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FIRST ON FOX: The official starting gun of the next White House race will be fired in five months, after this year’s midterm elections.
But as we’ve repeatedly highlighted in the 15 months we’ve been writing this weekly column on all things 2024, the early moves in the upcoming presidential nomination campaign began well over a year ago and continue on a regular basis.
Not that you need it – but here’s more proof.
Fox News Digital has learned that four potential GOP White House hopefuls in the next cycle have placed paid ads in the Iowa GOP’s state convention tabloid – which lists the agenda for the state party’s June 11th gathering. The convention will draw some 1,500 Republican leaders, officials, activists and supporters in the state that has long played a crucial role in choosing the two major parties’ standard-bearers, as its caucuses for half a century have kicked off the presidential nominating calendar.
At the top of the list is former President Donald Trump, who 16 months removed from the White House remains the most popular and influential politician in the GOP as he repeatedly flirts with making another national run in 2024. Trump’s Save America PAC placed their large ad in the tabloid’s centerfold position.
Also paying to have their ads appear in the tabloid, which can be found on the Iowa GOP’s website, are former Trump Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, through his CAVPAC; and Sens. Rick Scott of Florida and Tim Scott of South Carolina, through their Senate reelection committees.
Scott, Haley, Cotton Iowa bound
Sen. Tim Scott will be back in Iowa on Thursday, to speak at the Iowa GOP’s Cedar Rapids Reception.
Scott, the only Black Republican in the Senate and a rising star in the party, will team up with Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa at the gathering.
“Senator Tim Scott is a man of integrity and has a story every American should hear,” longtime Iowa GOP chair Jeff Kaufmann told Fox News Digital. “At this pivotal moment for our country, it’s never been more important for Iowans to hear from Senator Scott and I am honored to have him join us in Cedar Rapids.”
Scott’s trips over the past year to Iowa and New Hampshire – which for a century’s held the first presidential primary in the nominating calendar – have sparked speculation about his possible national ambitions.
Scott, who’s running for reelection in the reliably red state of South Carolina, has consistently downplayed any talk about a possible 2024 White House run. The senator told Fox News last year that his “only objective is to be the United States senator for the great state of South Carolina.” But Scott added that the 2022 race will be his last Senate campaign.
Former South Carolina two-term Gov. Nikki Haley, who’s also considered a possible 2024 presidential contender, heads back to Iowa at the end of the month.
Haley, who served as ambassador to the United Nations during the first two years of the Trump administration, will headline the Iowa GOP’s regional reception in Dubuque on June 29. The following day she’ll headline Republican Rep. Randy Feenstra’s annual Family Picnic fundraiser in Sioux Center, which is located in the heavily conservative northwest corner of the state.
And the Story County, Iowa GOP announced this past week that Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas will headline their annual Judge Joseph Story dinner and fundraiser on July 7. Cotton has made multiple trips to Iowa, New Hampshire and the other early voting states so far this cycle.
Longtime Republican strategist Alex Conant recently told Fox News that “clearly anyone who’s going to Iowa or New Hampshire right now wants to be president. By going now, they’re keeping the option to run open.”
“If you want to run for president, you need to be laying the groundwork right now,” Conant, a veteran of three GOP presidential campaigns, noted. “That doesn’t guarantee that you will be running for president but since the field is potentially very open and very competitive, it’s important to get started early.”
DeSantis tops Trump again
For a second straight year, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has edged Trump among at the Western Conservative Summit 2024 straw poll.
Attendees at the conference – organized by the Centennial Institute, a think tank associated with Colorado Christian University – approved of a potential DeSantis candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination at 71%, with Trump coming in at 67%.
The straw poll was conducted based on an “approval” system, which allowed attendees to vote for more than one candidate that they could support.
DeSantis also edged Trump last month in a straw poll among those attending the Wisconsin Republican Convention.
DeSantis has seen his popularity surge among Republican voters in his state and around the nation over the past two years, thanks in large part to his combative pushback against COVID-19 restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic as well as his aggressive actions in the culture wars.
DeSantis regularly comes in second to the former president in most of the early public opinion polls in the 2024 Republican presidential nomination race.