More than 15 Republicans are testing the waters for 2024 -- 'even if Trump runs': report
Sen. Tom Cotton (R) - (Photo by Tasos Katopodis for AFP)

Mike Pence, Tom Cotton and Ron DeSantis are already dipping their toes into the race for the Republican Party's 2024 presidential nomination, according to a new report in the Washington Post. But, they're not the only ones.

"With months to go before the midterm elections, the shadow campaign for the 2024 Republican nomination is well underway, with at least 15 potential candidates traveling the country, drawing up plans, huddling with donors or testing out messages at various levels of preparation. The quadrennial circus — described by more than 20 people with direct knowledge who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private machinations — has kicked into gear despite the public hints from Trump that he too plans to join the scrum 'a third time,' says the report.

"Interviews with over a dozen GOP operatives indicate he is not clearing the field, and a range of candidates plan to take him on from different angles."

Included in the list of prominent Republicans making the rounds through Iowa and New Hampshire are Tim Scott, Chris Christie, Mike Pompeo, Larry Hogan, Nikki Haley, Ted Cruz, Rick Scott and would-be Trump nemesis Liz Cheney.

The Post notes, that 'they have been encouraged by growing concern among deep-pocketed Republican donors that another Trump run — especially an announcement before the midterms — would help Democrats."

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But, as the report also observes, Trump challengers are in for a hard slog, as the former president still dominates both internal and external polls "by a country mile."

Campaign experts cited in the report see hitting Trump hard from the right is the only hope a challenger has to defeat the former president.

“If you come at Trump from the left — say a Mitt Romney approach — I don’t think that would ever work. If you came at Trump from the right — more like a Pence or a Pompeo or a Ted Cruz or a DeSantis — then I think people would be willing to listen.”

You can read the full report here.