Former President Donald Trump has given every indication he is running for president again short of formally announcing it, and the party is lining up dutifully behind him. While this comes as no surprise — Trump turned out new voters and is a fundraising machine — he also lost the last election, both in the electoral college and by roughly seven million popular votes.
I’m old enough to remember that the GOP didn’t line up behind Mitt Romney ahead of 2016 after his 2012 presidential loss or behind John McCain in 2012 following his 2008 loss. There has always been a sense among Republicans that nothing is given; you have to earn it. Losing isn’t earning it.
While the GOP may be fractured by internal divisions, on the bright side, we actually have a deep bench of credible, experienced potential candidates, across the conservative spectrum, to run for president in 2024.
Take for example, South Carolina’s Tim Scott, the first African American Republican senator, who has emerged as the face of the Republican Party’s better angels. His 2021 response to President Joe Biden’s joint address to Congress was a reminder of what Republicans are for — freedom, opportunity, and prosperity for all — not just what we are against.
Scott is often derided by the Left as “token,” but on the Right he has proven to be a policy and thought leader who is willing to tackle the great issues of our time. Among those are championing “opportunity zones” to shrink economic disparities in underprivileged communities and taking on policing reform.
He’s a man with faith, firm convictions, and a hopeful spirit that reminds of us better times in America.
The GOP also has a deep bench in gubernatorial offices. Gov. Ron DeSantis has emerged as a fan favorite of the GOP base with his Trump-like ability to challenge the media and Democrats in power. DeSantis also oversees one of the largest economies in the country, which has flourished, making Florida one of the top destinations for relocation for Americans fleeing strict COVID-19 restrictions and economic challenges in blue states.
DeSantis has much of the toughness of Trump, but a policy background from his time in the U.S. House of Representatives working with Democrats on bipartisan issues.
Other popular names that have been floated as potential GOP contenders are heartland Govs. Kim Reynolds of Iowa and Kristi Noem of South Dakota.
Then there’s former Vice President Mike Pence, who has more governing experience than many of the potential candidates combined, having spent nearly a decade in the U.S. House of Representatives and rising to the leadership ranks before becoming governor of Indiana, then going on to serve as vice president of the U.S. Pence will have to overcome a loud but small minority of the GOP who believe myths of the election being stolen, but otherwise is widely popular among supporters of Trump who saw him for four years as a champion of Trump policies with a softer tone.
Other potential candidates, who bring strong foreign policy chops to the table, are Nikki Haley and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Haley was popular during her tenure at the United Nations and has the experience of being a red state governor. Her record as a fierce opponent of Iran and general toughness against America’s adversaries would be a strong juxtaposition to Biden or whoever his successor may be.
Pompeo has both diplomatic and national defense credentials to point to. He helped usher through the historic Abraham Accords, one of most significant breakthroughs toward Middle East peace in decades. Pompeo has been one of the fiercest critics of Biden’s botched handling of the withdrawal from Afghanistan, and as an Army veteran has been a staunch supporter of the military.
Former national security adviser Robert O'Brien also brings strong foreign policy chops to the table.
Then there are the less obvious names that would have an uphill battle in a GOP primary but would be formidable in a general election. Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland has proven to be an exceptional leader during the pandemic, helping put his state among the top with the best records on vaccinations. He’s a moderate who can appeal to voters the GOP needs, including women and senior citizens. He currently has one of the highest approval ratings of any governor in the country.
The Democrats will be faced with either running a then-82-year-old Biden or finding a suitable replacement. Vice President Kamala Harris barely broke 1% on her own in the 2020 cycle, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg has shown his inexperience in his handling of the current supply chain crisis, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is done, and Sen. Bernie Sanders will run again, forcing everyone to the far Left. The election will be Republicans' to lose — so let’s run the best person who can win a general election.
Alyssa Farah is a Republican political adviser. She is the former White House communications director under President Donald Trump, former press secretary to Vice President Mike Pence, and former Department of Defense spokeswoman.
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Original Author: Alyssa Farah
Original Location: The GOP needs a fresh face in 2024