Who could follow Trump? Here are the top five GOP contenders for 2024

Who could follow Trump? Here are the top five GOP contenders for 2024
Ted Cruz via Gage Skidmore, Tom Cotton via Michael Vadon.
The threat of right-wing theocracy has raised its ugly head once again

President Donald Trump's dark cloud may remain over the Republican Party for years to come but there are a number of leaders and lawmakers within the party who may be looking to emerge as conservative frontrunners ahead of the 2024 presidential election. The Hill has offered a detailed breakdown of the top five Republicans who could be at the forefront of the party by 2024.

Former North Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R): Not only is Haley an experienced politician but she was also appointed as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations under the Trump administration. According to the publication, there is an "easy" case to justify Haley possibly running for president in 2024 simply because she is "cut from more conventional ideological cloth than the president, as a mainstream, pro-business Republican."

It's easy to make the case for Haley: Her role in the Trump administration aligns her with the president and gives her some good will with his supporters. At the same time, she has other assets that could appeal to the kind of well-educated suburbanites who turned against Trump with decisive effect in November.

Although some of Trump's fierce supporters have been apprehensive about Haley, the publication believes she would still be a strong contender for the Republican Party.

Vice President Mike Pence (R): For several months, there has been speculation that Pence would run for president. Following Election Day, Pence made more of an effort to watch his words and steer clear of Trump's post-presidential legal battle. While it is possible for Pence to emerge as the 2024 Republican presidential candidate due to the position he holds now and his close affiliation to Trump, he could be faced with challenges to gain conservative voters.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) As a deeply conservative lawmaker, Cotton, a U.S. Army veteran who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, is positioned to be a frontrunner for right-wing voters. The Hill also highlights how Cotton holds controversial views on key issues plaguing the country. Amid nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd, Cotton penned a controversial editorial published by the New York Times.

His views on race have stoked controversy, however. A furor followed the publication of a New York Times op-ed he wrote in June, amid protests over the killing of George Floyd, headlined "Send in the Troops." In it, Cotton called for "an overwhelming show of force to disperse, detain and ultimately deter lawbreakers."

However, his rigid views would likely be welcomed by conservatives.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) Despite being publicly lambasted by Trump on multiple occasions, he has been a fierce supporter of the embattled president despite his stark disapproval of him during his 2016 presidential run. Although deeply conservative supporters of the Republican Party had doubts about Trump's ability to stand firmly on the right-wing foundation, there is no doubt that Cruz "would be built on the same pillars as his initial run" which emphasized the principles and beliefs of conservatism.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.): Hawley is likely the most recent Republican lawmaker to jump on the Trump bandwagon. Just days ago, Hawley announced that he would be challenging the election results. The publication reports that if Trump opts to pass on running again in 2024, Hawley could be "well-placed to take his populist mantle" as he has been "broadly supportive of Trump's protectionist trade policies."

Could Trump really be willing to step aside in 2024 to give another Republican candidate the opportunity to fight for the White House? With Trump's unpredictable nature, his post-presidential plans remain unclear.

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