GOP shadow primary gains momentum ahead of 2024
The 2024 Republican shadow primary is gathering pace.
The once-silent strategy and networking of a handful of potential contenders for the next GOP presidential nomination has intensified in recent weeks, as potential hopefuls like former Vice President Mike Pence, the former U.S. Ambassador to the Nations United Nikki Haley and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are starting to flex their political muscles more aggressively.
None are openly running for the White House yet, but Republican watchers and strategists say their intentions are becoming clearer by the day. Yet there’s still a long way to go before the 2024 nominating contest begins in earnest, and any potential nominee still faces a major hurdle: former President Trump, who himself is considering another candidacy.
“The invisible primary is real,” said Alex Conant, Republican strategist and former adviser to Sen. Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign (R-Fla.). “I think the anticipation is that [President] Biden might not run anymore or if he does, he will be really vulnerable. There are a lot of people who are very excited about racing in 2024 and are doing everything they can now to be ready. The tee shot fires after the mid-games.
“Once we get past November, it’s going to be about running for president,” Conant added.
Even ahead of the midterm elections, however, there are signs that the 2024 campaign is heating up. Pence has accelerated his public agenda, visiting Ukraine last month amid the Russian invasion. And just this week, the former vice president delivered a speech at the University of Virginia, where he teased a potential White House bid.
“I’ll let you know,” he told students when asked if he would run for president in 2024.
Pence is far from the only potential candidate to show interest in a potential White House campaign. Haley is expected to return to Iowa this summer to attend the Dubuque Regional Reception hosted by the state’s GOP, putting her back in the crucial first caucus state in the nation.
Pompeo, meanwhile, is expected to publish a new book this fall detailing his tenure in the Trump administration. He also recently suggested in an interview with Fox News that his future political ambitions — including a possible presidential race — don’t depend on what Trump ultimately decides to do in 2024.
“The Pompeos have always used the simple belief that this is the time when you think you can best serve America – this is the place where you can have the most impact,” he said. -he declares. “That’s how we’ll make our decision at the end. It’s the right way to think of someone who is running for the people of the United States to run for office, whether for president or in their home state of Kansas.
For potential candidates like Pence, Haley and Pompeo — all three of whom are former Trump administration officials — the first apparent moves may be born at least somewhat out of necessity, a Republican strategist and campaign veteran says. presidential. None of the three currently hold public office, making it harder to stay in the spotlight as they plot their political futures.
“There are former Trump officials who work very hard to stay relevant without an office, so you see them writing books, traveling, going on Fox News as much as they can because they have to work harder to position themselves for a potential run,” the strategist said.
“Running for president – unless you’re coming to the race with fame or fortune, you have to spend a lot of time building an organization to support a race.”
Other potential White House candidates who currently hold public office don’t face the same kind of pressure, said Keith Naughton, a veteran Republican strategist. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R), for example, can use his own 2022 re-election bid as cover while leveraging the power of his office to fill key political positions and boost his reputation.
“DeSantis is in a perfect position,” said Naughton, who is an opinion contributor for The Hill. “He can do political things, he can make statements and reject any national discourse because he is running for re-election. He gets a free pass until November.
There’s also Trump himself, who has repeatedly hinted at a 2024 comeback bid and accelerated his own public timeline with a series of campaign-style rallies in key battleground states like Georgia and North Carolina and, later this month, Ohio. He also began sending signals to potential candidates in the upcoming GOP presidential primary, telling the Washington Post in a recent interview that if he ran for president again, other potential candidates would have to stay behind.
“If I was running, I can’t imagine they would want to run,” Trump said. “Some out of loyalty would have had trouble running. I think most of these people… [are] there because of me.
For the field of potential Republican presidential candidates, the possibility of another Trump campaign puts them in a difficult position. Brazenly laying the groundwork for White House campaigns could open them up to criticism from the former president, who remains the nation’s most influential and popular Republican.
While some potential candidates, including Haley, have said they would back Trump as the next Republican nominee if he ever runs again, others, like Pompeo and Pence, have made no such pledges. which puts them at risk of incurring the wrath of the former president. before the 2024 nominating contest begins in earnest.
A Republican strategist with extensive presidential primaries experience acknowledged that some potential candidates seem to be positioning themselves more brazenly ahead of 2024, but added that it would be wise to tread lightly in their approach.
“I suspect some people will get into the race but have to be very careful not to give him space until he decides,” the strategist said, referring to Trump. “I think they’re probably betting that what he’s doing won’t matter as much here in a year or two. But for now, it’s still Donald Trump. He has a lot of power. »
On the other hand, Conant, the strategist and former adviser to Rubio, said anyone interested in running for the White House doesn’t have the luxury of time, given the logistical and political hurdles involved in building a a presidential campaign.
“Each candidate tries, at the macro level, to make themselves known, to distinguish themselves on certain key issues. And then at the micro level, start building a team, making friends, winning donors,” Conant said. “I think a lot is already happening.”