While former President Donald Trump remains a commanding force within the GOP over a year after departing office, his provocative demeanor has led some in the GOP to argue he shouldn’t get the party’s nod for the 2024 presidential election.
High-profile Republicans have been splintered over whether he should run, with a few outright spurning a second Trump stint, others actively courting it, and some sidestepping the question.
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Here is a look at what some of the leading Republicans have said about a second term of Trump in the White House.
Bring it on
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
Once one of Trump’s loudest critics, Graham eventually transformed into a key ally of the former president, often playing rounds of golf with him behind the scenes and lauding his policy achievements in public.
Graham recently declared he would be “shocked” if Trump didn’t run again, and last year, he told a leadership conference for the Michigan Republican Party that he hoped Trump would seek the presidency in 2024.
“I don’t think Trump is listening. He might be. I hope President Trump runs again,” he said.
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL)
Gaetz is an avid backer of the former president, even teasing he could carry the “MAGA” mantle if Trump decides not to run.
“I support Donald Trump for president. I’ve directly encouraged him to run, and he gives me every indication he will,” Gaetz told the New York Post. “If Trump doesn’t run, I’m sure I could defeat whatever remains of Joe Biden by 2024.”
Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL)
Following Trump’s 2020 electoral defeat at the hands of President Joe Biden, Scott told Fox Business host Stuart Varney that Trump “had a good four years” and “ought to do it again,” Florida Politics reported.
Scott’s remarks came before the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and the rise of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. But Trump appears to look upon Scott quite favorably, reportedly nudging him to become the No. 1 Republican in the Senate.
Would support if he ran
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)
During a bitter primary battle against Trump in 2016, Sen. Marco Rubio once warned Trump would do “damage to America,” but now, he would back a third Trump bid for the White House.
“If Donald Trump is going to run for president in 2024, he’ll be the Republican nominee, and of course, I would support him in that,” Rubio told WPTV last year.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
Trump has not minced words about his disdain for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who denounced Trump’s actions preceding the Capitol riot as a “disgraceful dereliction of duty.” Nevertheless, the senator said he would “absolutely” support him if he clinched the nod.
“I think the Biden administration is making it easy for us to get together,” McConnell said last February.
Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC)
A speculated 2024 contender in his own right, Scott has voiced unease with Trump on certain topics, such as race, but told the Post and Courier of South Carolina that he would “of course” support Trump in 2024.
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Discouraging a run
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL)
Rep. Adam Kinzinger has made no secret about his animosity toward Trump, expressing regret for voting for him and backing the second effort to impeach him for the events surrounding the Jan. 6 riot. In April, the congressman toyed with the idea of challenging Trump in a 2024 Republican primary.
“I would love it. I really would,” Kinzinger said about primarying Trump. “Even if he crushed me, like in a primary, to be able to stand up and call out the garbage is just a necessary thing, regardless of who it is.”
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson
While praising some of the policy achievements of the Trump presidency, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said last month he believes the party should choose someone other than Trump.
“I’ve made it clear: I think we ought to have a different direction in the future,” he said.
Former Attorney General William Barr
Barr went through the wringer with Trump and has since bashed the former president in his recent book and media interviews. He has warned the party against nominating Trump in 2024.
“Trump is not that man,” Barr told the Washington Examiner earlier this month. “He does not have the capacity to win the kind of transformative election. He may have been, historically, a necessary figure, and I give him all credit for bringing to a screeching halt the progressive march that occurred under the Obama administration and threatened the country going forward with Hillary Clinton.”
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan
As one of the most popular governors in the country, Hogan’s own 2024 aspirations have been called into question. He has also emerged as a leading critic of Trump within the GOP, arguing the former president should not seek another term.
“I think it would be bad for the [Republican] Party, bad for President Trump, and bad for the country,” Hogan told Fox News’s Brett Baier last December.
Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY)
Rep. Liz Cheney has become one of the fiercest Republican voices against Trump for his actions after the 2020 election. As one of only two Republicans on the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot, she said Trump is “clearly unfit for future office [and] clearly can never be anywhere near the Oval Office ever again.”
“I would not,” the Republican said last year when asked whether she’d back Trump.
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT)
When Trump first clinched the Republican nod in 2016, nearly all living Republican nominees for president declined to endorse him. Among them was Sen. Mitt Romney, who voted for his wife instead. His unabashed denunciation of Trump relegated him to pariah status within many circles, but Romney has remained unwavering in his stance on Trump.
“I would not be voting for President Trump again,” he said last year. “I haven’t voted for him in the past. And I would probably be getting behind somebody who I thought more represented the tiny wing of the Republican Party that I represent.”
Rep. Tom Rice (R-SC)
The Palmetto State recently punished Rice for voting to impeach Trump for his actions related to Jan. 6. Rice has been clear about his disapproval of the former president’s conduct and believes he is bad news for the party.
“I think he’s harmful to the Republican Party,” Rice said to NBC. “I’m not saying I would vote for the other side, but the only way I would support him is if he apologized to the country for what he did following the election and leading up to Jan. 6.”
Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE)
Trump is not bringing home the bacon with at least one Nebraska congressman.
“We have to also learn the lesson, ‘Why did we lose in 2020?’ It was the comportment and the temperament, and yes, a democracy respects elections. And our president should have respected the conclusion,” he said last week. “I’ll be looking for other candidates.”
“He’s not going to be my choice in the primary, that’s for sure,” he added.
The former president, who has trampled primary competition in poll after poll and behind the scenes, is reportedly mulling an early entrance into the fray.
While Trump has been enthusiastic in his criticism of his successor, Biden appears eager for a rematch, saying he’d run in 2024 — “especially” if his opponent were Trump.