2024 GOP presidential primary starts to take shape as Trump's potential rivals Haley, Scott, Pence make moves

Key Points
  • At least one of former President Donald Trump's potential GOP primary rivals is expected to join him in the 2024 race for the White House as early as this month.
  • The first may be former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, who just teased a "special announcement."
  • Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., announced through his office that he will soon deliver remarks in South Carolina and Iowa.
Former South Carolina Republican Governor Nikki Haley speaks at the Republican Jewish Coalition Annual Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada, on November 19, 2022.
Wade Vandervort | AFP | Getty Images

Former President Donald Trump may soon get some company on the campaign trail.

A flurry of recent moves from Trump's potential Republican primary competitors signals that at least one candidate, and possibly more, are ready to join him in the 2024 presidential race as early as this month.

The first to take that plunge may be one of Trump's former top officials: Nikki Haley, the ex-U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, on Wednesday morning teased a "special announcement" set for Feb. 15 in South Carolina, where she previously served as governor.

Multiple outlets are reporting that that announcement in Charleston will be her official campaign kickoff.

"It's definitely going to be a Great Day in South Carolina!" Haley tweeted alongside an RSVP link to the event.

Later on Wednesday, Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., announced through his office he will soon deliver remarks in South Carolina and Iowa, both of which are key states in the presidential primary cycle.

Scott's first event, billed as a commemoration of Black History Month, is set to take place in Charleston on Feb. 16 — one day after Haley's announcement. His second stop, on "the importance of faith in America," is slated for Feb. 22 in Iowa, which Republicans plan to keep as the first state on their primary election calendar.

Both Scott, the only Black Republican in the Senate, and Haley, who had built up some bipartisan credibility as governor and at the United Nations, have long been suspected of gearing up to run for president. Haley seemed to be further along than many of her would-be GOP rivals in recent weeks; CNBC reported last week that she had directed some of her new hires to be in Charleston by Wednesday.

They are are just two potential candidates among a lengthy list of Republicans who are expected to throw their hats in the ring for 2024. Others include Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has been tight-lipped about his presidential plans even as he's seen as Trump's biggest competition, along with Trump's former Vice President Mike Pence, Trump's ex-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a range of others.

Pence, Haley, Scott and other possible 2024 GOP contenders are also set to speak at an Austin, Texas, conference on Feb. 24, the Texas Tribune reported earlier Wednesday.

But so far it's been a one-man race — and a slow one at that, with Trump doing virtually no campaigning in the two and half months since he launched his latest White House bid.

In a sign that the race is shifting into second gear, however, the former president finally hit the trail over the weekend with a pair of stops in South Carolina and New Hampshire.

"I'm more angry now and I'm more committed now than I ever was," Trump said at a meeting of GOP leaders in Salem, New Hampshire. Polls show the twice-impeached former president, who lost to President Joe Biden in 2020 and is currently mired in numerous investigations and lawsuits, remains a dominant, if diminished, figure in the Republican Party.

With his rivals looking more likely than ever to challenge his perch atop the GOP, Trump has taken some newer, harder swipes on social media.

Trump said over the weekend that he had spoken to Haley on the phone and encouraged her to run. But in a post on his Twitter-like site Truth Social on Wednesday afternoon, he appeared to mock Haley, sharing a video of Haley saying in 2021 that she would support Trump if he ran for president again.

"Nikki has to follow her heart, not her honor," Trump wrote in the post. "She should definitely run!"

In an earlier post, Trump lashed out at DeSantis as a "RINO GLOBALIST," criticizing him for measures he took during the coronavirus pandemic. DeSantis has garnered praise from conservatives for pushing back on efforts to extend or strengthen certain social distancing measures during earlier stages of the pandemic.

"Loved the Vaccines and wasted big money on 'Testing,'" Trump wrote. "How quickly people forget!"