Republican Presidential Candidates to Emerge Soon — Here’s Our Top Ten List
Author: Greg Valliere
February 10, 2023
DONALD TRUMP IS OFF TO A SLOW START: His fundraising has been tepid and his crowds have been modest — and several challengers are gearing up, starting with Nikki Haley, who is expected to announce next week. Here’s our handicapping:
10 — The field: Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, Kristi Noem of South Dakota, Brian Kemp of Georgia, foreign policy hawk John Bolton, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and former Rep. Liz Cheney. None have a chance.
9 — Larry Hogan: A hugely popular Republican ex-governor in liberal Maryland, Hogan is a darkhorse. He’s somewhat similar to the late John McCain — a tough talking anti-politician, conservative and pragmatic. And loved by the press.
8 — Mike Pence: He has support among Christian conservatives, but Pence’s poll numbers are terrible. The party’s pro-Trump base will never support him.
7 — Tim Scott: One of the party’s leading fundraisers, Scott could last well into the primaries. The affable African-American Senator, very popular in conservative South Carolina, could get name recognition for 2028.
6 — Chris Sununu: The New Hampshire governor is clearly running and has moved up on our list. An outspoken guest on the Sunday talk shows, Sununu isn’t shy about criticizing Trump, which makes his nomination unlikely.
5 — Mike Pompeo: A fierce foreign policy hawk, Pompeo is well-liked within the party. The former Secretary of State has the funding to last well into the primary season, and could be a vice presidential favorite.
4 — Nikki Haley: She’s sharp, quick, funny and relatively moderate. Trump has criticized Haley for being ambitious, but that’s hardly a flaw in politics. A perfect vice presidential nominee — at the very least.
3 — Glenn Youngkin: Who? The Virginia governor isn’t well known, but within the party Youngkin is viewed as the dark horse to watch. He’s just as conservative as Ron DeSantis on cultural issues, but has a more likable personality than the Florida governor. Plus, Youngkin is worth about $500 million, which helps.
2 — Donald Trump: You underestimate the former president at your own peril, but the party’s top fundraisers have abandoned Trump and his legal problems will only increase in coming months. And Trump has fierce GOP detractors, led by Sen. Mitch McConnell, who will never forgive him for endorsing weak candidates who lost elections last fall.
1 — Ron DeSantis: He’s been the candidate to watch for the past several months, and he’s still the frontrunner. What are his flaws? He lacks warmth, detractors say, he doesn’t get along with the press, and is too conservative on social issues. Actually, those could be attributes.
LOOK FOR DeSANTIS to announce after the Florida legislature adjourns in late spring. He’s only 44 years old, a plus as the country looks for fresh leaders. He’s a graduate of Yale and the Harvard Law School and is a Navy veteran. DeSantis is the GOP favorite, poised to give Biden a very competitive race.
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