President Donald Trump is reportedly ready to declare his candidacy to run again in 2024.
But is the Republican Party ready to move on?
GOP Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel has been a staunch Trump ally in public, and has his support as she seeks a third term running the party apparatus.
But one of her recent moves is raising eyebrows throughout Washington.
McDaniel is compiling the guestlist for the Republican National Committee’s first big meeting of 2021, set to take place just two weeks before Trump would leave the White House.
And McDaniel is giving the other 2024 hopefuls prime speaking roles at the Amelia Island event, according to Politico.
Multiple news agencies report that McDaniel invited South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott and former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley, both of whom spoke on behalf of Trump at the Republican National Convention but are widely mentioned as top contenders for the next election.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem and Vice President Mike Pence will also be there, according to Politico, as well as GOP senators Tom Cotton (Arkansas), Ted Cruz (Texas), Josh Hawley (Missouri) and three members of the Florida contingent: Gov. Ron DeSantis and senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott.
All of them are believed to hold much higher aspirations.
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Trump was invited, but it’s not yet clear if he will attend.
GOP insiders say the move is an attempt by McDaniel to show that the party itself remains neutral ground for all its potential candidates.
“The RNC has to be neutral and I think by inviting a lot of potential 2024 presidential candidates to our meeting in January signals that the party will continue to be neutral,” longtime RNC committee member Henry Barbour told Fox News.
That’s not the only way the possible 2024 candidates are trying to raise their profiles.
Several GOP senators who are in the mix are going to Georgia to rally for the double Senate elections there, including Scott, Rubio, Cotton, and Pence.
But if Trump declares his 2024 candidacy, many may limit their future activities out of deference not just to the president but his still very loyal base of supporters.
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In other words, don’t expect the usual rush to Iowa and New Hampshire that presidential hopefuls typically make very early in the cycle.
That, in turn, could lead to problems with fundraising and other key parts of the nominating process.
However, some within the party seem ready to write Trump’s political epitaph and move on to this new field of party hopefuls and the younger generation of political talent.
“Whether he likes it or not, the Trump ice cube is melting,” Dan Eberhart, a prominent GOP donor and bundler, told Fox News. “He can announce a 2024 bid but the enthusiasm with donors is likely to fund the coffers of people like Cotton, Haley, Hawley, or DeSantis to do battle with Trump.”
Polls tell a different story: Republican voters want more Trump.
A Politico/Morning Consult poll finds 53 percent of Republicans would support the president in a theoretical 2024 primary.
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No one else comes close.
Pence is in a distant second place with 12 percent, while Donald Trump Jr. is in third at 8 percent.
Publicly, the president has insisted he won the 2020 election and is planning to remain in the White House as a result.
Privately, he’s reportedly already looking ahead.
“It’s been an amazing four years,” Trump said at the White House Christmas party, according to CNN. “We are trying to do another four years. Otherwise, I’ll see you in four years.”