Although Fox News’ Tucker Carlson is an incredibly polarizing and divisive figure, he is by no means obscure: the far-right host of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” gets huge ratings. And according to Politico’s Alex Thompson, there is talk in right-wing circles of Carlson possibly running for president as a Republican in 2024.
Thompson, in an article published on July 2, explains, “Tucker Carlson’s audience is booming — and so is chatter that the popular Fox News host will parlay his TV perch into a run for president in 2024. Republican strategists, conservative commentators and former Trump campaign and administration officials are buzzing about Carlson as the next-generation leader of Donald Trump’s movement — with many believing he would be an immediate frontrunner in a Republican primary.”
Carlson, Thompson observes, “has become perhaps the highest-profile proponent of Trumpism: a blend of anti-immigrant nationalism, economic populism and America First isolationism that he articulates unapologetically and with some snark. At the same time, he’s shown a rare willingness among Republicans to bluntly criticize Trump when he believes the president is straying from that ideology.”
Politico interviewed some people on the right to get their thoughts on a possible presidential run by Carlson in 2024. Carlson and Fox News declined to be interviewed, but National Review Editor Rich Lowry was happy to weigh in.
Lowry, who writes a column for Politico in addition to his work at the Review, said of a “Carlson for president” campaign, “No one can dismiss this and say it’s completely implausible. There is, at the very least, a significant faction within the Republican Party that (Carlson) has a huge stake in and arguably leadership over. If he has political ambitions, he has an opening. He has a following and a taste for controversy. He’s smart, quick on his feet and personable. Political experience matters less than it once did.”
The question is: would Carlson want to run for president four years from now? Former Trump aide Sam Nunberg doesn’t think so, telling Politico he doesn’t think Carlson will run because the Fox News host is “so disgusted with politicians.” But Nunberg also asserted, “Let me put it this way: if (former Vice President Joe) Biden wins and Tucker decided to run, he’d be the nominee.”
If Carlson did decide to run for president as a Republican in 2024, he would likely be facing one of two possible scenarios: (1) Biden, following a victory in November 2020, seeking a second term, or (2) Trump approaching the end of his second term. How viable Carlson would or wouldn’t be as a GOP presidential primary candidate in 2024 might have a lot to do with how things play out in this year’s presidential election. The Lincoln Project, a right-wing anti-Trump group that is supporting Biden, is hoping that 2020 will be such a disaster for Republicans that the GOP will abandon Trumpism and return to a more traditional brand of Reagan conservatism.
But even a Democratic landslide in 2020 wouldn’t necessarily mean the end of Trump’s career in politics. It’s entirely possible that Trump could lose to Biden in November and end up with a Fox News show that would get blockbuster ratings. And one thing Barack Obama’s presidential victories in 2008 and 2012 demonstrate is that when Republicans lose, the GOP doesn’t necessarily respond by moving more to the center — it responds by becoming even crazier and moving more to the right.
Whatever the outcome in November — a Biden victory or a second term for Trump — a GOP presidential run by Carlson or someone equally extreme in 2024 cannot be ruled out.