Immediately following President Trump’s unsuccessful 2020 re-election campaign, talking heads from across the political spectrum pontificated that the Republican Party was headed into a period of mourning, that Congressional Republicans and GOP candidates would keep the former President at arm’s length, and that Republicans would abandon Trump outright. One year into President Biden’s term, the pundits have been proven wrong once again.
The race for 2024 has already begun, with Trump holding his first post-election campaign-style rally in Des Moines, Iowa on October 9, 2021. “We’re going to take America back,” Trump said during the nearly 90-minute rally at the first-in-the-nation caucuses state. Trump even teased a 2024 campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again, Again,” he told the crowd.
For those looking for more concrete signals that Donald Trump has plans to at least explore a 2024 presidential campaign, here are two important clues. First, Trump set up a new political action committee (PAC) called “Save America,” has transferred millions of dollars from his re-election PAC to it, and is sitting on a war chest of over $108 million as of January 31, 2022, according to the most recent filing with the Federal Election Commission (FEC). Second, Trump’s Save America PAC has hired two seasoned GOP operatives from Iowa, all but setting the stage for him should he seek a comeback.
Those steps, combined with Trump’s fundraising prowess, holding large political rallies, and his endorsements in key races across the U.S. leave no doubt that he is the political frontrunner for the GOP nomination in 2024, a line echoed by even other potential contenders. “It’s still a long way down the road, but if Donald Trump decides to run in 2024 again, he’s going to be the Republican nominee, and I think almost everyone that I’ve talked to would agree with that,” former 2020 presidential candidate and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), said recently.
But who could seriously challenge Trump in 2024? Let’s take a look at the people making moves and what recent polling suggests.
Could Rubio, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), or Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) launch a serious challenge to former President Trump? Rubio has taken himself out of the running, or so he says. While Hawley has traveled to Iowa, polling has held him at or below 2%. Cruz, who recently signaled he “absolutely” would run for president again. It is believed that he would in fact run again, “if Trump doesn’t” a person close to Sen. Cruz told NBC News. Senator Cruz made it deep into the primary fight in 2016.
Then there are the governors, like Texas’ Greg Abbott, North Dakota’s Kristi Noem, and Florida’s Ron DeSantis. All three are up in 2022, and without succeeding in their re-elections this year, a presidential run may be unlikely. But all are still considered contenders, especially rockstar Governor Desantis.
How about former Ambassador to the U.N. and South Carolina Governor Nikki Halley? Then there are former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence. All three served in the Trump Administration. While Halley has had an on-and-off relationship with Trump, she could be a challenger. Pompeo is rumored to run should Trump decide not to, having traveled to Israel last year and Iowa three times so far. Meanwhile, Mike Pence is increasingly sounding like he is running for president in 2024 and would do so even if Trump also declared. Speaking to the Federalist Society last month, Vice President Pence stated “President Trump is wrong…I had no right to overturn the election,” and in so doing, he seems to be creating an anti-Trump lane in the race for the Republican nomination, albeit with significant pushback.
As was mentioned, the biggest potential challenger to a Donald Trump presidential campaign in 2024 could be Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who may not have won the governorship without Trump’s endorsement. According to the straw poll conducted at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, FL, Trump carried 59% of attendees, with DeSantis second with 28% and everyone else at 2% or less. Without Trump on the ballot, DeSantis claimed 61% of CPAC attendees.
This trend seems to be corroborated by a December 13-17 Reuters/Ipsos poll that found Trump at the top of the Republican ticket with 54%, followed by DeSantis with 11%, and Pence with 8%. The same poll held Halley in fourth place with 4% followed by Cruz at 3%, and others at 2% or less.
This year’s 2022 midterms will be a major litmus test for the Governors, and the results may influence Donald Trump’s decision, which is when he hinted he would make an official announcement. At this point, the nomination is clearly Trump’s to lose. Do you see any contenders to Trump in 2024? Let us know in the comments below.
Bob Carlstrom is President of AMAC Action