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The Telegraph

Analysis: Window is already narrowing for Republican to challenge Donald Trump for 2024

It is looking ever more probable that Donald Trump will run for the White House again in 2024. His opponents, including some within the Republican Party, say four years is an eternity in politics and much can change. But, in reality it isn’t four years. Candidates will begin officially announcing their runs in early 2023. That’s only two years from now. And they will be quietly cultivating donors and influential backers long before that. So it is actually quite a narrow window for anyone else to overhaul Mr Trump before his campaign juggernaut gets going. All eyes are on his speech this Sunday at CPAC, the annual conservative conference, which like Mr Trump has relocated from Washington to Florida. The speech will see him fully re-emerge from his post-presidential cocoon. Indications emanating from Mar-a-Lago suggest the speech will be designed to leave any would-be presidential nominees in no doubt whatsoever that he is still the presumptive first choice. An adviser told The Telegraph that Mr Trump has spent the last weeks taking a break, and practicing his golf swing, but is keen to re-engage in the fight. In terms of age, Mr Trump would be 78 on Election Day 2024. If successful, he would become the oldest person ever elected president. But he would only be six months older than Joe Biden was on Election Day 2020. Even Mitt Romney admitted this week that the former president would win easily if he decides to run. Mr Romney, who has twice voted to convict Mr Trump in impeachment trials, said: “I don’t know if he’ll run in 2024 or not, but if he does, I’m pretty sure he will win the nomination.” There are a host of other contenders, but Mr Trump is far ahead of all of them in polls. Nikki Haley, his former UN ambassador and a 2024 hopeful, got a clear message of his thinking. After she criticised Mr Trump over the July 6 riot at the US Capitol he refused her request for a meeting at Mar-a-Lago. Mike Pence, who as his vice president would be the obvious successor to Mr Trump, has declined an invitation to speak at CPAC. That was surprising as he usually speaks. Mr Pence is said to be planning to stay out of the public eye for at least six months. Meanwhile, Ted Cruz, who finished second to Mr Trump in the race for the Republican nomination in 2016, had been looking to go one better this time. Instead, he may have already fallen at the first hurdle following a disastrous decision to go on a family holiday to Cancun while Texas, the state he represents as a senator, was buckling under a devastating storm that left millions without power. (See video below)

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