Race For Republican Nomination Heats Up – OpEd
By Arab News
By Dalia Al-Aqidi*
Although the next US presidential election will not be held until November 2024, members of the Republican Party have already begun to work hard in an effort to regain control of the White House.
Former US President Donald Trump, in an attempt to seize the momentum of being the front-runner, launched his 2024 presidential campaign in November 2022 under the slogan “Take America Back.” However, he did not stay alone in the race for long. Former UN ambassador and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley last week became the first Republican to challenge the most controversial president in American history.
Haley’s international popularity may outweigh her chances of success at home due to being Trump’s ambassador, which voters would not ignore. Despite being a woman, born in the US to Indian immigrant parents, and a public servant for more than a decade, her campaign strategy will not go down well with the country’s deeply divided voters.
Haley presented herself to the American people as a moderate candidate, but she would not criticize her old boss or the politics of “Make America Great Again,” which will make her path to victory rough and challenging. This approach will not make her an alternative candidate to Trump. Trump’s supporters will not give her their votes over the former president, since she chose to challenge their idol, while moderate conservatives are concerned about her political views.
Holding the stick in the middle is not a savvy or successful strategy, given the complicated status of the Republican Party following the storming of the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2022.
As soon as the former US ambassador decided to stand against the MAGA creator, Trump’s supporters did not spare any time when it came to attacking and attempting to discredit her. Ann Coulter, a conservative media pundit, columnist and lawyer, launched a racist and personal attack against Haley, describing her as a “preposterous creature.” In a radio interview, Coulter shamelessly advised Haley to “go back to your own country.”
It is highly likely that MAGA supporters will not give Haley a chance unless she appears on a presidential ticket as Trump’s running mate. That would likely be her only option to make it to the White House.
Several other potential Republican candidates would have a better chance of challenging the former president and taking the party’s nomination away from him.
Former Vice President Mike Pence disagreed significantly with his boss when he certified the 2020 presidential election results, putting his life at risk. When they stormed the Capitol, Trump’s supporters were looking for Pence in the rooms and hallways, intending to physically harm him for doing his constitutional duty. He would get the support of the more moderate Republicans. However, most independent voters would not vote for a committed evangelical.
Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has a long resume in public service. Prior to his job in the Trump administration, he was the director of the CIA after serving three terms in Congress. In a video interview with The Hill last week, Pompeo, who is considering whether to run, promised a substantive campaign. “We’d go make arguments. It’s not about tweets. It’s not about noise. It’s not about ‘owning the libs.’ It’s about presenting a rational argument about how to get our government to function,” he stated.
Could Pompeo distance himself from his former boss to rally the support of his fellow “Never Trump” Republicans? That is yet to be seen.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, if or when he decides to run, would be by far the biggest threat to Trump. His success in managing his state during COVID-19, fighting the far-left progressive agenda and his strong stance against President Joe Biden’s border policies, not to mention his young age, provide him with a unique superiority over his potential rivals and place him at the front even before announcing his candidacy. DeSantis is expected to launch his campaign in late May or early June.
Other sitting governors are also thinking of taking a shot at the presidential race, such as Texas’ Greg Abbott, Virginia’s Glenn Youngkin and South Dakota’s Kristi Noem.
Last but not least is Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who was the runner-up to Trump in 2016. It is speculated that he would like a second chance to beat his former rival eight years on. However, he is facing reelection to the Senate in 2024, complicating his path to the party’s nomination. He would have to choose between the two.
The Grand Old Party is eager to win the election and end the spread of the hard-line leftist agenda that is targeting the core of America’s values and identity. The 2024 election will either mark the end of Trumpism or hammer the final nail into the coffin of the GOP. Trump’s eagerness and stubbornness to return to the White House make him officially the most significant liability to his fellow Republicans.
• Dalia Al-Aqidi is a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy.