by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Prospective 2024 Republican presidential candidates are starting to choose where they stand on former President Donald Trump going forward in the aftermath of his second impeachment, a key question they will all need to answer.
Up first was Nikki Haley, who served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under Trump and is also a former governor of South Carolina. She distanced herself from her old boss in an interview last week, at a time when many Republican elected officials are facing censure or possible primary challenges for breaking with the man who has come to define the party for the last four years.
“We need to acknowledge that he let us down,” Haley said. “He went down a path he shouldn’t have, and we shouldn’t have followed him, and we shouldn’t have listened to him. And we can’t let that ever happen again.”
But that is not the bet other potential GOP aspirants are making.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has channeled Trump’s populism on immigration and Big Tech while contrasting his management of the pandemic with New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s. DeSantis has trained his fire on President Biden, whose administration reportedly has mused about travel restrictions to Florida related to COVID-19. …
… Sen. Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican who unsuccessfully sought the party’s presidential nomination in 2016, led the charge on what became the top Trump impeachment defense. He challenged the Senate’s power to try a former president. All but a handful of GOP senators agreed with him. Paul has not told associates he is planning a second presidential bid but has said someone from the libertarian wing of the party should run. Both he and DeSantis are up for reelection next year.