Those with the most prominent speaking roles — a list that includes the likes of Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz — are regarded as likely 2024 contenders. At Wednesday evening’s opening reception, former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley was mobbed by fans, including a woman who wore a “Nikki 2024” baseball cap. Haley took a picture with the woman and signed the hat.
Pete Seat, a former White House aide to George W. Bush, was on hand observing the Haley love fest. He called the annual conference a “proving ground” for Republicans intent on building a national profile.
“The Ted Cruzes, the Nikki Haleys, the Mike Pences, anyone who’s looking at 2024 has to be here otherwise they’re committing political malpractice. And that’s why you’re seeing them here this week,” said Seat, a former Indiana GOP executive director.
The early activity underscores how Republicans, even at this early juncture, are starting to think about life after Trump. While the president’s reelection is the GOP’s immediate priority, prominent figures in the party are beginning to position themselves for what’s next.