Will Trump have to run against a field full of Republicans in 2024?
The question: Who is running for the Republican nomination for president?
A host of future presidents, some plausible, some not, are making noises to challenge Donald Trump. Some will end up not working. But for others, the waters seem perfect to jump into.
While the media is pretty much united in saying Trump can’t win a general election, they’re also awash in speculation about his running mate. Kari Lake, who narrowly lost her race for Arizona governor, went to Mar-a-Lago and is widely considered a possible running mate. The former host is telegenic and full of Trump’s “rigged election” crusade, as any VP pick should be. (Lake just posted a video saying he’s challenging his loss, by 20,000 votes, and strongly implying there was fraud.)
One obvious impact of a multi-candidate Republican field is that they would split the anti-Trump vote, allowing the former president an easy victory with a plurality. From the point of view of those who want to stop him, a one-on-one with Ron DeSantis would be much preferable.
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But try telling that to a bunch of ambitious politicians who see a path to the Oval Office.
National Review (which is cashing in on Trump’s wish for its demise) has a hard-hitting piece on the potential for freefall:
“Were you looking forward to those debate nights when the field was split into two groups of ten or more candidates making their cases for the national leadership in 90 seconds or less? Well, it may be coming again. Each new entrant lowers the bar for others.”
Big names that aren’t Florida governors include Mike Pompeo, Nikki Haley, Mike Pence and Chris Christie. The first three were part of the Trump administration and would have some “explaining” to do.
Pompeo took a shot at his former boss, saying, “They told us we’d get tired of winning. But I’m tired of losing.” But as secretary of state he championed the idea that there would be a transition to a second Trump term.
Haley, who won praise as governor of South Carolina, could be a strong contender as a former UN ambassador who left two years before Jan. 6. He was a harsh critic of Trump last year, but has seemed more hesitant of late.
Mike Pence, who called out Trump for putting his life on the line in the Capitol riots, bears a heavy responsibility: Those who admired what he did on Jan. 6 can’t stand his four years of loyal service to the 45th president.
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Christie, who continued to support Trump despite being kicked out of the transition team, told the Republican Jewish Coalition that “we need to stop whispering” and calling Trump names.
“We keep losing and losing and losing. And the fact is, the reason we’re losing is because Donald Trump has put himself before everybody else.”
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson are also weighing in on the race.
In the National Review piece, Michael Brendan Dougherty throws in many more potential names: Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Brian Kemp, Greg Abbott, Glenn Youngkin.
“Nobody wants that,” he writes. “Mike Pence’s candidacy is born hermaphrodite. In part, an obvious break from Trump, but constantly touting the achievements of the ‘Trump-Pence’ administration. Hutchinson is running, but why? gender ideology is going in a good direction in this country?…”
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“We already know that the Republican Party has a lot of mediocrities. Let’s not further destroy the executive by making them all come to the pageant show.”
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But in politics, the show must go on. Many of these people will not run or make it to Iowa. But it doesn’t look like Trump, who remains the front-runner, will simply waltz into the nomination.