Don’t look now, but the race for 2024 is already underway.
None of the potential Republican contenders are advertising it yet.
They’re all waiting to see if former President Donald Trump decides for a rematch against President Joe Biden, who has already said he’s planning to seek reelection.
Trump entering the race would likely clear the field of many top names.
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But those same figures are also quietly getting their supporters in alignment, raising funds, and doing the legwork expected of potential presidential candidates.
That involves more than the usual trips to Iowa and New Hampshire.
It means a visit to West Palm Beach, where Trump holds court at his Mar-a-Lago club and is expected to play the role of kingmaker if he chooses not to run again.
FIVE LEADING GOP CONTENDERS FOR 2024
MIKE PENCE: Trump’s vice president has been busily hitting the road, giving speeches, and raising money – all the things a potential presidential contender does at this point in the race.
While polls show him consistently at or near the top of a crowded field, he and Trump had a falling out over the 2020 election results.
He’s unlikely to win Trump’s endorsement, which could ultimately doom him with the former president’s loyal voters.
RON DESANTIS: Polls show the Florida governor is essentially tied with Pence in a GOP race without Trump (and if Trump does run again, DeSantis is often mentioned as a potential running mate).
He’s positioned himself as a national figure with his much more relaxed approach to the coronavirus pandemic than many other governors. And has kept in close contact with his state’s most famous resident with visits to Mar-a-Lago.
But he has one hurdle: He is facing an election of his own in anything-goes Florida in 2022. If he loses his home state, he’ll be a much tougher sell for Republican primary voters in 2024.
TED CRUZ: The Texas senator has made no secret of his presidential ambitions. He was the last major holdout in 2016 when Trump steamrolled through the competition on his way to the nomination.
Cruz infamously didn’t endorse Trump at the Republican National Convention that year and was booed for it. He quickly reversed course, and during the Trump presidency became one of his closest allies in the Senate.
In one recent poll of 2024 contenders with Trump not running, Cruz came in second — behind only DeSantis. Politico also reports that Cruz has amassed a $5.6 million war chest on strong recent fundraising.
NIKKI HALEY: The former South Carolina governor was awarded a prime speaking spot at least year’s Republican National Convention, but then tried to have it both ways with Trump.
At first, she called him out for the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.
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“He let us down,” she told Politico in February. “He went down a path he shouldn’t have, and we shouldn’t have followed him, and we shouldn’t have listened to him. And we can’t let that ever happen again.”
But like Cruz, she also knows she won’t get very far without Trump or his supporters on board, so she’s since reversed course and insisted that she’s behind him… and would remain behind him if he ran again.
TIM SCOTT: Like Haley, Scott was given a prime speaking slot at last year’s Republican National Convention, where he painted a picture of an America as a land of limitless opportunity for all people, regardless of racial background or ethnicity.
Then, in April, he repeated the feat when he delivered the Republican response to President Joe Biden’s speech to Congress.
“I think it was the single best rebuttal speech that’s been delivered since the practice began,” John Podhoretz, speechwriter to presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, gushed to NH Journal.
And that’s generating plenty of 2024 buzz for the senator.
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, and a long list of senators – Marco Rubio, Tom Cotton, Rick Scott, to name a few – could also join the race.
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Then there are potential dark horse candidates. The names bandied about include Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and even Fox News host Tucker Carlson.
By the end of Trump’s first year in office in 2017, two candidates had already declared for the 2020 race… so the first signs of movement for 2024 could happen sooner than anyone thinks.
— Walter W. Murray is a reporter for The Horn News. He is an outspoken conservative and a survival expert.