The race is on to discover which Republican will challenge Incumbent President Joe Biden in the 2024 presidential election. The Republican primary elections will start Jan. 15 which means that candidates have already started debating, campaigning and raising money. 

Republican candidates appear at the first primary debate. (Photo: Politico)

The frontrunner seems to be former President Donald Trump, promising a rematch of the 2020 elections. However, Trump skipped the first primary debate, hosted by Fox News, in favor of an interview with Tucker Carlson, the ex-Fox News host who was fired in April. “The public already knows who I am & what a successful [p]residency I had,” said Trump on the conservative social media platform Truth Social, explaining his decision to skip. It is unclear whether he’ll participate in future primary debates, however. One requirement for participating in the debate was signing a “loyalty pledge” promising to support whoever the eventual Republican nominee is. The Hill reports that Trump refused to sign it, worrying the Republican National Committee.

With Trump missing from the debate stage the frontrunner was Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. DeSantis has raised his national profile in the past year by being the conservative face of culture wars in Florida. He signed a bill banning abortions after six weeks and put restrictions in classrooms in a bill opponents call the “Don’t Say Gay” Bill. However, despite his high profile, he’s struggled to raise enough money to finance a large-scale campaign and was forced to downsize it, CNN reports.

Vivek Ramaswamy has had an astonishing rise from an unknown candidate to third place in the polls. The biotech entrepreneur has spent less money on conventional advertising than most of his opponents, opting instead for hours of appearances on radio stations, podcasts, and online platforms, Politico reports. However, he has recently come under fire for his conspiracy theories about the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and he was booed at the debate for denying climate change.

Trump is competing with many people from his own staff, including former Vice President Mike Pence and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, who Trump appointed to UN Ambassador.

South Carolina Senator Tim Scott has refrained from most culture war controversies, promising a more traditional Republican candidate. The New York Times reports Scott has used optimistic messaging and appealed to Christian voters in Iowa, where the first primary caucus will be held. However, his moderate stance may not be helpful in a primary election.

Others running on the Republican side include former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who also ran in the 2016 primary, North Carolina Governor Doug Burgum, and Trump critic and former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson.

There are also some Democrats challenging Biden for the nomination, though none of them are polling well enough to pose a real challenge to his reelection campaign. Author Marianne Williamson announced her bid in March. She also ran in the 2020 primaries, though she quickly dropped out. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. had a surprisingly strong start in the polls, The Week reports, but he lost support as his famous family members refrained from supporting him and Democrats found out about his anti-vaccine stance.

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