While many Americans are making tough calls this week on holiday gifts, potential Republican presidential candidates are at a crossroads, with family discussions and political calculations about whether to run in 2024.
This holiday juncture, ahead of the kickoff to presidential campaign season, has become an informal American political tradition. Before they begin to court voters, ambitious politicians often have to gauge whether their families are on board.
Part of that decision-making process is also a way to stoke interest in their possible candidacies before making a final call.
“I can tell you that my wife and I will take some time when our kids are home this Christmas — we’re going to give prayerful consideration about what role we might play,” former Republican Vice President Mike Pence recently said on Face the Nation. Pence has said he would come to a decision after Jan. 1, 2023.
Two other Republicans — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who also served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations for two years during the Trump administration — have also said they will take the holidays to consider whether to run.
“We are taking the holidays to kind of look at what the situation is,” Haley said at an event in November. “If we decide to get into it, we’ll put 1,000 percent in, and we’ll finish it.”
Hogan, a Trump critic, has been moving closer to a possible 2024 bid for months, privately talking with supporters and advisers about his political future as he wraps up his second term as Maryland’s governor.
“I think it won’t be shocking if I were to bring the subject up [during Christmas],” Hogan told CBS News in an interview this week. “But,” he joked, “I’m a little bit worried. I’ve got my three daughters and five grandkids, and I don’t want to ruin Christmas. ‘Why are we talking about Pop Pop saving the country? Let’s just open presents.'”
Of course, there is one candidate already declared — former President Donald Trump, who spent the weeks before Christmas promoting the sale of his digital trading cards.
“Would make a great Christmas gift,” Trump wrote in a post promoting the cards, which sold out within a week.
Trump’s campaign launch on Nov. 15, seven days after the midterm elections, is one of the earlier launch dates for a presidential run in modern history. His early-in strategy is a non-traditional start, and not often the rollout used by candidates who have secured their party’s nomination in the past, according to a CBS News analysis.
Still, there is a precedent for some early entrants to have success. 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry announced a presidential exploratory committee in December 2002, just 26 days after that year’s midterms.
Since the year 2000, other eventual nominees have launched their campaigns in the year after the midterm elections, frequently in the spring or early summer. For all declared candidates since 2000, the average number of days after the midterms to declare a run is about 138.
Hogan has said that he is likely to discuss and reflect on a potential 2024 run over the holidays, but is still focused on his “day job” as Maryland governor, which ends Jan. 18, 2023. However, come Jan. 1, he will be talking to advisers from past campaigns, as well as political staffers, to “try to figure out what the future is.”
To Hogan and many potential Republican 2024 presidential candidates, Trump’s early announcement shortly after the midterms is not waving them off from thinking about getting into the presidential race.
Asked about Trump’s run, Pence told “Face the Nation” he believes there’ll be “better options.” Former Trump-era Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CBS News that Trump wouldn’t deter him from running, and if he decides to run, he’ll likely announce in the spring of 2023.
In the weeks leading up to the midterm elections, Haley has shifted her position of not running if Trump runs, to being more open to jumping in.
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, who hasn’t ruled out his own potential 2024 run, said this week he doesn’t believe Trump could win the 2024 general election.
“He could be the nominee. But I do not believe, and I think most people would agree, he’s just going to — not going to be able to close the deal in November of ’24,” Sununu told CBS News. “We just have to find another candidate at this point.”
Early polling has indicated a noticeable dip in Trump’s approval rating, and also shows him trailing in a potential head-to-head matchup with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. But when polled with a lineup of other potential primary candidates, including Pence and Haley, Trump is still in the lead.
Trump has already taken aim at potential 2024 opponents, calling DeSantis “Ron DeSanctimonious,” and attacking Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin. Youngkin, who pulled off an upset win over former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe in 2021, has batted down questions about his 2024 future, saying only that he’s “humbled” to be part of the discussions, but that he’s focused on the upcoming legislative session in Virginia.
“2024 is a long way away. We’ll see what happens,” Youngkin told Fox News on Monday when asked who Republicans should nominate in 2024.
Hogan has argued that the Republican Party’s lackluster performance in the midterm elections, particularly by Trump’s endorsed candidates, shows that Trump is in a politically vulnerable state, and that “he seems to be dropping every day.”
Meanwhile, President Biden, who hasn’t officially announced his re-election effort yet, is expected to formally announce a campaign in the coming months, allies say. He is particularly upbeat about Democrats being able to hold onto and grow their ranks in the Senate, according to two advisers.
Asked why no Republican has jumped in to challenge Trump yet, Hogan said that “a lot of people in America just want to kind of catch our breath and make it through the holidays.”
“I don’t feel any pressure or any rush to make a decision… things are gonna look completely different three months from now or six months from now than they did today,” Hogan said.
Source: CBS News