by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The coronavirus will not just play a leading role in deciding whether President Trump gains reelection, it could help decide which of the Republicans angling to succeed him will seize the GOP nomination in four years.
Republican voters in 2020 are getting a good look at how these potential candidates are dealing with the biggest national crisis of the last four years.
“It’s really a long way off,” said one GOP operative. “But it’s a good chance to make a first impression.”
Already well positioned to seek the 2024 GOP presidential nomination as Trump’s number two, Vice President Mike Pence is running the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
“He is doing a great job leading the president’s pandemic White House response,” said Bradley Blakeman, a former aide to President George W. Bush. “He is clearly a rock star when it comes to leading America through troubled water with competence and compassion.” …
… Pence has a lot riding on Trump’s political fortunes in any event. If Trump is reelected, the vice president will be a heavy favorite for the 2024 nomination.
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley is another Trump administration star seen as harboring presidential ambitions. Almost alone among top-tier Republicans, she was critical of the coronavirus rescue package. “DON’T bail out individual industries, pick winners and losers, or pass a bloated stimulus package,” she tweeted, though she allowed for spending mostly targeted at “small and medium-sized companies.” To illustrate her point, Haley promptly resigned from the board of Boeing, a large company that requested federal assistance. …
… Tom Cotton, the Republican senator from Arkansas, has, since the pandemic began, pressed the president’s populist pitch against China more than Trump has and been credited with taking the coronavirus seriously even earlier.
Follow Carolina Journal Online’s continuing coverage of the 2020 election. You’ll find the latest stories here.