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WASHINGTON (AP) — Less than three months after former President Donald Trump left the White House, the race to succeed him atop the Republican Party is already beginning.
Trump’s former secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, has launched an aggressive schedule, visiting states that will play a pivotal role in the 2024 primaries, and he has signed a contract with Fox News Channel. Mike Pence, Trump’s former vice president, has started a political advocacy group, finalized a book deal and later this month will give his first speech since leaving office in South Carolina. And Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has been courting donors, including in Trump’s backyard, with a prominent speaking slot before the former president at a GOP fundraising retreat dinner this month at Mar-a-Lago, the Florida resort where Trump now lives.
Trump ended his presidency with such a firm grip on Republican voters that party leaders fretted he would freeze the field of potential 2024 candidates, delaying preparations as he teased another run. Instead, many Republicans with national ambitions are openly laying the groundwork for campaigns as Trump continues to mull his own plans.
They’re raising money, making hires and working to bolster their name recognition. The moves reflect both the fervor in the party to reclaim the White House and the reality that mounting a modern presidential campaign is a yearslong endeavor.
“You build the ark before it rains,” said Michael Steel, a Republican strategist who worked for Jeb Bush’s presidential 2016 campaign, among others. “They’re going to do the things they need to do if he decides not to run.”
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