(The Hill) — The 2024 presidential election may still be three years away, but Republicans have already begun to jockey for their places in the primary. Former President Donald Trump’s repeated hints that he could mount another bid for the White House remains perhaps the biggest obstacle for other would-be contenders.
While none have spoken definitively about their plans for 2024, many potential candidates have already started networking with GOP leaders and donors in key states, while testing out potential campaign messages in public appearances.
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Here are the 10 Republicans most likely to run for president in 2024:
Trump has been teasing the possibility of a 2024 comeback almost from the moment he left the Oval Office, and his hints have gotten more brazen in recent months.
He’s avoided offering specifics about his thought process, though he’s repeatedly said that his supporters will be “very happy” with his decision.
A campaign announcement likely isn’t imminent. In an interview with Fox News published in early November, Trump said that he will “probably” wait until after the 2022 midterm elections to announce whether or not he’ll make another run for the White House.
If he does jump into the race, he’d start off as the instant favorite to win the nomination – at least for now. A Politico/Morning Consult poll released in mid-December found that 69 percent of Republican voters want Trump to mount a 2024 comeback bid.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has said that he’s focused only on his 2022 reelection campaign, but that hasn’t shut down speculation that a presidential run may be in the cards.
DeSantis became a conservative darling last year for his laissez-faire approach to the coronavirus pandemic and often indignant response to the advice of public health officials. He’s also crisscrossed the country for fundraisers and other events, leading many political observers to wonder whether he’s looking beyond 2022.
There’s little doubt in DeSantis’s fundraising abilities if he were to mount a presidential bid. His political committee has nearly $67 million in the bank, and he’s already received contributions from donors in all 50 states.
What’s unclear is whether DeSantis would still run for president if Trump jumped into the race. Unlike many would-be 2024 contenders, DeSantis hasn’t said publicly that he won’t run if Trump does.
Former Vice President Mike Pence would appear to be an obvious choice for Republicans in 2024, given the four years he spent as Trump’s No. 2.
He’s visited New Hampshire and other early primary states, fueling speculation about his political ambitions. And notably, he hasn’t ruled out a run.
“I can honestly tell you in 2023, my family and I will do what we have always done. We’ll reflect, we’ll pray and determine where we might best serve, and we’ll go where we’re called,” he told CNN during a stop in New Hampshire earlier this month.
Still, there are questions about just how viable Pence would be in a GOP primary. Trump and his supporters have expressed frustration with Pence for overseeing the certification of electoral votes on Jan. 6, and the former president said at an event in Florida this month that Pence had been “mortally wounded” within the GOP for his role in the election certification process.
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a one-time ally of Trump, has taken an increasingly confrontational approach to the former president over his false claims of fraud in the 2020 election.
Those jabs, as well as an increasingly aggressive public schedule, have sparked chatter that the former New Jersey governor may be eyeing another presidential run after his unsuccessful bid for the GOP nomination in 2016.
In public appearances, Christie has sought to outline a new direction for the post-Trump GOP, urging Republicans to focus on the future and move on from Trump’s desire to relitigate the 2020 presidential race.
But that strategy also risks isolating the Republican base that remains loyal to Trump and his vision for the GOP, and it’s not clear whether it will be a winning message in a 2024 primary.
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley is doing what most prospective presidential contenders would do as they weigh a run for the White House.
She’s formed a political action committee (PAC) to boost Republican candidates ahead of the 2022 midterms and she’s made stops in critical early primary and caucus states, all the while trying to navigate the tricky political dynamics of the post-Trump GOP.
But Haley also finds herself in a precarious position. She infuriated Trump earlier this year for criticizing his refusal to accept the results of the 2020 election and subsequent role in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Since then, however, she’s taken a more deferential approach to the former president. In April, Haley said that she would not run for president in 2024 if Trump does. She walked that stance back in October, saying that her decision was not dependent on what Trump does.
Cruz sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 only to lose out to Trump in a particularly bitter primary. He became one of Trump’s most vocal boosters on Capitol Hill during the former president’s tenure in the White House, but that hasn’t stopped him from eyeing another presidential bid of his own.
He told the conservative news outlet Newsmax earlier this year that he’s “certainly looking” at another presidential run, and he hasn’t yet committed to foregoing a White House bid if Trump decides to take another stab at the presidency.
Asked on CBS’s “Face the Nation” last month if he would challenge Trump in 2024, Cruz said that the former president “would be very, very formidable” before noting that he came incredibly close to beating Trump in the 2016 primary.
“I came in second,” Cruz said. “There’s a long history of runner-ups becoming the next nominee.”
Like Haley, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has launched a PAC ostensibly to boost GOP candidates in the 2022 midterm elections, while also making the rounds in early primary and caucus states.
Pompeo has said that his focus, for now, is on helping Republicans recapture control of the House and Senate next year, dodging the question of just how seriously he’s eyeing a potential presidential run. But he has yet to say whether Trump will have an effect on his overall decision.
Asked by Fox News host Sean Hannity earlier this year whether he would run if Trump decides to take a pass on another presidential campaign, Pompeo said that he is “always up for a good fight.”
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem has repeatedly insisted that she’s focused only on her 2022 reelection bid and isn’t planning a run for the White House in 2024. She’s also said that she wants to see Trump as the GOP’s next presidential nominee, seemingly taking herself out of the running.
But that hasn’t stopped speculation that she may have ambitions beyond the South Dakota governor’s mansion. Noem is seen as a rising star among Republicans and has cultivated a national fundraising network that has observers wondering about her future ambitions.
Earlier this year, her campaign launched a federal PAC that can distribute funds into elections outside South Dakota and create a pot of money that could be used for a future federal campaign.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) has positioned himself as one of the Biden administration’s most vocal opponents in the Senate, making frequent appearances on Fox News to criticize the president and his policies.
He’s also huddled with GOP leaders in states like Iowa and New Hampshire – the first presidential caucus state and primary state, respectively. Asked during an event in Londonderry, N.H. in October about a potential 2024 bid, Cotton didn’t shy away from the idea.
“I expect I’ll be back to New Hampshire again in the future,” he told Insider.
As a GOP governor of a blue state, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has sought to build a national reputation as a traditional Republican in the vein of former President Ronald Reagan. He’s also been a vocal critic of Trump, which could give him a unique lane to run in should he mount a bid for the White House in 2024.
Hogan has insisted that he’s focused on completing his term as governor while trying to steer the country toward a more civil political debate. But he hasn’t dodged conversations about a potential 2024 run entirely, acknowledging during an interview on CBS’s “This Morning” earlier this year that he “hasn’t ruled it out.”
Hogan is also one of the few prospective GOP contenders that wouldn’t be deterred from running if Trump launches another campaign.