It’s hard to imagine something that’s already red-hot getting even hotter, but that’s exactly
what’s happened of late with the speculation surrounding who will end up the 2024 Republican presidential nominee.
Whereas it’s often alleged that human nature never changes -- and I believe that’s definitely true -- it could also be argued that politics never stays the same. In our modern, internet driven world where the news cycle is literally 24/7/365, a politician’s fortunes could easily rise and fall within a matter of hours… or minutes… or seconds.
America’s seen it happen this year. And we’ve only just begun to talk about the next presidential election.
Part of the reason for the confusion is the establishment media might slowly be waking up to the phony, overly contrived nature of President Joe Biden’s supposedly sunny disposition. Simply put, as the “jerk” side of Biden is shown more and more by the talkers (because of the incident last week with Joe and a CNN reporter as the fool was wrapping up his Geneva summit with Vladimir Putin), the prospect of defeating him will become all the more enticing as time goes by.
Then there’s the matter of former president Donald Trump’s reputational rehabilitation concerning the controversial events of last year, where subsequent release of facts revealed he wasn’t responsible (as he insisted at the time) for the teargassing of “protesters” in Lafayette Square across from the White House and that he also was likely correct in suggesting the Chinese Communist Party (or Wuhan, if you prefer) virus was no accident or freak of nature.
All the conjecture about some poor unfortunate local Chinese soul getting sick with the novel coronavirus because of ingesting a bat at an outdoor wet market never did seem believable, did it? To fall hook line and sinker for the farce media’s narrative that all but dismissed the possibility that the Chinese government was up to some funny stuff in that laboratory… which was more plausible?
Anyway, Trump is the one man who dominates the 2024 discussion, which presents a vexing dilemma for his potential rivals for the GOP nod in three years.
“Searching for street cred with voters, [Republican] early underdogs are rushing to lift up candidates across the country through their endorsements, public appearances and fundraising events.
“Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley is en route to Iowa [this] week to deliver the keynote address at the state GOP’s biggest fundraiser of the year. Former Vice President Mike Pence will cruise in right behind her the next month, lending his hand in the fight for control of the House. Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Tom Cotton of Arkansas have been making noise on the endorsement front. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also has been busy lending his support to GOP candidates.
“’The shadow primary is on,’ said Craig Robinson, a veteran Iowa-based GOP strategist. ‘This cycle is different because of the presence of former President Trump. He casts a long shadow on it.’ Hours earlier, Mr. Trump issued the statement: ‘ICYMI: ‘It’s Donald Trump’s Party.’’”
The last comment says it all. The GOP hopefuls can visit the early states all they want, but nothing definitive will take place until after Donald Trump gives his thumbs up or down to his intentions to run. It’s not going out on a limb to agree with Trump -- in talking about the 2024 nomination -- the Republican Party is “his” to do with what he pleases.
It's Trump’s party because of a lot of factors. First, there’s his performance in the 2020 election where he received almost 75 million votes, the highest total ever for a man who didn’t win the White House (and the second highest in history behind the fraud bolstered Joe Biden). Second, the ongoing vote audits in various states could very well show irregularities that would’ve made Trump president if a more thorough perusal had happened in November and December of last year.
Third, Trump has been vindicated on so many of the contentious issues of last year that supposedly caused skittish COVID-terrified voters to choose the ethically and mentally challenged Democrat as an “anyone but Trump” alternative. If there ever was a collective case of political buyer’s remorse among the American electorate, it’ll crop up sometime in the next year or so.
Fourth, the disastrous performance of the Biden administration is making Trump smell like a rose. Sure, the #NeverTrumpers are still out there, and for them, never truly means never. It’s the same for diehard Democrats who waited what seemed like a thousand years to vote the New Yorker out of office -- and it would be a thousand more before they’d ever change their minds. But the oft-discussed independent and mushy middle voter will abandon Joe and the Democrats in droves -- and sooner rather than later. If you don’t believe it, have you seen what Hunter Biden is up to lately? (Hint: Wealthy liberals will be paying top dollar for Hunter’s art scribblings! Gee, any influence peddling there???)
Lastly (there are more, but you have to stop somewhere), Trump deserves to be in the GOP’s proverbial catbird seat. He’s done more for the party in his six years in politics than any single politician since Ronald Reagan. Think about it. Despite all that’s happened, Trump retains the loyalty and devotion of conservative voters. Not all of them want to see him run again, but there’s an enormous measure of emotion and respect out there.
Besides, no serious contender would dare criticize him to a hurtful level. For those that do? Get in line with Liz Cheney at the unemployment office when Wyoming’s voters primary her next year.
What to do when Trump hasn’t leaked his plans either way? Any discussion of the 2024 race must be about the non-Trumpers. I’ve broken them down into categories. As time goes on, we’ll get a better idea of who’s legit and who should just quit:
The governors: Republicans aren’t like Democrats. Unlike in the liberal party, the United States senate isn’t thought by conservatives to be the proving grounds for presidential candidates. With the exception of John McCain in 2008 (and he was considered the “next in line” after being defeated by George W. Bush in 2000), there hasn’t been a GOP senator standard-bearer since… Bob Dole in 1996. It goes back a heck of a long way before Dole, however! Richard Nixon was in the senate from 1950-53, before becoming Ike’s vice president. Does that count? Of course, Barry Goldwater was a senator… in 1964.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is getting all the buzz now for the top Republican contender if Trump doesn’t end up going for it. After him, prior to her capitulation on the transgender athlete thing a few months ago, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem was getting a lot of mentions. We’ll have to see if she can make a comeback.
The senators. Sen. Rand Paul will receive serious consideration from a lot of folks in a Trump-less field as well. McLaughlin’s story highlighted Paul’s trip to Ohio this past weekend to endorse U.S. senate candidate Mike Gibbons for the open 2022 Buckeye State seat. In addition, Sen. Ted Cruz is always active in both Texas and national politics, and as 2016’s runner-up to Trump, he’s still well thought-of by conservative voters.
There are certainly others, such as Senators Josh Hawley and Tom Cotton and perhaps Florida Senator Marco Rubio, the establishment darling from the 2016 primaries. Any other senators who would throw their hat in the ring have an uphill climb at best to wrest time and attention from the more well-known candidates. Think “undercard debate” when Trump dominated things in 2016.
Establishment candidates. Normally we would consider Trump the establishment candidate, but there’s no way the powers-that-be would ever get behind him. If anything, former vice president Mike Pence might be thought of in this lane, however unmerited and unfair such a designation might be. Because of January 6, Pence is disqualified in the minds of many ardent Trump backers; but if the remnants of the establishment get behind him…. Well? It remains to be seen.
If not Pence, Nikki Haley will probably be considered the lead establishment candidate. She’ll get support from the Trump bashers and be played up by the media as the “nice” compromise candidate between the enthusiastic conservatives and the mushy John Kasich moderates. In this environment, I don’t think she has a chance.
There will almost certainly be an anti-Trump candidate as well (lumped in here with the establishment runners). Liz Cheney said she won’t rule out the possibility of giving it a try. John Kasich appeared at the Democrat convention (via video) last summer. His ego is big enough to think he has a chance as a “consensus” candidate. No way.
There will be an outsider candidate or two. Does Mike Pompeo fit here? A top business executive, perhaps. A media personality? Tucker Carlson? An athlete? Tom Brady? Peyton Manning? Brett Favre? Curt Schilling? … It’s always fun to speculate. All would try to pull a 2016 repeat, but there’s only one Donald Trump.
And there will certainly be some “Why are they there?” candidates as well. There always are. These are people whose egos outweigh their common sense. Think Tom Steyer.
The 2024 GOP field will take care of itself when the time comes. In the meantime, Trump will continue to comment on current events and send out statements, teasing everyone. Other Republicans will keep up their trips to the early states. The content-hungry media will report on them. And bumbling Joe Biden will keep stumbling over himself. It’s fun, isn’t it?
2024 GOP field