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With five months to go until the starting gun in the race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, a veteran party strategist and social conservative leader says the potential field of GOP contenders could end up being the strongest in modern times.
“I’m thrilled at the people who may run… certainly in terms of the bench available, I think it’s hard not to argue that it’s the strongest potential field in the modern history of the Republican Party,” Ralph Reed, the chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, told Fox News.
Reed, a well-known and veteran political consultant who in the 1990s steered the Christian Coalition, was interviewed a few days ago, on the eve of his group’s annual “Road to the Majority” conference, which was held this year in Nashville, Tennessee.
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The Faith and Freedom Coalition – a public advocacy group founded over a decade ago by Reed – advocates for social conservative positions and its annual confab attracts thousands of Republican and conservative leaders, strategists, activists and evangelical voters.
And this year it attracted a handful top Republicans who are considered potential 2024 contenders. Among them were former President Donald Trump; former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who served as ambassador to the United Nations during the Trump administration; former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a former congressman from Kansas who served as CIA director and America’s top diplomat under Trump; Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, another rising star in the GOP, and Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, a former two-term governor and current chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
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Looking at the potential GOP 2024 field – which also includes former Vice President Mike Pence, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, and many more who are allied with the faith and family movement – Reed said, “it’s an embarrassment of riches and we’re honored and humbled and thrilled to have so many of them at this conference.”
Trump ridicules Pence at Faith and Freedom confab
Trump pilloried his former vice president at his high-profile speech Friday evening at the Faith and Freedom confab, as he attacked Pence for failing to overturn the 2020 election results as Congress certified now-President Biden’s Electoral College victory amid a deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol by right wing extremists aiming to disrupt the proceedings.
Trump had repeatedly urged Pence to forsake his Constitutional duties and refuse to certify an election that the former president to this day charges – without providing concrete proof – was riddled with “massive voter fraud,” “rigged,” and “stolen.”
“Mike Pence had a chance to be great. He had a chance to be historic,” Trump said the day after the House Select Committee investigating the attack on the Capitol spotlighted the intense verbal and physical pressure the then president and some of his allies who stormed the Capitol put on Pence to overturn the results. “Mike did not have the courage to act…Mike was afraid of whatever he was afraid of.”
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And Trump made his comments in front of a sea of social conservatives, who for years had viewed Pence as one of their biggest champions.
Pence was invited but missed the conference for the first time in years, with the official reason a scheduling conflict. Pence was in Ohio on Friday for events with GOP Gov. Mike DeWine. Last year while speaking at the confab, some in the audience booed Pence and called him a “traitor,” which instantly grabbed national headlines.
Reed, who is close to both Pence and Trump, told reporters following the former president’s speech that “if Mike Pence wanted to come and wanted to offer a rejoinder to these folks, he could have done it. I’m not saying he should have done it. I told him when I saw him a couple weeks ago, no harm no foul, but I said I want you here next year and he’ll be there.”
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Cotton holds 2024 meeting
Two sources in Sen. Tom Cotton’s political orbit confirm to Fox News that the Arkansas Republican and Iraq War combat veteran met with top donors and advisers Tuesday morning at the Hay Adams hotel in downtown Washington D.C.
The sources shared that Cotton said he wouldn’t defer to any other potential candidate – including former President Trump – when it comes to his own decision about launching a national campaign. And Cotton said that decision on whether to run for president would come after November’s midterm elections.
News of the gathering was first reported by Politico.
Cotton, who faced nominal opposition as he easily won reelection in 2020 in heavily red Arkansas, has crisscrossed the country last year and this year, helping fellow Republicans running in November’s midterm elections. And he’s made multiple stops in Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two states to vote in the GOP’s presidential nominating calendar.
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But the senator publicly demurs when asked about 2024.
“I’m not making any decision right now about the future. The election that’s looking at us right in our windshield is the 2022 election,” Cotton told Fox News in December during a stop in New Hampshire.
Pritzker’s New Hampshire trip sparks speculation
Gov. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois was one of the featured speakers Saturday at the New Hampshire Democratic Party’s State Convention.
And Pritzker’s trip to the state that for a century that has held the first primary in White House race sparked some speculation that the first-term governor, billionaire businessman, philanthropist, and member of the family that owns the Hyatt hotel chain may have some future national ambitions.
“The truth is that I’m going to help other Democratic governors get elected,” Pritzker told reporters last week in Chicago, ahead of his trip. “I can’t tell you anything other than I love the job that I have and that’s why I’m running for reelection of the governor of this state, and I intend to do a good job for the people of our state for the next four years.”
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Pritzker’s 2022 reelection campaign says that the governor’s focused on helping elect and reelect Democrats across the country this year.
They also note that during his in New England swing this weekend, Pritzker was also visiting Massachusetts to support state attorney general Maura Healey, the front-runner for this year’s Democratic gubernatorial nomination, and will also stop in Maine, to support Democratic Gov. Janet Mills, who’s running for reelection.
Fox News Thomas Phippen contributed to this report