The 2024 Republican presidential field is rapidly shrinking. But is it too late to stop Trump?

by Lucas Garcia
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2024 Republican Presidential Race

The field of Republican candidates for the 2024 presidential election has significantly narrowed, leaving few contenders in the race. This development follows the unexpected suspension of Senator Tim Scott’s campaign from South Carolina. Despite this, it remains uncertain if the Republican Party is any closer to uniting behind a single candidate to challenge former President Donald Trump. The competition for second place is becoming increasingly fierce, particularly between Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis. Other candidates, although less prominent, continue their campaigns amid increasing calls to withdraw.

Trump’s campaign is observing the ongoing struggle for the runner-up position with interest, especially with the Iowa caucuses approaching on January 15. Despite the competitive environment, Monday brought encouraging news for Haley. Stanley Druckenmillier, a billionaire investor and previous supporter of Scott, publicly endorsed Haley. He expressed a desire for the Republican field to consolidate in support of Haley against Trump before primary voting commences.

However, Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida shows no intention of exiting the race. His spokesperson, Andrew Romeo, sees a new opportunity in Iowa, especially with the withdrawal of Scott and former Vice President Mike Pence. Romeo highlighted DeSantis’ appeal to religious conservatives in Iowa, citing his stance on abortion and LGBTQ rights. Recently, DeSantis secured a significant endorsement from Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds.

The intensity of the Haley-DeSantis rivalry highlights the rapid reduction of the Republican field compared to the 2016 primaries. The 2024 primary season started with eight candidates, and now only four are expected to qualify for the next debate in Alabama: Haley, DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy, and former New Jersey Governor Christie. Other candidates like North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum and former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson remain in the race but did not qualify for the last debate.

Trump’s team, meanwhile, appears to relish the conflict between Haley and DeSantis. Trump remains the clear front-runner, and his campaign believes Haley may gain the most in the short term from Scott’s departure but also believes Trump will maintain his substantial lead. Trump’s campaign recently highlighted Haley’s plan to invest $10 million in advertising in Iowa and New Hampshire to gain an edge over DeSantis.

Senator Tim Scott’s exit from the presidential race came as a surprise to many, including his staff. He announced his decision during a Fox News interview and later explained to his staff that primary voters seemed hesitant to support a candidate other than Trump. Scott, known for his optimism and positive messaging, particularly in Iowa, found it challenging to gain traction against rising figures like DeSantis and Haley.

Eric Levine, a Republican fundraiser and critic of Trump who recently supported Scott, commended Scott for stepping aside and declared his support for Haley. However, Devin O’Malley, a Republican communications strategist and advisor to Pence’s campaign, cautions that a unified front against Trump could lead to a more contentious battle, potentially overwhelming the remaining candidates.

This report comes from correspondents in New York and Des Moines, Iowa.

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