The question: Who is running for the Republican nomination for president?
Just about everyone!
A whole lot of would-be presidents–some plausible, some not–are making noises about challenging Donald Trump. Some will wind up not running. But for others, the waters seem just fine for jumping in.
While the media are virtually united in saying Trump can’t win a general election, they are also awash in speculation about his running mate. Kari Lake, who narrowly lost her race for Arizona governor, went to Mar-a-Lago and is widely touted as a possible ticket-mate. The former anchor is telegenic and is all in on Trump’s "rigged election" crusade, as any VP pick would have to be. (Lake just released a video saying she’s challenging her loss, by 20,000 votes, and strongly implying that fraud was involved.)
One obvious impact of a multi-candidate GOP field is that they would split the anti-Trump vote, allowing the former president an easy win with a plurality. From the point of view of those who want to stop him, a one-on-one with Ron DeSantis would be far preferable.
But try telling that to a bunch of ambitious politicians who see a path to the Oval Office.
National Review (which is fundraising off Trump’s desire for its demise) has a tough piece on the potential free-for-fall:
"Were you longing for those debate nights when the field was split into two groups of ten or more candidates making their cases for national leadership in 90 seconds or less? Well, that may be coming again. Every new entrant lowers the bar for others."
The biggest names who aren’t governor of Florida include Mike Pompeo, Nikki Haley, Mike Pence and Chris Christie. The first three were part of Trump’s administration and would have some ’splainin’ to do.
Pompeo took a shot at his former boss, saying, "We were told we’d get tired of winning. But I’m tired of losing." But as Secretary of State he defended the idea that there would be a transition to a second Trump term.
Haley, who won praise as South Carolina governor, would potentially be a strong candidate as a former U.N. ambassador who left two years before Jan. 6. She criticized Trump sharply last year but has seemed more hesitant lately.
Mike Pence, who called out Trump for endangering his life at the Capitol riot, has a major liability: Those who admired what he did on Jan. 6 can’t stand his four years of loyal service to the 45th president.
Christie, who continued to support Trump–despite being booted from the transition team–until Jan. 6, told the Republican Jewish Coalition that "we have to stop whispering" and call out Trump by name.
"We keep losing and losing and losing. And the fact of the matter is the reason we’re losing is because Donald Trump has put himself before everyone else."
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson are also weighing the race.
In the National Review piece, Michael Brendan Dougherty throws in a lot more potential names: Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Brian Kemp, Greg Abbott, Glenn Youngkin.
"Nobody wants this," he writes. "Mike Pence’s candidacy is born hermaphroditic. Partly an obvious break from Trump, but constantly touting the accomplishments of the ‘Trump–Pence’ administration. Hutchinson is running, but why? He wants the 20 percent of Americans who said in 2022 exit polls that gender ideology is going in a good direction in this country?..."
"We already know the Republican Party has plenty of mediocrities. Let’s not wreck the executive branch even more by turning them all out in the pageant show."
But in politics, the show must go on. Many of these folks either won’t run or won’t make it to Iowa. But it doesn’t seem like Trump–who is still the front-runner–will simply waltz to the nomination.