Will the Next Republican Candidate Please Stand Up? | Sarah Stook
In 2024, the 60th Presidential Election will occur. Assuming that President Trump will stand again in 2020 (we have had no reason to believe in the contrary), it will be another seven years before Americans will head to the ballot box to pick their Republican nominee. Harold Wilson once said that ‘a week is a long time in politics,’ and it seems like it will those seven years will feel like a millennium.
Many have their picks for the Democrats in 2020- Cory Booker and Kamala Harris being popular names- but not many have thought long term about who the Republican delegates will confirm at the National Convention. Here, we will discuss the likely candidates and what they can bring to the Republican Party.
NB: The number in brackets is the age the candidate will on the 5th November 2024
Mike Pence (65) – Current VP of the United States, Former Governor and Congressman of Indiana
Many VP candidates run for office once their term in that role has ended or even in their own right after their President has died or resigned. It would therefore be no surprise if Mike Pence decides to run, having served one or two terms in the second highest office in the land. Already a VP, Congressman and Governor, Pence would definitely not be short of experience.
‘A Christian, conservative and Republican, in that order,’ Mike Pence is definitely the stereotype of the conservative movement in his religion, mannerisms and ideology. Enacting large tax cuts in his home state of Indiana, as well cutting budgets, he proved himself not only a fiscal conservative, but a social conservative too, with his opposition to LGBT rights legislation and strictly pro-life agenda. Many critics decry the ‘pale, male and Yale’ stereotype of politics (especially amongst the Republican Party), and Pence ticks two of those boxes (he did not attend any Ivy League institutions). Generally, however, most will not care about that part of the politics.
Whilst Trump has been criticised for not being hugely conservative, Pence is quite the opposite, and many believe he was chosen as to pacify the concerned Republican higher-ups. Similar to 2016 candidates such as Ted Cruz, Pence is deeply conservative, a lot of it stemming from him being a born-again Christian. Many members of the Republican establishment- such as Senator John McCain and Speaker Paul Ryan- have broken away from Trump, though he enjoys grassroots support. Should Pence be elected, he may be able to reconcile the establishment with the people, considering he may have some leftover popularity as a Trump ally.
A likely candidate in theory, time will tell if Pence goes for the nomination.
Paul Ryan (54) – Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Congressman in Wisconsin
Paul Ryan has already got experience of being on a Presidential ticket, being Mitt Romney’s running mate in 2012. Unfortunately for Ryan, the overwhelming opinion was that Joe Biden crushed him during the VP debate, and coupled with other factors, the Republicans lost to the incumbent President Obama. Probably one of the most high profile Republicans, Ryan has the asset of a familiar name and clear set of values.
Though he may not be the ultra-conservative Pence is, Ryan, a member of the Catholic faith, is not far off. Unlike Pence, however, he has not chosen to ally himself with Trump. Ryan has distanced himself from Trump on a number of issues, such as the pardon of Joe Arpaio, earning himself the ire of the Trump fans everywhere. A typical Republican, Ryan tends to vote closely with the men and women on his side of the aisle, allying himself with the regular Republican. He is not hugely popular amongst Democrats, but trying to push him onto them would be preaching to the converted. In this case, it would be holding onto Trump’s gains and Republicans who are turned off by the 45th President.
As Ryan is fairly young and huge name in the party, the likelihood is again there. With his ideology set in stone- some may want to read his book ‘The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea’ to get an idea, the Republicans will know where they stand. He’s had presidential aspirations before, so we cannot totally rule him out.
Nikki Haley (52) – US Ambassador to the UN, Former Governor of and State Rep of South Carolina.
When rumours went around in 2012 that Mitt Romney was considering her to fill the VP slot, Nikki Haley said that she would reject any offers. An Indian-American who converted from Sikhism to Christianity upon marriage, Haley rejects the pale, male mould of the aforementioned candidates. Since she rejected the offer of VP, it may mean she has higher aspirations.
Haley, a strong supporter of immigration enforcement, represents to some the American Dream- the child of immigrants who worked hard in a new country. She is somewhat more liberal on certain standpoints, such as believing that transgender people should be able to use the bathroom of their gender identity, not biological sex. Furthermore, she eventually called for the removal of the Confederate flag on South Carolinian grounds. This would allow her to somewhat endear herself to more centrist views, and swing voters who may like having a tiny bit of progressive views mixed in with the definitely more conservative ones. Other than that, she shares many Republican standpoints.
Being UN Ambassador means huge foreign policy and international relations, and in these testing times, that will be beneficial to her. Haley, however, is often unpopular with those against neo-cons, many of whom believe that she is encouraging war against Iran and North Korea. As she doesn’t stray away from Republican beliefs, she will again allow the party to reconcile slightly. Though she was once attacked by Trump, as most top Republicans have been, the two are seemingly on good terms, which allows her to gain support from his base.
In terms of female candidates, Haley is probably one of the highest on the list, if not the highest.
Marco Rubio (53) – Congressman and Senator from Florida, 2016 Presidential Candidate
Given the derisive nickname ‘Little Marcio’ by Donald Trump during the primaries, he got ranked in third place behind the current President and Ted Cruz. Young and having made a name for himself in the primaries, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Rubio ran again.
A Hispanic Catholic, Rubio is deeply critical of the Cuban regime, as well as other left-wing dictatorships in South America. A Cuban-American whose parents moved from the country, and whose grandfather arrived back illegally after the Castro regime, he is outspoken on immigration issues. Rubio was part of the bipartisan ‘Gang of Eight’ who pushed for a bill which whilst strengthening borders, allowed for a fair portion of illegals to apply for citizenship. Amnesty is something contrary to many Republicans’ belief, so Rubio is a definite exception. Other than immigration, however, Rubio relies on his deep Catholic belief to influence policy. He is pro-life, even in cases of rape, and believes marriage should be defined as being between a man and a woman. Again, he is a mainstream Republican.
Though he has made no indication of 2024, it is still seven years away, so there is plenty of time for Rubio to make his views known. The Trump administration has not quietened the Florida Senator, but it seems that he has become more favourable of President 45. Has he truly boarded the Trump train, or is he trying to get support from the new base? Time will tell.
Ted Cruz (53) – Solicitor General and Senator of Texas, 2016 Presidential Candidate
The runner up of the 2016 Republican primaries, many believe that he would have won had Donald Trump not run. Similarly to Rubio, having been so close to winning, there is reason to believe that he won’t stop in 2016.
A Southern Baptist and son of a Cuban exile and American mother, Cruz is a deeply conservative man in the vein of VP Mike Pence. He rejects calls for the Republican Party to become more moderate in order to appeal to the public, and is not afraid of controversy. Despised by his colleagues in the Senate, he is not afraid of upsetting Democrat or Republican Senators. In his early days, he was supported by one Sarah Palin, showing off his strong popularity amongst Tea Partiers, people who he often allies himself against. His eligibility came into question when some took interest in him being born in Canada to only one American parent, but the confirmation he is eligible will help him in 2024.
Similar in his conservatism and ties to Cuba to Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz still has many years ahead of him in his political life. Beloved by the evangelicals and social conservatives, he may be able to benefit from the grey vote, something many politicians try to grab in order to win votes.
Rand Paul (61) – Senator for Kentucky and Presidential Candidate for 2016
Often overshadowed by his strongly libertarian, anti-interventionist and always outspoken father, the grumpy if sometimes brilliant Ron Paul, Rand Paul came fifth in the 2016 primaries. Though he hasn’t got the wealth of elected experience that others listed have, Rand Paul is a firm fixture in Republican politics.
A member of the Tea Party caucus, Paul is often libertarian. He is strictly against any forms of gun control, forcing vaccinations on children and believes in as low taxation as possible. Furthermore, he is one of the most prominent critics of neo-conservatism and very much against the polarising PATRIOT Act, passed soon after 9/11. With this, he may gain support from members of the Libertarian Party, many of whom are former Republicans or more favourable to the right. As well as this, research showed that he was popular amongst the young, whom the Republican party often struggle to connect with (see Bernie Sanders’ popularity with millennials).
Though he is a Constitutional conservative, his libertarian streak makes him all the more appealing to certain elements, giving him a broad base. He also has a huge asset in wife Kelley Paul, who is widely believed to be his secret weapon due to her confidence and canvassing skills. With the youth in his hand, he could do well, so long as he sticks to his guns.
Kelly Ayotte (56) – Former Senator and Attorney-General of New Hampshire
Narrowly defeated in 2016 for her re-elected bid (there were only about 1,000 votes in it), Ayotte may be new (well, not so new now) in the house, but she was already seen as a rising star, and most definitely made a name for herself.
Whilst traditionally conservative in matters such as abortion and tax cuts, she is far more liberal in some respects. Her definition of gun control is a lot broader than her colleagues, and she supports a variety of background checks in a way that others don’t. She respected the decision of New Hampshire to legalise gay marriage and also voted to expand social security to same-sex couples, one of only a handful of Republicans to do so. Ayotte is also very hawkish on foreign policy, criticising Obama for pulling troops out of Ira, believing there should be more sanctions on Iran and North Korea. Overall, her mixed policies can attract a number of demographics.
Though the gender point shouldn’t be important, having a female in the race will definitely shake things up. Ayotte has a really interesting range of views, attracting more moderate Republicans whilst gaining the interest of the neo-cons who miss the days of George W. Bush. Even though she lost her Senate seat, it was a close call, and she was a big name during her six years in the House.
In the end, whoever wins has a race on their hands. There could be an Obama candidate, or a status quo Republican candidate may win. We don’t know whether there will be a continuation of Trump’s policies, or if the ‘Washington Cartel’ will win back the crowd.
Either way, the most important thing is to hold onto what Trump gained. Similarly to Brexit, the forgotten and left behind finally had a voice. Whether or not you agree with Trump or Brexit, it is brilliant that the democratic process is finally adopting new members of society. The Republicans must not take these people for granted, but listen to them, make sure that they represent them as elected politicians. If they want to hold onto their newest converts, especially from the formerly Democratic Rust Belt, they must not forget.