On the Trail: 2024 presidential race heats up in New Hampshire

  • Former Vice President Mike Pence speaks July 26, 2022, in Washington. Patrick Semansky / AP file

  • FSen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., speaks during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing. Jacquelyn Martin / AP file

For the Monitor
Published: 8/13/2022 3:07:28 PM
Modified: 8/13/2022 3:04:02 PM

One of the biggest names in the Republican Party and a rising star in the GOP head to New Hampshire in the coming days, with less than three months to go until the starting gun in the next race for the White House.

The publicly stated mission of these trips by former Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas is to help fellow Republicans running in November’s midterm elections when the GOP aims to win back majorities in the U.S. House and Senate. However, the visits to the first-in-the-nation presidential primary state will inevitably spark some 2024 speculation.

Both Pence and Cotton – whom political prognosticators view as potential 2024 Republican presidential contenders, have already made multiple visits since the spring of last year to New Hampshire as well as Iowa – whose caucuses kick off the nominating calendar – and South Carolina and Nevada, which vote third and fourth in the GOP schedule.

Cotton, a two-term senator and an Army veteran who served in combat in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, kicks off the action on Tuesday as he headlines the New Hampshire GOP’s annual golf tournament, which is being held at the picdates.”turesque Wentworth by the Sea golf club in Rye. He’ll also headline a fundraiser in Manchester for Hillsborough County Sheriff Chris Connelly as well as a reception for the Salem GOP.

Pence arrives in the state the next day headlining “Politics and Eggs” at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics. For two decades the speaking series at Saint Anselm College in Goffstown has been a must-stop for White House hopefuls and candidates stopping in the Granite State. It’s the third edition of “Politics and Eggs” this year to feature a possible Republican presidential contender, following appearances in the spring by former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a 2016 White House candidate, and term-limited Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson.

“It definitely takes the race for the White House to a higher level,” New Hampshire Institute of Politics executive director Neil Levesque told the Monitor. “It’s a complete sellout event and that shows the level of interest in the former vice president.”

After his appearance at Saint Anselm College, Pence will hold a small business forum in Goffstown before traveling north of the notches to team up and help North County Republican state senate candidates and later serving as the main attraction at a gathering of GOP leadership from Carroll, Coos, and Grafton counties that’s being held at the famed Mount Washington Resort.

The visit will be Pence’s second to the Granite State this year, following a late May stop where the former vice president headlined the New Hampshire Federation of Republican Women’s annual Lilac Luncheon and took part in a roundtable discussion with law enforcement members that was held at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics. Pence also traveled to New Hampshire twice last year – with visits in June and December.

Pence has made no commitment to a run for the presidency and answers questions on the subject with his often-used line that after November’s midterm elections are over, he’ll make a decision.

“We’ll do as our family has always done,” Pence said. “We’ll reflect and pray and consider where we might next serve.”

But behind the scenes, the former vice president and his advisers appear to be gearing up for a White House campaign.

New Hampshire’s experienced plenty of traffic from potential 2024 Republican presidential contenders over the past 16 months, and that will continue in the next three months, leading up to the midterms.

One of the few yet to visit is former President Donald Trump. A year and a half removed from the White House, Trump remains the most influential and powerful politician in the GOP as he continues to play a kingmaker’s role in this year’s Republican primaries and repeatedly teases what’s fast becoming an increasingly likely 2024 presidential run.

Trump received a political gift the past few days, as the FBI raid at his Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida fueled a frenzy by Republicans to rally around the former president.

Chris Ager, Hillsborough County Republican Committee chair and one of New Hampshire’s two members on the Republican National Committee, argued that Trump’s “been wronged and the only way to fix it is to get back in the White House.”

Ager predicted that the former president will be all in.

“I think this almost makes it inevitable that Trump runs and becomes the nominee to make this right,” he said.

While the RNC earlier this year announced it would make no changes in its presidential nominating calendar, the rival Democratic National Committee recently said it’s pushing back until after November’s midterm elections a highly anticipated decision on reordering the top of their 2024 presidential nominating calendar.

The decision to delay the decision-making process will likely be a relief to New Hampshire Democrats, who had expressed concerns that if they had lost their cherished position as the first presidential primary state, it may have been detrimental to Democratic U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan’s re-election bid this November. Hassan, a former governor in the key general election battleground state, is facing a potentially challenging re-election and Republicans in the state would have criticized the senator over the loss of the presidential primary position.

New Hampshire GOP chair Steve Stepanek touted that “Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada are ground zero” for Republicans in the 2024 presidential nominating calendar. “The RNC appreciates the importance and value of the carve-out states and what they do for the presidential process as far as vetting our candidates.”




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