Less than three months after former President Donald Trump left the White House, the race to succeed him atop the Republican Party is already beginning.Trump’s former secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, has launched an aggressive schedule, visiting states which will play a pivotal role within the 2024 primaries, and he has signed a contract with Fox News Channel. Mike Pence, Trump’s former vice chairman , has started a political advocacy group, finalized a book deal and later this month will give his first speech since leaving office in South Carolina. And Florida Gov.
Ron DeSantis has been courting donors, including in Trump’s backyard, with a prominent speaking slot before the previous president at a GOP fundraising retreat dinner this month at Mar-a-Lago, the Florida resort where Trump now lives.
Trump ended his presidency with such a firm grip on Republican voters that party leaders fretted he would freeze the sector of potential 2024 candidates, delaying preparations as he teased another run. Instead, many Republicans with national ambitions are openly laying the groundwork for campaigns as Trump continues to mull his own plans.
They’re raising money, making hires and dealing to bolster their name recognition. The moves reflect both the fervor within the party to reclaim the White House and therefore the reality that mounting a contemporary presidential campaign may be a yearslong endeavor.“You build the ark before it rains,” said Michael Steel, a Republican strategist who worked for Jeb Bush’s presidential 2016 campaign, among others. “They’re getting to do the items they have to try to to if he decides to not run.”
Trump, a minimum of for now, is giving them many leeway, convinced they pose little threat to his own ambitions.“It’s a free country. Folks can do what they need ,” Trump adviser Jason Miller said in response to the moves. “But,” he added, “if President Trump does plan to run in 2024, the nomination are going to be his if you’re paying any attention to public polling of Republican voters.”
Polling does indeed show that Trump remains a commanding figure among GOP voters, despite his loss in November to Democrat Joe Biden. Republican leaders, including those that may hope to someday succeed him, are careful to tend to his ego and explain they need no plans to challenge his standing.
Florida Sen. Rick Scott, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, last weekend awarded Trump a replacement “Champion for Freedom Award,” which the group publicized — complete with a photograph of a smiling, golf-attired Trump holding alittle , gleaming cup — even after the previous president went after Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky during a profanity-laden speech.
A day later, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, considered a top-tier 2024 candidate, told The Associated Press that she is going to sit out the race if Trump runs again.“I wouldn't run if President Trump ran, and that i would ask him about it,” she said in Orangeburg, South Carolina. “That’s something that we’ll have a conversation about at some point, if that call are some things that has got to be made.”
The deference is, in part, an acknowledgement of Trump’s continued power. Even out of office and without his Twitter megaphone, Trump remains deeply fashionable the GOP base and is bolstered by an $85 million fund which will be shared with endorsed candidates, spent on advertising and wont to fund travel and buy polling and consultants.
Trump is planning to soon increase his visibility, with aides discussing options to carry rallies as soon as late spring or summer. “There’s a reasonably strong demand out there to urge President Trump on the road,” Miller said.
Many Republicans acknowledge Trump would leap to the front of the pack if he chooses to mount a bid to become the sole president aside from Cleveland to serve two nonconsecutive terms. Still, there's deep skepticism in many corners of the party that Trump will run again.
While people on the brink of him insist he's serious, many see Trump’s continued flirtations as a way to take care of relevance as he has settled into a cushty post-White House life. At Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach , he’s courted by candidates and met by rounds of applause and standing ovations whenever he enters the dining room.
In the meantime, other could-be-candidates are making moves, whilst many of their aides insist their focus is squarely on next year’s congressional elections and helping Republicans get back control of the House and Senate.
Jeff Kaufmann, the chair of the Iowa Republican Party , said the activity in his state has begun even earlier this year than within the past two election cycles, with every candidate on his potential 2024 list having already visited or thinking of visiting the primary state on the GOP nominating calendar.
“I know of nobody — honestly nobody — that's hesitating to return out,” he said. “Now some are a touch more subtle than others, but which will not necessarily be tied to Donald Trump. which will be just tied into their campaign style and not eager to get too far before their skis until they see if they need any traction whatsoever.”
Pompeo, arguably the foremost aggressive so far , is among those that have already hung out in Iowa, also as New Hampshire, and in the week past he addressed Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s World Values Network in ny , where he was introduced by video by Republican megadonor Miriam Adelson. And on Saturday, he headlined the Palm Beach County Republican Party’s annual Lincoln Day dinner at Mar-a-Lago along side Scott and DeSantis.
DeSantis, who is up for reelection next year, recently hired a top Republican strategist who served as executive of the Republican Governors Association. DeSantis also has been using the race to create a deep fundraising network that would support him if he chooses to run nationally.
The party, which for a time seemed to be paralyzed by division, has grown more united in its opposition to Biden, whilst Trump continues to spar with McConnell and works to defeat incumbents who voted for his impeachment. Republicans in Congress have found common cause railing against Biden’s border policies, voting against his COVID-19 relief bill and pushing for brand spanking new restrictions on voting, while railing against corporate interference within the voting rights debate.
“I think you'd find broad agreement in our party that we'd like to be having the talk about policy,” said Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyoming, the No. 3 House Republican, who continues to face enormous backlash after voting for Trump’s impeachment. “We got to be talking about policy,” she said while chatting with Georgetown University’s Institute of Politics and Public Service last week.
Regardless of Trump’s ultimate decision, his critics and acolytes alike say they see the longer term of the party as hooked in to maintaining their appeal to Trump voters, while at an equivalent time winning back the suburban voters who abandoned them last fall.“I think everyone’s trying to seek out that magic combination of ‘Trump-plus,’ of continuous to appeal to the new voters that President Trump delivered to the Republican coalition while also bringing back a number of the college-educated suburban folks that were repelled by his antics,” said Steel.