After more than a year and a half of early moves in the 2024 presidential election cycle, the starting gun in the next White House race fires immediately after Tuesday’s midterm elections.
"There have been a half dozen or more Republicans who have been circling around the midterms as a pretense for running for president – road testing some messaging," longtime GOP consultant David Kochel, a veteran of dozens of Iowa political campaigns, told Fox News.
And former New Hampshire attorney general and longtime GOP consultant Tom Rath noted that "we’re already a quarter of the way around the  track."
One of the biggest and expected moves in the next White House race could happen almost immediately.
Sources in former President Donald Trump’s political orbit tell Fox News that a potential 2024 announcement could possibly occur during the week starting on Monday, Nov. 14 — just a week after the midterms. But the sources caution that things are "fluid."
Axios on Friday reported that Trump and his political team are eyeing Nov. 14 as a possible launch date for a potential 2024 presidential campaign, which would be followed by a string of political events. A source in Trump's political orbit waved Fox News off the actual date of Nov. 14 but added "that week is being looked at, but it’s all fluid."
Kochel, a veteran of numerous presidential campaigns, said that if the latest reporting on the former president comes to fruition, "Trump is going to push his chips on the table within a week or two after the midterms and then we’re off to the races."
Trump has been constantly flirting with making another presidential run since leaving the White House in January 2021. At rallies across the nation in support of his endorsed GOP candidates in recent months, Trump has discussed the potential for a 2024 run and has repeatedly said, "I may have to do it again."The former president has also repeatedly made unproven claims that his 2020 election loss to now-President Biden was due to "massive voter fraud."
The former president amped up his 2024 language during a rally Thursday in Iowa, the state whose caucuses for half a century have kicked off the presidential nominating calendar. "I will very, very, very probably do it again, OK? Very, very, very probably," Trump said at the rally in Sioux City, located in the deep red northwestern corner of Iowa. "Get ready. That’s all I’m telling you. Very soon. Get ready. Get ready."
Nearly two years after his re-election defeat, Trump remains hands-down the most popular and influential politician in the Republican Party, and the most ferocious fundraiser who holds sway over grassroots donors. And poll after poll indicates that Trump would start out as the overwhelming front-runner for the GOP nomination.
However, Trump's standing in the GOP and repeated 2024 teasing hasn't kept other potential Republican White House hopefuls from making moves toward launching presidential campaigns.
Former Vice President Mike Pence; former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; former South Carolina governor and former ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley; Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Ted Cruz of Texas; and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan are among the possible White House hopefuls who have made multiple trips to Iowa and the other early-voting primary and caucus states over the past year and a half.
Besides a potential Trump announcement, the week after the midterms will also see the first real Republican 2024 cattle calls.
Up first is the Republican Governors Association’s annual winter meeting, which is being held this year near Orlando, Florida. Among those attending who have said they’re mulling a White House bid or who are viewed by political prognosticators as potential contenders are Govs. Ron DeSantis of Florida, Glenn Youngkin of Virginia, Larry Hogan of Maryland, and Kristi Noem of South Dakota, as well as Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, and Pete Ricketts of Nebraska.
GET READY FOR THE FIRST MAJOR 204 GOP PRESIDENTIAL CATTLE CALL
At the end of the week, as first reported by Fox News late last month, a dozen GOP politicians whom pundits view as potential or likely contenders for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, will attend the Republican Jewish Coalition’s (RJC) annual leadership meeting in Las Vegas.
The twelve are Pence, Pompeo, Haley, Cotton, Cruz, Sens. Rick Scott of Florida, Tim Scott of South Carolina, and Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, DeSantis, Hogan, Sununu, and former Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey.
Pointing to Trump, Kochel noted that "he’s clearly the heavyweight. He’s the big foot in the field."
But he added that the former president "is not going to clear the field. He’s going to accelerate people’s timelines for deciding whether they go or not go. I think you’ll have some people who say they won’t run because Trump’s in. He’s going to have one or more serious challengers who are going to make a run at him."
And Kochel said "I would imagine by the end of the first quarter of 2023 we’ll probably know who’s really going to get in."
Rath, also a veteran of numerous Republican presidential campaigns, predicted that "I think there’s going to be somebody who we’re not looking at now who emerges because there’s an opportunity. They have a window of three to six months to make that decision."
When 2022 collides with 2024 in NH
New Hampshire is a key general election battleground state with crucial Senate race between former governor and first-term Dem. Sen. Maggie Hassan and GOP nominee and former general Don Bolduc that’s one of a handful across the country that will likely determine if the Republicans win back the chamber’s majority. And the state’s two congressional districts are considered competitive — especially the very swingy First District — and the winners in both those races will impact whether the Democrats are able to hold onto their razor-thin majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.
But New Hampshire is also the state that for a century’s held the first presidential primary in the White House race, and the Granite State’s seen plenty of traffic this cycle by out-of-state politicians who may harbor national ambitions in the 2024 election cycle. That traffic has intensified in recent days.
Haley returns to New Hampshire on Sunday to campaign with Bolduc. It’s Haley’s third trip to the Granite State in the past six weeks to team up with her party’s U.S. Senate nominee in New Hampshire.
On Wednesday, conservative talk radio host Larry Elder trekked to New Hampshire to team up on the campaign trail with GOP congressional nominee Karoline Leavitt, who’s challenging Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas in the First District. Elder, who was the top GOP vote getter in last year’s unsuccessful gubernatorial recall election in California, says he’s mulling a run for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination and promised plenty of return trips to New Hampshire and Iowa, where he also recently stopped.
While he wasn’t in New Hampshire in person, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whom pundits view as a possible Republican presidential hopeful, endorsed Bolduc this past week and put his name on a fundraising email for the Senate nominee. Ditto for Sen. Tim Scott, who endorsed Bolduc and whose aligned PAC spent six-figures to boost the GOP Senate nominee. And Sen Rick Scott, the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, stopped in New Hampshire last weekend to team up with Bolduc.
As for the Democrats, Hassan is getting some high profile help this weekend from three Democrats who ran for the party’s 2020 presidential nomination and may possibly run again in 2024 if President Biden decides against seeking a second term.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the progressive champion, made the short trip on Friday from Massachusetts to New Hampshire to campaign with Hassan at the University of New Hampshire in Durham. And U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota — who came in second and third in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary in New Hampshire — join Hassan on the Granite State campaign trail on Sunday.
Hogan trolling Biden
President Biden will be in Maryland on the eve of the election, headlining a Democratic National Committee rally in Columbia, Maryland.
Larry Hogan, the term-limited Republican governor of the heavily blue state, plans to bracket Biden’s visit with a video spotlighting the governor’s achievements and criticizing Biden’s presidency. Hogan political advisers say they plan to showcase the video as they geofence the DNC’s rally headlined by Biden.
"After two years of failed policies, the exhausted majority of Americans aren’t buying Joe Biden’s campaign rhetoric and are demanding change," said David Weinman, executive director of the Hogan aligned public advocacy group An America United.
"While the President is in our state, we hope he gets the opportunity to hear from Marylanders about how Governor Hogan has already shown a better path forward by turning the economy around, bringing people together, and leading with common sense."