For now, the GOP is acting like Donald Trump is the party's clear presidential candidate for 2024. However, things can't be anywhere near as simple.
Not only is Trump an elderly man with potential health problems, he also has many legal challenges ahead of him. And while he's desperate to stay at the top of the party, other prominent Republicans smell blood in the water.
Ron DeSantis is clearly the rising star of the party. And Kristi Noem from South Dakota could also have a bright future. During the CPAC conference this weekend, Noem apparently fired a shot at the Florida governor.
The governor of South Dakota told attendees: "Let's talk about rewriting history. We have Republican governors across the country pretending they haven't closed their states … that they haven't closed their beaches. "
Noem will have a long way to go to catch up with DeSantis. A straw poll recently conducted at a GOP event in Colorado showed that DeSantis is citing Trump as the preferred candidate for 2024.
The CPAC event in Texas showed very different results, with Trump clearly leading all the other candidates. However, DeSantis was clearly the second most popular candidate behind Trump. And with all of the obstacles bringing Trump to power in 2024, DeSantis almost makes it a favorite.
Noem's strategy is interesting. The fact that she would criticize a competitor for doing things against the spread of COVID shows exactly where the party is now.
Todd Neikirk is a New Jersey-based policy and technology writer. His work has been featured on psfk.com, foxsports.com and hillreporter.com. He enjoys sports, politics, comics, and spends time with his family on the waterfront.