Ten Republican hopefuls are vying for their party's nomination in the upcoming November 2024 election to challenge Democratic U.S. President Joe Biden. Among these candidates, former President Donald Trump, at the age of 77, has faced four separate state or federal criminal cases. Surprisingly, these indictments have actually increased his popularity among Republicans and solidified his position as the front-runner for the Republican nomination. Trump has vehemently claimed that these charges are politically motivated to hinder his chances of securing a second term, a claim that the Justice Department has denied. Remarkably, at the first Republican presidential debate, only two rivals stated that they would not support Trump as the nominee if he were to be convicted. Trump's campaign promises include stricter immigration restrictions, tougher trade policies with China, and taking revenge against those he perceives as his enemies. While he maintains a strong hold on the right wing of his party, winning over moderates and independents in a general election may prove challenging.
Ron DeSantis, the 45-year-old governor of Florida, positions himself as a more conservative candidate than Trump, especially on social issues such as abortion. However, despite having a well-funded campaign, DeSantis has struggled to gain significant traction and even his top donor has expressed hesitancy to provide additional funding unless he adopts a more moderate approach. While DeSantis is Trump's top rival, he lags significantly behind in opinion polls. His campaign is focused on gaining support in Iowa, the site of the first Republican nominating contest.
Mike Pence, Trump's former vice president, has distanced himself from his former boss over the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. Pence, at the age of 64, holds Trump accountable for his role in the attack and has appealed directly to the evangelical Christian community. However, his campaign has struggled to raise funds and he remains in the low single digits in opinion polls.
Vivek Ramaswamy, a 38-year-old former biotechnology investor and executive, has emerged as a potential alternative to Trump. As a political outsider, Ramaswamy has garnered attention for his firm stance against environmental, social, and corporate governance initiatives. He is a fervent supporter of Trump and has even stated that he would pardon him if elected president.
Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina and Trump's ambassador to the United Nations, emphasizes her relative youth compared to Biden and Trump, as well as her background as the daughter of Indian immigrants. Haley, 51, is seen as a solid conservative who can effectively address issues of gender and race, and she presents herself as a defender of American interests abroad. However, she has low single-digit support among Republicans according to opinion polls.
Tim Scott, the only Black Republican U.S. senator, stands out for his optimism and focus on unifying a divided party. At the age of 57, Scott has lower name recognition outside of his home state of South Carolina. While his sunny demeanor appeals to many, it may not be enough to secure the nomination as he currently has only 1% support among Republicans in polls.
Asa Hutchinson, the former governor of Arkansas, launched his bid for the White House in April, urging Trump to step aside to deal with his legal troubles. Hutchinson, 72, highlights his experience leading a deeply conservative state and promises to deliver on policies that Republican voters care about, including tax cuts and job creation initiatives. However, his name recognition remains limited outside of Arkansas, and he has not gained any support among Republicans in recent polls.
Chris Christie, the former governor of New Jersey and federal prosecutor, initially advised Trump's White House campaign but has since become a vocal critic of the former president. Christie, 61, has intensified his attacks on Trump as the number of criminal charges against the former president continues to grow. However, he has only received about 1% support among Republicans in recent polls.
Doug Burgum, the 67-year-old governor of North Dakota, seeks to portray himself as a traditional conservative with a focus on the economy and national security. However, he is one of the least-known candidates and his support in polls is close to zero.
Will Hurd, a former congressman from Texas, is a sharp critic of Trump and is considered a moderate Republican. Hurd, 46, represented a southern Texas border district until he chose not to seek re-election in 2020. He is the second Black candidate in the Republican race, after Tim Scott.
On the Democratic side, President Joe Biden, who is now 80 years old, is seeking re-election despite concerns about his age and low approval ratings. He is facing two long-shot challenges within his own party. One of these contenders is Robert Kennedy Jr., a 69-year-old anti-vaccine activist and son of the late U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy. Kennedy has faced controversies for spreading misinformation about vaccines and the COVID-19 pandemic. Another candidate is Marianne Williamson, a best-selling author and self-help guru. While she dropped out of the 2020 presidential primary, Williamson launched her second bid for the White House in March 2024, focusing on justice and love.
Additionally, political activist and academic Cornel West has announced his intention to launch a third-party bid for president, representing the Green Party. West's platform centers around ending poverty and ensuring housing for all, attracting progressive, Democrat-leaning voters. He has enlisted former Hillary Clinton adviser Peter Daou as his campaign manager.
As the race for the 2024 presidential election intensifies, these candidates will continue to campaign and compete for their party's nomination, with the ultimate goal of challenging President Joe Biden in the November election.
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