At least 15 Republicans have quietly made moves ahead of the 2024 presidential primary and some may jump in even if former President Donald Trump runs again, The Washington Post reports.
Potential contenders like former Vice President Mike Pence, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton are traveling to early primary states, drawing up plans, huddling with donors or testing out campaign messages, the Post reported.
Though Trump has signaled that he plans to run again, he obviously has not cleared the field.
“They’re all going to run against him,” Tony Fabrizio, Trump’s longtime pollster, told the Post. “If you have the former vice president running, what does that say for the loyalty argument?”
Trump has failed to clear the field of right-wing candidates while moderates like former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and potentially Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan plan to run on moving the party beyond Trump.
Iowa and New Hampshire heat up:
At least six Republican senators have recently made appearances in Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two nominating contest states, as have Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley.
Nine likely candidates, including Christie and Hogan, have spoken at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.
Pence has also huddled with top donors in Michigan, including the wealthy DeVos family.
Cotton has developed a long PowerPoint presentation to show to donors.
DeSantis is already looking at the margins he would need to hit to defeat President Joe Biden.
Trump gets ready:
Trump and his allies are preparing to face a growing number of potential rivals. Polling has repeatedly found him as the strongest candidate in the field by far.
“I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t run. All the polling shows he would be the front-runner by a country mile. The day that Trump makes it clear he’s going to run — it would be a mountain to climb to beat him,” Sen. Lindsey Graham told the Post. “If it’s a policy election, he’s in good shape. It’s his primary to lose.”