With President Trump’s chances of staying in the White House dwindling, the Republican party potentially faces a vacuum as it works out who might be the GOP’s new leader and standard bearer in 2024.
The departure of Trump from the scene opens the door to a number of potential candidates who have come up under the mercurial billionaire and who will vie to inherit the movement he created.
“Never Trumpers lost, MAGA won,” Ann Coulter — an original Trump booster, who later soured on the president, told The Post. ” We need Trumpism Without Trump.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisPaul Hennessy / SOPA Images / Sipa
Governor of Florida
The governor of Florida went all in with Trump during his 2018 race and defied the polls to to beat his Democratic opponent Andrew Gillum. Defying dire warnings from liberals, the Florida populist has also moved aggressively to reopen his state and has managed to avoid devastating new surges of COVID-19.
“With a population larger than New York state — and a lot older — under DeSantis, Florida had … fewer deaths without destroying the economy,” Coulter, a DeSantis fan, said. “He prevented BLM protests from turning into destructive riots by vowing to bring felony charges for toppling statues or blocking traffic … He’s articulate, but not prissy, like [Mitt] Romney”
Texas Sen. Ted CruzBACKGRID
Senator from Texas
If there was a second place finisher in the 2016 Republican primary it was Ted Cruz. The Texas senator won the Iowa caucus and was the only Trump rival who even came within running distance of the billionaire. Though famously disliked and not endorsed by any of his GOP senate colleagues at the time, Cruz has worked hard on his image and playing nice with his fellow senators.
Cruz has also developed a vibrant Twitter account, with 4 million followers and growing, where he regular feeds red meat to the base and has been a champion of free speech online. Where Trump was often volatile and thin-skinned on the platform, Cruz is controlled and often indulges in self-deprecating jokes that he might be the Zodaic killer.
“I think Ted Cruz is the likely frontrunner and will be very difficult to beat in Iowa. He will be a formidable candidate,” GOP strategist Luke Thompson told The Post.
Fox News opinion host
The Fox News primetime host is the most watched cable news star on television right now. His program “Tucker Carlson Tonight” was supposedly regular viewing in the White House. In March it was Carlson who went to Mar-a-Lago to give Trump a stern warning about COVID-19 just days before the president declared a state of emergency.
A telling harbingers of his future? The enemies of Trump now view Carlson with fear. In Sept. 2019, The New York Times produced a whole column imagining a Carlson administration, with the host himself featured above the story as the literal terminator.
“Come, take a stroll with me through my recurrent nightmare: It’s the sweltering summer of 2029, and the man in charge is Tucker Carlson — that is, President Tucker Carlson … now in his triumphant second term, after having defeated the incumbent Joseph “Recession Joe” Biden back in 2024.” wrote Farhad Manjoo.
Rick Wilson, a founder of the anti-Trump Lincoln Project, told The Post that Carlson was among the most likely choices his former party could rally to in 2024. Carlson (so far) says he’s not interested.
Former US Ambassador to the United Nation
Many who have despised Trump’s more isolationist tendencies have been drawn to the possible candidacy of Nikki Haley. Many are hopeful the former South Carolina governor and US ambassador to the United Nations could rebuild trust in NATO and other US alliances around the world.
She’s a favorite of billionaire Republican mega-donor Ronald Lauder, who honored her last year with an award at the World Jewish Congress, where he serves as president.
‘You will not be able to rest because we expect even greater things from you,” Lauder told Haley during the ceremony, where he also called her “perhaps the most courageous woman in America today”
As a woman of color, a Haley election in 2024 would shatter many glass ceilings.
President Donald TrumpREUTERS
Donald Trump (and family)
President of the United States
There’s nothing stopping Trump himself from staging a political comeback. He wouldn’t be much older than Biden now in 2024. He earned more votes than any Republican presidential candidate in history and few GOP aspirants would likely seek out a direct challenge a la 2016.
It wouldn’t even be unprecedented as former president Grover Cleveland famously served two non-consecutive terms from 1885 to 1889 and then again from 1893 to 1897.
As many on the left have pointed out, the 2020 election was less a repudiation of Trump than a narrow loss for a man who proved just unpalatable enough for a critical sliver of his coalition.
Sean Spicer, a former Trump Press Secretary, told The Post his ex-boss would be an instant frontrunner in a 2024 primary. “He has a rock solid base, I just don’t think that there is anyone else who even comes close.”
Teasing a potential run in 2024 would at the very least ensure Trump stays relevant and in the press for years to come.
If Trump himself passes on the opportunity, his two very political children Don Jr and Ivanka Trump could also potentially pick up the mantle. Trump Jr has long acted as an outside surrogate for his father online and in the press and connects strongly to his base. Ivanka Trump, meanwhile, has years of administration experience under her belt as a White House advisor to her father.