GOP fears Redux 2016 as big names seek challenge for Trump

Despite a lukewarm response at best to former President Donald Trump announcing another run in the White House last week, Republicans could find themselves in a repeat of 2016 — with a crowded field in the 2024 presidential primary making it the 45th president , the nomination with only reclaim a variety of support.

Trump, 76, was one of 16 candidates bidding for the GOP nod in 2016 and surviving his competition despite receiving only about 45% of the popular primary.

About a dozen potential candidates — including former Trump loyalists like Nikki Haley — lined up at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual meeting in Las Vegas over the weekend.

Haley, who was ambassador to the United Nations under Trump, has previously said she would not run against her former boss if he runs. Now, with GOP voters and mega-donors seemingly moving away from the former president after his chosen candidates failed in the midterm elections, she’s followed suit.

“I’ve never lost an election, and I’m not going to start now,” Haley told an excited crowd.

People listen as former President Donald Trump speaks remotely at an annual leadership meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition.

GOP donor Eric Levine was at the conference to find out who he thinks should lead the party – and says it can’t be Trump.

“I don’t think we have the luxury of waiting,” he said. “If [Trump] becomes a Republican brand, the party will be destroyed.”

After a decisive re-election victory, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to take the field and run for president in 2024, with allies suggesting a formal announcement could come in spring 2023.

“In times like these, there is no substitute for victory,” DeSantis told the crowd.

“We still have work to do and I’ve only just started fighting,” the governor said.

Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks at an annual leadership meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition
Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks at an annual leadership meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition.

Other potential GOP candidates — like New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan — said it was too early to fret over a crowded field.

“I think more votes, more potential decisions,” Hogan said. “Trump needs to be tested. People have to go out there and be ready to stand up to him.”

“I don’t think anyone will listen to narrowing the field. Everyone will say, ‘I should be the guy, I should be the guy, we should all be the guy.’”

“I think we all understand how little impact he will have,” Sununu said of the 45th president. “He doesn’t scare anyone. If you want to run, you will run. It will be fun. It will be an open race.”

A photo of Andy Sabin.
Andy Sabin is a former Trump supporter who turned against him.
YouTube/Wow, that’s an angel

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, one of the 15 failed candidates of 2016, also said it was too early to narrow the field.

“Should we all rally behind someone? well who? I don’t think there’s an obvious choice,” said Christie, adding that he thinks seven or eight big names will be in the race before it’s all said and done.

Meanwhile, many key figures in the party still hope that Trump could simply resign.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is widely viewed as a presidential candidate.
AFP via Getty Images

GOP mega-donor Andy Sabin – who told the Post last week he has no intention of donating a “damn nickel” to Trump, said in a video message Monday that he thinks the former president should follow the advice of country Kenny Rogers must heed the legend.

“You need to know when to hold her, which you did. You need to know when to fold them, which you didn’t. And you have to know when to go away,” Sabin said. “President Trump, it’s time for you to go.”

With postal wires. GOP fears Redux 2016 as big names seek challenge for Trump


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