Ain’t just Donald Trump…
And the field will NOT just wait for the former President….
The ambitious ones are working things from the jump….
Auditions for the 2024 Republican nomination have begun — and several big names are trying out for the role of the future Donald Trump.
There’s one problem, however. The former president may not be ready to cede the stage to an understudy.
Trump will give the keynote speech Sunday afternoon at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), which this year is being held in Orlando, Fla. The conference began in earnest on Friday.
Trump’s speech will be his most high-profile public engagement since leaving office after having been impeached for a second time following the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. He is widely expected to win a straw poll conducted among CPAC attendees earlier Sunday.
Trump has said nothing definite about running again. But even his detractors acknowledge he would be the strong favorite for the GOP nomination — even as those skeptics are also adamant he would lose a general election.
“Trump will be the nominee if he decides to run,” said Rick Tyler, a conservative strategist who is openly critical of Trump.
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who voted for Trump’s conviction during both his impeachment proceedings, acknowledged the same reality in comments earlier this week….
Friday saw a procession of speakers who have set their sights on the former president’s mantle as a populist candidate if they enter the 2024 race.
No one really doubts that the GOP has shifted decisively in Trump’s direction over the past four years. But the pro-Trump lane for 2024 is crowded and some of the candidates running within it have significant problems…
In his speech, Hawley sought to portray himself — as Cotton also did — as a victim of “cancel culture.”
“I was called a traitor, I was called a seditionist, the radical left said…if I wouldn’t resign, I should be expelled from the United States Senate,” he said. “I’m not going anywhere, I’m staying right here.”
Figures like Cruz, Cotton and Hawley are betting that sticking as closely as possible to Trump as possible is the way to boost their 2024 chances. They may be right — but the calculus only works if he does not run again.
Pence will notably not appear at CPAC. Nor will former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R), whose criticisms of Trump in a recent Politico profile left her open to the charge of trying to keep a foot in both pro- and anti-Trump camps. Candidates who might run as overly anti-Trump figures, such as Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) are widely considered long shots.
CPAC will give plenty of Trump-like 2024 hopefuls their moment in the spotlight.
But, for good or bad, it is still Trump’s party….