The 2024 GOP presidential primary appears to be a race between former President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — even though only one of the pair has officially entered the race.
Trump is one of four Republican candidates to announce a White House run, but many are watching DeSantis as he heads on Friday to Iowa, the state that kicks off the GOP presidential nominating calendar.
As political prognosticators speculate about who may run, former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced he won’t seek for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024. Hogan, a vocal GOP critic of former President Donald Trump who in January was term-limited after eight years in office, worried that his candidacy in a potentially packed presidential primary field could help Trump win the nomination.
“I want to avoid what we saw in 2016 where we had so many candidates all fighting over… a limited chunk of votes and Donald Trump became the nominee,” Hogan said Monday on Fox News’ “Your World with Neil Cavuto.”
Here’s a look at the handful of major candidates who’ve launched campaigns, and the larger list of potential contenders who may be gearing up to run for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
TRUMP ONCE AGAIN OVERWHELMING WINS CPAC 2024 STRAW POLL
The 76-year-old former president became the first major Republican to declare his candidacy when he launched his third straight campaign for the White House in mid-November, soon after the 2022 midterm elections.
More than two years after leaving the White House following his 2020 election defeat at the hands of President Biden, Trump remains the most popular and influential politician in the Republican Party, and until recently, he was the overwhelming front-runner in the early 2024 GOP presidential nomination polls. And this past weekend, Trump once again overwhelmingly won the straw poll at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). The largest annual gathering of conservative leaders and activists has become a Trump-fest since the former president’s 2016 election.
But Trump’s taken plenty of incoming fire over his impact on the GOP’s lackluster performance in the midterms, received some unfavorable reviews following his mid-November campaign launch at his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, Florida, and has faced of criticism over controversial comments and actions in the past two months.
While Trump remains the front-runner in an average of the Republican nomination surveys, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who’s in second place in the polls, has narrowed the gap.
Trump has been anything but active on the campaign trail. Since he declared his candidacy, the former president’s made just one stop in New Hampshire and South Carolina (both on the same date in late January), the states that vote second and third in the GOP nominating calendar. And his March 13 visit to Iowa – which kicks off the calendar – will be his first this cycle.
Former two-term South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who later served as ambassador to the United Nations in the Trump administration, launched her presidential campaign last month in her hometown of Charleston before heading straight out onto the campaign trail in New Hampshire and Iowa.
Haley’s been going on the attack — both against President Biden and the Democrats as well as members of her own party. At a major donor retreat last weekend, Haley blasted both parties — including Trump — for massive government spending that contributed to an exploding national debt.
HALEY BLASTS BOTH DEMOCRATS AND FELLOW REPUBLICANS OVER EXPLODING NATIONAL DEBT
“I’m not afraid to call BS on all the bailouts and handouts that are bankrupting America. And I’m not afraid to call out my fellow Republicans,” the 51-year-old Haley said.
Vivek Ramaswamy, a health care and tech sector entrepreneur, best-selling author, conservative commentator, and crusader in the culture wars, declared his candidacy late last month.
The 37-year-old Ramaswamy, author of “Woke, Inc.: Inside Corporate America’s Social Justice Scam,” says his vision centers on restoring the “national identity in America.” He repeatedly called for the scrapping of the FBI and the Department of Education and has said he’d repeal federal affirmative action on his first day in the White House.
The multi-millionaire candidate told Fox News Digital last week that he’s “making a big personal investment” in his campaign.
Businessman Perry Johnson declared his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination last week.
Perry, who last year ran for the 2022 GOP gubernatorial nomination in Michigan, was considered a top contender before he and four other Republican hopefuls were disqualified because of invalid signatures.
Earlier this year the 75-year-old Johnson signaled his White House ambitions by spending big bucks to run an ad during the Super Bowl targeting Iowa voters and showcasing his pledge to cut federal spending by 2% per year.
Florida’s governor, who saw his popularity soar among conservatives across the country over the past three years due to his forceful pushback against coronavirus pandemic restrictions and his aggressive actions as a culture warrior going after media, corporations and teachers unions, won an overwhelming 19-point re-election victory in November.
DeSantis has showcased that his wins as governor have “transformed” Florida from a top general election battleground “into the nation’s leading red state,” and that his policy victories in Florida can serve as a roadmap for the entire nation.
The 44-year-old governor has repeatedly teased “you ain’t seen nothing yet” as he looks to more conservative wins in his state’s legislative session in the coming months, courtesy of a GOP super majority in Tallahassee.
But the governor’s agenda in Florida isn’t preventing him from traveling across the country as he highlights his “Florida blueprint” and promotes his newly released book, “The Courage to Be Free.”
DESANTIS AIMING FOR MORE CONSERVATIVE VICTORIES IN FLORIDA
DeSantis last year routinely dismissed talk of a 2024 White House run, but he’s dropped plenty of hints since his re-election victory. Sources in DeSantis’ wider orbit have said any presidential campaign launch would come in the late spring or early summer, after the end of the legislative session. But the governor’s latest travel itinerary, which will take him to the states that kick off the GOP presidential nominating calendar, is sparking more speculation about an increasingly likely White House run.
Asked about his 2024 timeline recently on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends,” DeSantis pointed to the legislative session and his book tour and said, “Those are what we’re going to be doing over these next few months. As we get beyond that, then we can decide from there.”
Former Vice President Mike Pence, Trump’s running mate in 2016 and 2020, has repeatedly said that Republican voters will have “better choices” than the former president in 2024.
Pence is currently crisscrossing the country on a book tour for his new memoir “So Help Me God,” in which he showcases successes of the Trump-Pence administration, but also spotlights criticisms of Trump that have generated plenty of headlines. That tour, and other trips, have taken him to the early voting states.
The 63-year-old former vice president emphasized that the positive response he’s said he’s receiving from his new autobiography “has been very encouraging” as he weighs a 2024 bid.
The former congressman turned Indiana governor, who has long been a champion for social conservative voters, appears to be making a play for evangelical voters with meetings earlier this year with some of the right’s most influential pastors.
PENCE REVEALS HIS POTENTIAL 2024 ADVANTAGE
Pence told Fox News Digital last week that Republican voters’ familiarity with his story affords him some breathing room as he makes a decision on whether to launch a presidential campaign.
“I think the advantage that we have is I think the American people know the Pences,” he said. “By and large they know our story and our career, and some are getting to know it better every day. So, we think we have time to be discerning, to be reflective, to listen,” Pence said.
Pence reiterated his 2024 timetable, saying that he and his wife, former second lady Karen Pence, “both believe that we’ll have a clear sense of our call this spring.”
Mike Pompeo, who served as CIA director and later as secretary of State in the Trump administration, recently released his own memoir.
“Never Give an Inch: Fighting for the America I Love,” spotlight’s the former Army officer turned Kansas congressman’s tenure as America’s spy chief and top diplomat.
Similar to Pence and Haley, Pompeo has spent plenty of time since the end of the Trump administration crisscrossing the country on behalf of fellow Republicans who ran in 2022 midterm elections, including numerous stops in the early voting presidential primary and caucus states.
Pompeo’s political action committee last year went up with ads in those states, another sign he’s been seriously mulling a White House bid. The 59-year-old Pompeo has told Fox News Digital that “we are doing the things that one would do to be ready to make such an announcement and then to engage with the American people on the ideas that we believe matter.”
Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina says “so far, so good” when it comes to his listening tour that will help him decide whether to launch a campaign for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
Scott, the only Black Republican in the Senate and a rising star in the GOP who won a landslide re-election last year, was asked last weekend at a major retreat for top GOP donors whether he’ll run for the White House.
“I’m on my faith in America tour. I am learning a lot about whether or not the appetite for a positive, optimistic message anchored in conservatism actually works,” Scott told the audience. “We’ll continue our faith in America tour. So far, so good. We’re getting tremendous feedback. I hope we continue to do so.”
He said that after a “little while” he’ll “come to a decision on what the American people are telling me.”
SCOTT SAYS HE’S GETTING ‘TREMENDOUS FEEDBACK’ ON 2024 LISTENING TOUR
Word of the tour, which kicked off late last month with multiple events in Iowa, the state that holds the first contest in the GOP’s presidential nominating calendar, was first reported by Fox News. In another sign he’s likely to launch a White House run, Scott ran digital ads in Iowa ahead of his visit.
The 57-year-old Scott, a ferocious fundraiser, had more than $20 million in his campaign coffers at the beginning of the year, which could be transferred to a presidential campaign. The fundraising war chest could give Scott a head start over some of his potential rivals, or afford him some extra breathing room to make his decision.
Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson acknowledges that his two trips to Iowa earlier this year — the state whose caucuses for a half century have kicked off the GOP presidential nominating calendar — are a sign that he’s seriously considering a White House run.
“Going to Iowa probably does send some signals that you’re serious about looking at 2024,” Hutchinson, who in January completed eight years as governor, told Fox News.
A former federal attorney turned two-term congressman who served as Drug Enforcement Administration administrator and Department of Homeland Security undersecretary during then-President George W. Bush’s administration, Hutchinson is not that well-known outside of Arkansas. He told Fox News that “I’m not setting an artificial timeframe — I’m wanting to make sure that if I did become a candidate, that there would be the kind of financial support that’s needed.”
Hutchinson, 72, has hinted that he’ll have a decision in the early spring.
Gov. Chris Sununu was easily re-elected in November to a fourth two-year term steering the key northeastern battleground state of New Hampshire.
Sununu, like Hutchinson, has in recent years become a vocal GOP critic of the former president and has repeatedly predicted that Trump won’t win the 2024 nomination. Sununu has emphasized that the GOP should “move on” from Trump and that “there’s lots of other great leaders out there.”
The 48-year-old governor called Trump “the orange-haired elephant in the room” in a speech Friday at a 2024 GOP cattle call.
Similar to DeSantis, Sununu is currently dealing with this state’s legislative session, and any 2024 announcement likely would come following the conclusion of that session and the signing of the state’s next biennial budget.
WHAT SUNUNU TOLD FOX NEWS ABOUT HIS 2024 TIMETABLE
“I think the entire presidential timetable will start coming into full vision, full gear, later this summer sometime. We’re not rushing anything. There’s a lot of interest and that’s kind of exciting,” Sununu told Fox News Digital last week.
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s 2021 election victory — he was the first Republican to win a gubernatorial election in Virginia in a dozen years — energized the GOP. And last year he was a politician in demand on the campaign trail, crisscrossing the country on behalf of fellow Republicans.
Youngkin, 56, has reiterated that he’s focused right now on his 2023 agenda for Virginia, and on flipping the state Senate from blue to red in this year’s elections in Virginia. But he faced a setback in his policy push for a 15-week abortion ban when Democrats captured a GOP held state senate seat in a special election earlier this year, increasing their razor-thin majority.
When asked about a 2024 run, Youngkin told Fox News Digital last autumn “we’ll have to see how things pan out” and reiterated that he’s “incredibly flattered by this discussion… the fact that my name is in the national mix is pretty overwhelming.”
Gov. Kristi Noem, a conservative congresswoman who spent eight years in the House of Representatives before winning South Dakota’s governorship in 2018, was overwhelming re-elected in November in the reliably red state.
Pundits view Noem, 51, as a possible contender for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, or as a potential running mate.
“I’m focused on doing my job here in South Dakota,” Noem said when Fox News Digital asked earlier this year whether she’s mulling a White House run.
But she also said that “I’m focused here, but I’m going to continue telling South Dakota’s stories,” adding “that’s a story that I think can bring hope to the rest of the country.”
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott topped Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke — a former congressman who unsuccessfully ran for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination — by 11 points in November, his third straight double-digit gubernatorial victory in the reliably red state.
Thanks to his actions on immigration, abortion and a host of other issues, he’s become very visible and popular with conservatives across the country.
Asked in a Fox News Digital interview earlier this year about a possible 2024 presidential run, the governor emphasized that “my primary focus right now is to maintain those conservative principles and policies for the state of Texas and do my part to expand them across the country. But for the next six months, I’ve got to get these policies passed for the state of Texas to ensure that we put our state on a pathway for not just the next four years but for [the] next 40 years.”
Asked if he’s not ruling out a potential White House run, the 65-year-old Abbott said, “I think a more accurate way to say it is it’s not something I’m ruling in right now. I’m focused on Texas, period.”
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, the runner-up to Trump in the combustible 2016 GOP presidential nomination race, is running for re-election in the Senate next cycle, and is already gearing up for what may become a bruising battle.
CRUZ SAYS HIS 2024 RE-ELECTION WILL BE A ‘FIREFIGHT’
While he has not 100% ruled out making another White House and has repeatedly said that “when I ran in ’16, it was the most fun I’ve had in my life,” pundits don’t expect him to jump into the 2024 presidential race.
But Cruz doesn’t rule a future White House run, telling Fox News Digital last week that “there is a season for everything. I can tell you this. I am 52 years old. And life is long, and I intend to be in this fight for as long as there is breath in my body.”
Sen. Rick Scott, a former two-term Florida governor who this past cycle chaired the Senate GOP campaign committee, has already started ramping up his 2024 re-election campaign.
But political pundits still view Scott, a former health care executive who’s the wealthiest member of the Senate, as a possible White House contender.
Fueling more speculation was an ad Scott went up with earlier this year with an ad where he calls for “change” the Republican Party. The seven-figure ad blitz, which was first reported by Fox News, didn’t run just in Florida, but from coast to coast on national cable TV.
This week the 70-year-old Scott virtually headlined a weekly gathering of top conservative leaders and activists in New Hampshire.
Former Republican Rep. Will Hurd of Texas, who has made two trips so far this year New Hampshire, sparking speculation that the one-time clandestine officer in the CIA who went on to serve three terms in Congress, is gearing up for a potential White House run.
Asked about a possible White House run, the 45-year-old Hurd told Fox News earlier this year that “I always have an open mind about how to serve my country. And I’ve been fortunate to be able to serve my country in a number of different ways.”
Former Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming has repeatedly vowed to do “whatever it takes to keep Donald Trump out of the Oval Office.”
Cheney, a longtime Trump critic who was stripped of her House GOP leadership position and last summer routed in the Republican primary in her bid for renomination by a Trump backed challenger, was a co-chair of the Democrat-dominated Jan. 6 select committee that in its final report recommended barring the former president from ever holding office again.
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Cheney, 56, has mulled a presidential bid in order to directly take on Trump, but has said she hasn’t “made a decision yet about what I’m going to do.”