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With the 2024 election underway, there’s already a crowded field of Republican presidential candidates vying for the nomination.
While the field is still very much dominated by the Trump show (the twice impeached, four-times indicted, insurrection-boosting former president is so far the frontrunner), a number of other Republican candidates have thrown their hat in the ring for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination either officially or unofficially via trips to Iowa (the first state where Republicans will weigh in on who should be their party’s nominee) and other early primary states like New Hampshire and South Carolina.
So far, our cast of characters includes the first former president to face a criminal indictment, a 37-year-old biopharmaceutical entrepreneur who thinks we should raise the voting age to 25, the first female governor of South Carolina, and one of two sitting Black senators.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Republican presidential candidates.
Who is running?
Former president Donald Trump
Donald Trump is running again as the slew of controversies surrounding him continues to grow. Most recently, Trump was found liable for sexually abusing and defaming writer and longtime Elle columnist E. Jean Carroll. In April, Trump also became the first ever current or former president to face criminal charges. He was indicted over a case regarding hush money payments related to his 2016 presidential campaign but pleaded not guilty to all 34 felony counts. And the former president is the subject of multiple other legal inquiries, including an investigation in Fulton County, Georgia over his attempts to interfere with the electoral count of the 2020 election. Trump has said he will continue to run in 2024, even if he is convicted. (He is legally allowed to do so).
And yet, the 76-year-old is still the frontrunner in the 2024 Republican field, with a loyal base of followers behind him looking to “make America great again,” though his campaign thus far has mostly consisted of bashing other candidates (including those who haven’t officially launched their campaigns yet) rather than focusing on tangible policies. When he announced his campaign in November, Trump once again threw doubt on the electoral system and painted himself as an outsider who is not “a politician or conventional candidate.” Trump is the oldest among the Republican presidential candidates.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis
The Florida Governor officially launched his campaign in a Twitter Spaces conversation with the company’s CEO Elon Musk that was widely described as a “flop” and a “disaster.” The glitchy stream was interrupted amid nearly 30 minutes of technical difficulties. The DeSantis/Elon crossover came after the governor paraded around Iowa in mid-May, making it all but certain he was about to launch his campaign.
Though he’s dipped in popularity in recent months as Trump’s campaign has taken off, the 44-year-old Floridian has made a name for himself by waging culture wars. He’s signed a slew of bills into law in the Sunshine State to clamp down on LGBTQ rights, ban Diversity Equity and Inclusion education as well as AP African American history in public schools, prohibit abortion after six weeks, enable permitless concealed carry, and restrict transgender healthcare for minors. And he started a feud with Disney after the family-oriented conglomerate with LGBTQ-friendly policies denounced his education policies. Once an ally of Trump, DeSantis has become a bitter foe. (Trump’s not-so-catchy nickname for the governor: Ron DeSanctimonious).
Ex-South Carolina Gov. and U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley
The former South Carolina governor and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under Trump launched her campaign for the GOP nomination in February, calling for a “new generation of leadership.” The 51-year-old daughter of Indian immigrants was the first non-white, non-male governor of South Carolina (and the youngest governor in the country) and casts herself as someone who bucks the Republican status quo.
In recent years, Haley has faced criticism for her on-again, off-again alliance with Trump, but hopped back on the anti-Trump bandwagon when she became the first official challenger to the former president this winter. So far, Haley is the only woman to announce a bid on the Republican side.
In her campaign launch video, Haley highlighted her background being “not Black, not white,” and said, “I was different.” She called out Republicans for losing the popular vote in “seven out of the last eight presidential elections,” arguing for a “change” and lamenting the “failure” of “the Washington establishment.” So far, she’s touted the need for fiscal responsibility and a secure border. In her launch video, she also emphasized that she doesn’t “put up with bullies,” and, alluding to her track record as a woman in politics, said, “when you kick back it hurts them more if you’re wearing heels.”
Earlier this month, Haley declined to endorse a federal abortion ban (which is shaping up to become a barometer check for GOP candidates as the primary unfolds). She said it would not “be honest” to mislead Americans with the idea that a federal ban is on the table.
Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie
The former New Jersey Governor officially launched his 2024 Withe House bid on June 6 at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, declaring his mission to “take out” Trump, who he called a “self-consumed, self-serving mirror hog.” Christie, who has spent the past few years as an ABC commentator, has blamed Trump for inciting January 6 and further blasted the former president for his focus on the 2020 election – arguing that the party as a whole should focus on the future. He’s also said he doesn't think Trump could defeat Biden in a 2024 rematch. Christie, who ran for GOP nomination in 2016, is one of the only candidates willing to directly jab at Trump — though he supported the former president in his 2020 reelection campaign, notoriously helping Trump with his debate prep at the time. Christie in April told Semafor that “If I get into the race, I’ll make it interesting,” and has stances that differ from some further right-wing GOP contenders. While the doesn’t support abortion, he does approve of the procedure in cases of rape and incest and does not believe there should be a federal ban.
Entrepreneur and “anti-woke” crusader Vivek Ramaswamy
The 37-year-old entrepreneur launched his campaign in February, positioning himself as a political outsider with a fresh perspective. “I am launching not only a political campaign but a cultural movement to create a new American Dream — one that is not only about money but about the unapologetic pursuit of excellence,” he wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed titled “Why I’m running for President.” Ramaswamy made headlines earlier this month when he proposed raising the voting age to 25-years-old, except for those who have met a “national service requirement.” Previously, the biopharmaceutical company founder has written two books: Woke, Inc.: Inside Corporate America’s Social Justice Scam and Nation of Victims: Identity Politics, the Death of Merit, and the Path Back to Excellence.
Beyond “Civic Duty Voting,” the name for his idea to raise the voting age, Ramaswamy has proposed “America First 2.0,” a series of “25 policy commitments to take America first further than Trump.” In recent weeks, Ramaswamy has lamented “the abandonment of rule of law in America,” and said he wants to shut down the FBI, IRS, and the Department of Education.
So far, Ramaswamy’s campaign is mostly self-funded. The millionaire set out by bankrolling his campaign with well over $10 million, according to Federal Election Commision reports.
Ex-Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson
The former Arkansas governor has positioned himself as a palatable alternative to the MAGA wing of the Republican party. In launching his campaign in Bentonville, Arkansas, Hutchinson said he wants to “bring out the best in America,” and that he aims to fight “for the future of our country and the soul of our party.”
Throughout his years in office, Hutchinson was an outspoken critic of Trump and has called on the former president to drop out of the primary race, telling ABC’s Jon Karl that “the office is more important than any individual person.”
The staunch conservative has said he does not support a federal abortion ban, NBC News reports, though he signed a near total abortion ban into Arkansas law in 2021. He later said the ban should be revisited to include exceptions for rape and incest after the overturn ofRoe v. Wade. While in office, Hutchinson vetoed a bill banning gender-affirming care for youth but signed a law banning transgender women and girls from competing in sports teams of their corresponding gender identity. Currently, his campaign website lists priorities including: “American energy,” “border security,” and “national defense,” among other topics. He also said he wants to cut federal spending and “reduce the federal civilian workforce by 10%.”
Right-wing commentator Larry Elder
The right-wing political commentator launched his campaign for president in April. Elder was the leading GOP challenger in the unsuccessful Republican-led effort to recall California Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2021 over accusations regarding Newsom’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“America is in decline, but this decline is not inevitable,” Elder said in launching his presidential campaign. “We can enter a new American golden age, but we must choose a leader who can bring us there. That’s why I’m running for president.”
The longshot candidate has a massive following due to his radio show and Fox News commentary. He told ousted former Fox News Host Tucker Carlson in April that he is running for president because his father and brothers served in the army but he didn’t, and he feels compelled to serve the country in some capacity. “I feel that I have a moral and religious and a patriotic duty that has been so good to my family and to me,” Elder told Carlson at the time.
Elder listed border security and law enforcement as top issues, and said he’s also running to push back against the “lie that America is systematically racist.”
North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum
Multimillionaire software executive turned North Dakota governor Doug Burgum joined the crowded 2024 GOP field in June, framing himself as the candidate of "small town values." Burgum, who is little known on the national stage, plans to distinguish himself by focusing on the economy, energy, and national security rather than hot-button culture war issues, according to NBC News. Yet Burgum signed one of the strictest abortion bans in the country into law earlier this year, essentially eliminating access to the procedure in North Dakota. The legislation bans the procedure with exceptions only in the first six weeks and only in cases of rape, incest or medical emergency, like ectopic pregnancy.
Texan businessman and pastor Ryan Binkley
One of the longshot contenders in the campaign, Ryan Binkley is a business executive and pastor of Create Church, a non-denominational church he co-founded with his wife. According to the Des Moines Register, Binkley decided to launch his bid because in recent years he's “heard calls from the Lord about what's needed in our country.” Per his campaign website, this Road to Freedom involves “restoring unity” by seeking bipartisan solutions; reducing the national debt; promoting transparency in healthcare pricing; and achieving energy independence.
Michigan businessman Perry Johnson
Yet another businessman candidate, Perry Johnson's dream as president is to “put Washington on a diet,” shrink the size of the federal government, and lower taxes. This is not his first foray into politics. According to the Associated Press, his 2022 bid for Michigan governor was deemed ineligible after the state's election bureau found that he “filed thousands of fraudulent nominating signatures.” Johnson enthusiastically backed Trump's campaigns in 2016 and 2020, and remains a supporter of the former president.
Former Texas congressman Will Hurd
Retired CIA officer and former Texas Rep. Will Hurd entered the race on June 22, pitching himself as an experienced moderate in a field of far-right candidates. Hurd represented a Texas swing district from 2014-2020, serving as one of few Black Republicans in Congress. In his campaign announcement on CBS Mornings, he said a 2024 contest between Trump and Biden would be a “rematch from hell” and pledged to focus on “defining challenges” for the U.S. like the growing influence of China, inflation, and declining school test scores.
No longer running
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez
On August 29, Francis Suarez became the first Republican to drop out of the 2024 presidential race. Suarez had stood out from the rest of the field as the only Latino (he is Cuban American) and one of the youngest candidates (he is 45). Announcing his 2024 campaign launch via video on June 14, Suarez pitched himself as the best bet to take the country forward and connect with young and urban voters. That pitch didn't take him far, and he dropped out after failing to qualify for the first GOP primary debate.
Since he was first elected as Miami mayor in 2017, Suarez has tried to attract Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and crypto money to the city, announcing in 2021 that he would take his salary in Bitcoin and promoting a branded crypotocurrency called MiamiCoin, according to the New York Times. (He has remained a crypto booster even as the industry has crashed in recent months, with coin values plummeting and industry leader Sam Bankman-Fried facing criminal charges for securities fraud.) Suarez has also spoken out about the imminent threat climate change poses to Miami and South Florida.
He announced the end of his campaign in a statement on his X account, calling the two months he spent running for president “one of the greatest honors of my life.”
Former Vice President Mike Pence
Former Vice President Mike Pence, who broke from Trump after he certified the results of the 2020 election in the aftermath of the insurrection despite calls from Trump encouraging him not to do so, has formally announced his own campaign for the presidency. The former Indiana Governor has made stops in Iowa, South Carolina, and New Hampshire (Dunkin, anyone?).
In a past life, Pence, an evangelical Christian and staunch conservative, received flack for an Indiana bill that allowed businesses to discriminate against the LGBTQ community and signed an abortion law in 2016 that was at the time one of the most strict in the country. Recently, he’s been outspoken against the former president, saying that Trump put Pence’s family in danger during the January 6 insurrection. In April, he also testified to a grand jury investigating Trump regarding January 6 and the fallout from his failure to accept the results of the 2020 election. During his campaign launch event, he blamed the former president for abandoning conservative ideals and the Constitution.
On October 28th, Pence became the second person to drop out of the Republican Primary Race. In a speech at the Republican Jewish Coalition's annual gathering he said, “It’s become clear to me: This is not my time. So after much prayer and deliberation, I have decided to suspend my campaign for president effective today.” He went on to add, “We always knew this would be an uphill battle, but I have no regrets"
South Carolina Senator Tim Scott
The current South Carolina senator and only Black Republican in the Senate announced his campaign for president at the end of May, after launching an exploratory committee and “Faith in America” listening tour through early primary states including his home state of South Carolina, Iowa, and New Hampshire.
He rolled out a video also titled “Faith in America” on April 12 commemorating the start of the civil war in South Carolina and set up a parallel between the divisions the country faced then and the current dilemmas fracturing the country today. “Once again our divisions run deep and the threat to our future is real,” Scott said in the video. “I know America is a land of opportunity not a land of oppression. I know it because I’ve lived it,” he said. “I will never back down in defense of the conservative values that make America exceptional.” In the video, Scott said he would: “protect religious liberty,” “stand up to China,” fight for “choice in education,” “defend our borders and our neighborhood streets,” and “protect the right to life.”
Scott told attendees at his campaign launch event in North Charleston, South Carolina that “we need a president who persuades not just our friends and our base,” adding, “we have to have a compassion for people who don't agree with us.”
On November 12, Scott became the third candidate to drop from the race. On Fox News Channel’s “Sunday Night in America” he announced the news. “I love America more today than I did on May 22,” Scott said. “But when I go back to Iowa, it will not be as a presidential candidate. I am suspending my campaign. I think the voters who are the most remarkable people on the planet have been really clear that they’re telling me, ‘Not now, Tim.’”
Editor's note: This story has been continually updated as more candidates made their 2024 runs official or dropped out of the race.
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Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue
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