“On the Holmes Front,” with Frank Holmes
Republicans running for president play a familiar game.
If you ask them directly, you’ll always get the same answer: “I’m focused on what I’m doing now, and on winning the upcoming elections”… but there are a few things you can spot behind the scenes to decide who’s planning to throw their hat in the presidential ring next year.
What are the signs? They go on TV every chance they get to stay relevant on the issues of the day.
They hold speaking tours and headline county Republican Party dinners in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina.
But some moves are less visible: Privately, they jet into big cities to hobnob with donors, in order to fill their campaign chest.
And deep behind the scenes, they hire consultants, advisers, and campaign staff to make sure they have enough resources on hand when they decide it’s time to reluctantly give the American people what they want.
This last behind-the-scenes move begins when candidates form their own political action committees (PACs), super PACs, or other outside groups—and start buying ads, collecting e-mail addresses, and asking D.C. insiders how to “reach” the people on their lists.
“Anyone who’s serious about running for president in 2024 has already begun building a campaign behind the scenes, and the foundation of a good campaign is a big database of supporters. You can’t wait until you launch your campaign to build an online donor base,” said one consultant, who worked on Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential bid.
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When it comes to the next presidential race, there’s no time to waste—and the candidates aren’t wasting a second. Let’s peek behind the scenes at that last action—building supporters online—because big moves are underway that show us who’s in and who’s out in 2024.
“A half-dozen potential GOP candidates, most of whom won’t be on the ballot in 2022, still spent more than $1.4 million each on email list rentals, digital consulting, and online fundraising in 2021,” reported Politico.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., is out front. His campaign committee dropped an enormous $13.6 million, including at least $3.3 million on digital outreach, during 2021. Technically, all this is geared to Cruz’s reelection to the Senate… but he isn’t up for reelection for two more years. And he’s a Republican in Texas.
In the meantime, Cruz has also lined up a speaking tour in early presidential battleground states, like Iowa, which he won in 2016.
Next in line is former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, who has spent at least $2.4 million. She’s also stepped up her appearances on TV, telling Vice President Kamala Harris she’s so embarrassing she should “resign.” She’s an interesting outlier because Haley was a NeverTrumper who said Donald Trump is “everything a governor doesn’t want in a president.” She definitely hasn’t given up her dream of being the first female president…and she’s put her money where her mind is: on the presidential race.
After Haley comes Sen. Cruz’s more populist colleague, Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri. His campaign has spent $1.7 million in an online effort to enhance his name recognition. Hawley, the Midwesterner, is a plain-spoken, tough-talking man of the people who plans to win part of the 2024 party by taking on Big Tech and the cultural elites.
A name that often surprises people is former Trump administration Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has spent $1.4 million online. Pompeo has had a fast rise; he’s got foreign policy experience, which every president needs; and he comes across as likable. He’s also put his mouth where his mind is: Pompeo has lost 90 pounds in six months.
Of course, the biggest spending comes from the candidate with the deepest pockets: President Donald Trump’s Save America political operation spent $6.4 million on digital campaigning, including $2.8 million in internet ads, last year. Trump has all but declared he’s running for president a third time; he’s even said the only reason he can’t announce is a technicality in campaign finance law.
But if Trump’s money says anything, it says he want to make America great again, again.
“Forming these outside groups or super PACs, and using them as a vehicle for online list building, is the new exploratory committee,” one consultant told Politico. But it’s not a guarantee the person will actually run.
Their ads might bomb. They might get negative feedback and decide they can’t possibly win the 2024 primaries. They might want to have enough national power to wring concessions out of the eventual nominee. Or they might just want to raise money for increasingly expensive political races in the states.
But if you had to judge who’s a candidate, there’s hardly a better way than seeing how they spend their money. Candidates will lie about their plans, lie about their platform, lie about just about everything under the sun—but they won’t lie to their wallet.
Based on that, the 2024 presidential campaign is already heating up.
Frank Holmes is a veteran journalist and an outspoken conservative that talks about the news that was in his weekly article, “On The Holmes Front.”