. 22.

He will speak in Des Moines, addressing the topic of faith in America, before delivering remarks at the Polk County Republican Party Lincoln Dinner, as confirmed to The Epoch Times by Polk County Republican Chair Gloria Mazza.

His time in Iowa will be preceded by an ad campaign in the state.

Axios reported Feb. 10 that Scott has made key hires for his Super PAC, Opportunity Matters Fund Action.

Scott’s response to Biden’s recent State of the Union speech may hint at executive aspirations.

“We are the greatest nation on earth. We have a long way to go, but with the right leadership, America always pushes ahead,” Scott said.

Pompeo, who led the CIA and later the State Department under Trump, has also publicly mulled a 2024 run.

He addressed the topic in an interview coinciding with the release of his new book, “Never Give an Inch: Fighting for the America I Love.”

In a Jan. 24 interview with “CBS Mornings,” he said that he would decide whether or not to run “in the next handful of months.”

Pompeo has a Super PAC as well, Champion American Values PAC (CAVPAC).

Other possible 2024 candidates include Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas); former House Speaker Paul Ryan; New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu; former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan; Texas Gov. Greg Abbott; Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin; and even former Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), a favorite of “Never Trump” Republicans because of her participation in the Jan. 6 Committee hearings.

Cheney has said she will leave the Republican Party should they nominate Trump in 2024.

Trump, meanwhile, told Hewitt on Feb. 3 he would not pledge to support the GOP’s eventual 2024 nominee.