A handful of Republican members of Congress have already backed former President Donald Trump’s presumptive Oval Office bid in 2024 – while others are keeping their opinions to themselves, according to a new report.
Out of at least 12 House and Senate GOP leaders who spoke with Politico this week, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) offered the strongest backing for the 45th president.
“I support President Trump running in 2024,” the No. 3 House Republican told the outlet.
Two others – House Republican Conference Secretary Richard Hudson of North Carolina and Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Banks of Indiana – also indicated they would get behind Trump if and when he decides to launch a third consecutive presidential run.
“If President Trump runs, he has my support,” said Banks, who added: “And he helps draw out Trump voters which helps us win in November in the midterm … He’s more popular than he’s ever been before.”
Trump has yet to formally announce whether he plans to run in 2024. However, he’s all but said in recent months that he plans to do so.
Earlier this month, the former president told New York magazine that he has made his decision and all that remains is to decide the timing.
“Well, in my own mind, I’ve already made that decision, so nothing factors in anymore. In my own mind, I’ve already made that decision,” he said.
“I would say my big decision will be whether I go before or after,” Trump added. “You understand what that means?”
While Trump was long expected to make his announcement after the November elections, recent reports have indicated that he might reveal his decision before. Many Republicans are hoping he resists the urge to jump in for a few more months.
“I hope he waits until after the midterms to make a decision,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) told Politico.
“There’s a verse in the Bible [Matthew 6:34] that says, ‘sufficient unto the day as the evil thereof.’ So I’m not going to worry about what could happen in the future,” he added.
Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-SD) told the outlet that “anybody that wants to run for office in ‘24 ought to have [the midterms] as their principal focus and if they want to announce.”
“I’m focused on this election,” added House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
“Let’s get through November,” House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) agreed. “I’m sure there’ll be a lot of talk about 2024 right after that.”
Some Republicans have tried to duck the question of whether they’ll endorse Trump by deferring to the GOP primary electorate.
“It’s up to our voters to decide,” said Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa). “I’ve heard a lot of people that really want to look at some fresh blood. I’m sure we’ll have some of the same folks engaging in the opportunity. It’s an open opportunity for everyone.”
As Trump carries the baggage of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, the subsequent investigation by the House select committee, two impeachments, and other legal threats – other Republicans have indicated that more of their colleagues could try to join the 2024 fray.
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) told Politico that as of now, “there are eight senators who are thinking about running.”
“He was more of a blank slate back then. As in any candidate, you pick up good and bad as you’re serving. And so he’s going to have that dimension that he didn’t have before,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) told Politico of Trump. “2024 is a raw opportunity for the presidency to switch parties, so there’s gonna be a lot of fighting for that.”
Despite early hints at supporting other candidates, few Republican leaders have actively voiced their opposition to Trump running – keeping their options open as a potential announcement date nears.