Candidates vying for 2024 US presidential race

| Updated: 16 January, 2024 4:59 pm IST

NEW DELHI: The 2024 presidential race in the US is witnessing a multitude of contenders, yet the majority find themselves overshadowed by the prominent figures from the 2020 election – President Biden and former President Donald J. Trump. In a recent update, Vivek Ramaswamy chose to suspend his campaign following a lacklustre performance in the Iowa caucuses, subsequently throwing his support behind former President Trump.

Trump maintains a considerable lead over his competitors in polls, a phenomenon attributed partly to the fragmented field, making it challenging for voters to unite behind a singular alternative. Additionally, Trump’s enduring influence on the party’s base contributes significantly to his commanding position.

On the Democratic front, President Biden continues to assert dominance within the field, reflecting a similar pattern to the Republican side where the two figures from the 2020 election continue to cast substantial shadows over the evolving political landscape.

Let us have a look at the different contenders from both the parties as well as the independent ones.

Democrats

  1. Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Positioning himself as a guardian of democracy and a stabilising influence following the turbulent Trump administration, President Biden (82 years old) anticipates highlighting his bipartisan achievements, such as a significant infrastructure bill.

Additionally, he intends to emphasise his backing for Democratic initiatives, particularly on issues like abortion rights that face strong opposition from Republicans. Notably, he is seeking re-election as the oldest individual ever to hold the presidential position, a matter of apprehension for some Democrats. However, the party has publicly set aside these concerns, rallying behind him in support.

  1. Marianne Williamson

Marianne Williamson (72 years old), a self-help author and former spiritual adviser to Oprah Winfrey, is making a second run for office. During her unsuccessful 2020 campaign, she advocated for the establishment of a federal Department of Peace, endorsed reparations for slavery, and characterised Trumpism as a manifestation of an ailment ingrained in the American psyche, asserting that it couldn’t be fixed solely through political policies.

Additionally, she has endorsed certain medical theories that have faced scepticism or have been debunked, particularly in the realm of mental illness.

  1. Dean Phillips

Dean Phillips (56 years old), a moderate Democrat who entered the House in 2018, aligns closely with President Biden on major policy issues and has consistently backed his agenda in Congress. However, he contends that due to Biden’s age and declining approval ratings, the Democratic Party should select an alternative candidate.

Hailing from a family involved in a Minnesota liquor business and having served as the former chairman of the Talenti gelato company, Phillips stepped down from a role in Democratic House leadership as he contemplated a presidential run, despite the objections of a majority of the party’s elected officials.

Republicans

  1. Donald J. Trump

Attempting to reclaim the presidency he lost in 2020, former President Donald Trump (78 years old) is entering the race, despite having previously contested his defeat to the extent of instigating a mob of his followers to assault the US Capitol.

While his influence within the Republican Party has waned somewhat, and he is the subject of legal inquiries from both state authorities and the Justice Department, Trump still commands a sizable and highly dedicated supporter base. In the upcoming 2024 primary, the presence of multiple challengers could potentially divide the limited anti-Trump vote, offering him a strategic advantage.

  1. Nikki Haley

Nikki Haley (53 years old), the former governor of South Carolina and a United Nations Ambassador during the Trump administration, positions herself as part of “a new generation of leadership.” She highlights her life experiences as the daughter of Indian immigrants.

Once regarded as a promising Republican figure, capable of avoiding certain extremes while retaining support from the party base, Haley’s standing within the GOP has dwindled. This decline is attributed to her intermittent association with Trump, despite earlier instances where she demonstrated independence, such as her 2015 call for the removal of the Confederate battle flag from the South Carolina Capitol grounds.

  1. Asa Hutchinson

Asa Hutchinson (74 years old), a two-term former Governor of Arkansas who concluded his tenure in January, stands out as one of the limited Republicans openly expressing criticism of former President Trump.

He has condemned Trump’s endeavours to overturn the 2020 election results and advocated for his withdrawal from the presidential race. With an extensive background in federal governance, Hutchinson has served in the House, led the Drug Enforcement Administration, and helmed the Department of Homeland Security’s Border and Transportation Security Directorate.

  1. Ryan Binkley

Ryan Binkley (57 years old), serving as the president of a mergers and acquisitions firm and concurrently holding the role of a pastor in a Texas church, lacks prior experience in elected office or electoral campaigns.

Presenting himself as a “unifying” candidate capable of bridging partisan gaps, Binkley emphasises a message of reconciliation on his website, asserting, “The problems we face, and the blame we lay, can all be rectified if we look to God, find the good in our fellow Americans, and resolve to trust each other one more time.” His key policy initiatives encompass immigration reform and the goal of achieving a balanced federal budget within seven years.

  1. Ron DeSantis

Ron DeSantis (46 years old) has cultivated a nationwide image as a confrontational conservative ready to engage in ideological clashes with liberals.

In his role as Florida’s governor, he has spearheaded a hands-off approach to the Coronavirus pandemic and, in collaboration with a sympathetic state legislature, curtailed the instruction of racial history in educational institutions while implementing significant restrictions impacting the rights of L.G.B.T.Q. individuals in Florida.

Moreover, he has wielded executive authority extensively against political adversaries, ranging from a  local level Democratic prosecutor to corporate entities such as Disney.

Independent and third-party

  1. Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (71 years old), a nephew of the late President John F. Kennedy, has become a prominent figure in the anti-vaccine movement. Initially entering the race for the Democratic nomination, he shifted gears in October, opting to run as an independent.

Known for promoting discredited assertions connecting childhood vaccines to autism, Kennedy has been a vocal critic of Coronavirus vaccine mandates and other pandemic-related measures, so much so that he drew an analogy to Nazi Germany, later issuing an apology for the remark. Previously recognised as an environmental lawyer contributing to the cleanup of the Hudson River, his fervent opposition to vaccines has caused distress within his closely-knit political family.

  1. Cornel West

Cornel West (72 years old), who has held teaching positions at Yale, Princeton, and Harvard, currently serves as a philosophy professor at Union Theological Seminary. Renowned for his progressive activism, which notably includes critiques of former President Barack Obama.

Initially expressing an intention to run with the People’s Party, a third party led by a former campaign staffer for Senator Bernie Sanders, Dr. West later announced his decision to pursue the Green Party’s nomination. Subsequently, he changed course once more, opting to run as an independent.

  1. Jill Stein

Jill Stein (74 years old), a physician who previously ran as the Green Party’s presidential candidate in both 2012 and 2016, is now contending for the party’s nomination for the third time. In a campaign announcement video, she advocated for an ‘economic bill of rights,’ encompassing guaranteed rights to employment, healthcare, housing, food, and education.

Additionally, she emphasised her commitment to addressing climate change and safeguarding abortion and transgender rights. In the 2016 election, Stein garnered approximately 1.4 million votes, with some Democrats attributing her candidacy to diverting support away from Hillary Clinton in crucial states.

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