‘Blood in the water’: Trump’s former allies turn foes in 2024 race

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Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks at an annual leadership meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher) John Locher/AP

‘Blood in the water’: Trump’s former allies turn foes in 2024 race

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Despite an early announcement from former President Donald Trump that he will seek a third White House bid, several high-profile Republicans and onetime allies of the former president aren’t deterred as they tease their own 2024 presidential aspirations and make the case for a new generation of leadership.

During the Republican Jewish Coalition conference held over the weekend, several prominent party figures sought to distance themselves from Trump in the aftermath of the midterm elections, as the Republican Party performed far worse than expected. Some called the former president out by name for his part in the party’s lackluster performance, while others urged voters to look toward a fresh slate of candidates in the 2024 election.

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“[Trump’s] not going to have the financial support he had anymore, he’s not going to have the internal support that he had before,” said New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu at the conference. “Therefore, there’s opportunity there. That political weakness is blood in the water for some folks.”

The conference, which typically serves as an unofficial kickoff to the presidential primary season, featured a number of Republicans who have long been considered contenders for the party’s nomination should they run in 2024. And, despite Trump’s wishes, it seems as if the former president’s campaign announcement isn’t thwarting primary challengers.

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley announced she was considering a presidential run in a “serious way,” despite saying last year she would not seek a White House bid.

“A lot of people have asked if I’m gonna run for president. Now that the midterms are over, I’ll look at it in a serious way, and I’ll have more to say soon,” she said. “For now, I’ll say this. I’ve won tough primaries and tough general elections. I’ve been the underdog every single time. When people underestimate me, it’s always fun. But I’ve never lost an election. And I’m not gonna start now.”

Additionally, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis teased a 2024 bid, telling conference attendees he has “only begun to fight.” DeSantis, who just won reelection to a second term as Florida governor, is considered a top contender for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024.

“I can tell you this: We’ve got a lot more to do,” he said over the weekend.

Trump is the first Republican to announce his intent to run for the White House in 2024, launching his bid at his Mar-a-Lago home on Tuesday. The early announcement was made in part to shoo off a crowded field of challengers, as Republicans have previously shied away from challenging the former president directly.

While several of Trump’s most loyal supporters have already endorsed the former president as the GOP nominee, others have remained quiet — either insisting it’s too early to endorse a candidate or avoiding the question altogether.

“I really do believe that’s a decision for the American people,” said former Vice President Mike Pence, who is said to be considering a 2024 run. “I’ll keep you posted on whether I’m going to run or not. But I do think we’ll have better choices.”

However, some have questioned the strength of Trump’s candidacy, hinting at a new generation of leadership.

“He’ll still be a player, but he’ll just be one of a dozen. He’s not clearing the field by any means,” Sununu said. “If you’re a former president and you’re not clearing the field, what the hell are you doing?”

Meanwhile, others have directly challenged Trump’s candidacy, urging voters to move on if they want the Republican Party to win in 2024.

“His ego is so badly bruised from what he knows is true — he knows he lost to Joe Biden. He doesn’t believe the stuff that he’s saying. He knows he lost to him. And his ego has not been able to withstand it,” Chris Christie told the Washington Examiner. “A lot of his conduct since Election Day 2020 has been a product of that inability to deal with the reality of having lost. I really don’t think that the American people want a president who sees himself as a victim.”

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However, moving on from Trump is easier said than done, as some Republicans have acknowledged.

“There are some voices in Washington who want him magically to disappear and ride off into the sunset,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who ran against Trump for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016. “That’s not realistic. He has a voice. He has a powerful voice, and he’s going to use it.”

Cruz declined to say whether he plans to launch another White House bid in 2024, but the Texas senator is considered to be another top contender should he decide to run.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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