It doesn’t take a seasoned analyst to figure out that the main Republican player, barring unforseen circumstances, in 2024, if he runs or not, is Donald Trump.

If he runs he’s the odds on favorite unless all other Republicans could coalesce around one contender to stop him. That won’t happen and even if it did it may not work. Legal issues in New York and Georgia could hurt Trump. That’s why the Democrats may be waiting to spring those traps closer to 2024. But even then they’d have to put him in jail to stop him. And like others from jail, he’d probably write a bestseller and emerge a martyr.

If he doesn’t run, with his fanatical personal political bodyguard who compose at least 60 percent of the current Republican base, he’d be the kingmaker. For the purposes of this article, as we’ve outlined his potential candidacy-which would be mainly composed of a successful comparison of his administration to Biden’s- let’s look at the bench. These are those who will be on top if he doesn’t run and will be serious choices for veep if he does. One of them could emerge as Trump’s rival. But that would take a lot of guts.

DeSantis: His navigation of COVID-19 in Florida has been superb. Trump likes him and he is popular in his home state, which is a big battleground state. A top contender.

Noem: Aside from battleground reference, similar to DeSantis. A DeSantis-Noem ticket, if Trump doesn’t run, would be very strong. Noem’s looks, demeanor, competence, and savvy are great assets to the GOP.

Haley: Says she won’t run if Trump does. That spoils the dreams of some anti-Trumpers, who wanted to see her challenge the former president. She’s angling for a veep slot or an endorsement if Trump bows out.

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Cruz: Wants very badly to be president. DC rumor says he’s not a Trump fan, but will suck up to Trump if that’s what it takes to get to the Resolute desk. He’s a strong conservative and has massive name recognition. But is he too smart to be president?

Abbott: This popular very competent, yet self-effacing, governor of Texas could be a serious contender as a dark horse or even an alternative to Trump. He’ll get more nationally popular in due course, as he leads Republican state government opposition to Biden.

Thune: Big time dark horse and not a Trump fan. Trump returns the favor. But MGM looks and a boy scout rep helps the South Dakota senator. His high spot in the senate would also help with fundraising.

Christie: Yup, he’s not gone. He was just in hibernation. The former New Jersey governor is a massive underdog and hardly even approaches dark horse status. His legitimate criticism of Trump for the January 6th speech was not looked upon well at Mar-a-Lago. But, he’s been a media attack dog against Biden and DC rumor says that’s because he’s planning something. Maybe a run. Maybe a run to get a Cabinet slot like Carson and Buttigieg. For all of them, time will tell.