Trump Reacts to Haley, DeSantis, Other Potential 2024 Rivals

Won't commit to backing eventual GOP nominee; says Kushner 'won't be involved' In 2024 efforts
By Nathan Worcester
Nathan Worcester
Nathan Worcester
Nathan Worcester covers national politics for The Epoch Times and has also focused on energy and the environment. Nathan has written about everything from fusion energy and ESG to Biden's classified documents and international conservative politics. He lives and works in Chicago. Nathan can be reached at
February 2, 2023Updated: February 3, 2023

Former President Donald Trump responded in comments to radio host Hugh Hewitt on Feb. 2 to the possibility that former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and other Republicans may challenge him for the GOP’s 2024 presidential nomination.

“Well, she [Haley] called me and she asked me about it, and I told her she should follow her heart,” said Trump, who announced his 2024 presidential bid last November.

“You know, she said numerous times—I put it up, actually—that ‘I would never run if our president runs. He was a great president,’ et cetera, et cetera. She said that numerous times,” he continued.

“But she’s a very ambitious person. She just couldn’t stay in her seat. And I said, you know what? Nikki, if you want to run, you go ahead and run.”

Trump nominated Haley to serve as United States ambassador to the United Nations, a post she held for two years.

nikki haley at security council meeting
Nikki Haley, United States ambassador to the United Nations, during a Security Council meeting on Sept. 6, 2018, at U.N. headquarters in New York City. (UN Photo/Manuel Elias)

Trump made the remarks after reports that Haley will announce a 2024 presidential bid on Feb. 15.

In a Feb. 1 Truth Social post, Trump had put up a clip of Haley saying she would back the former president if he ran in 2024.

“Nikki has to follow her heart, not her honor. She should definitely run!” Trump wrote.

Haley isn’t the only South Carolinian mulling a shot at the top job.

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) has announced a national “Faith in America” tour, set to kick off on Feb. 16 in South Carolina. Scott will also speak in Iowa, a key early state during primary season, on Feb. 22.

When asked by Hewitt if he would support the Republican candidate in 2024, even if it isn’t him, Trump said that “it would depend,” adding, “I would give you the same answer I gave in 2016 during the debates.”

In the first Republican presidential primary debate, held in August 2015, Fox News Anchor Bret Baier asked anyone who would not swear to back the eventual GOP candidate to raise their hand.

Trump famously raised his hand.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures during the first Republican presidential debate at the Quicken Loans Arena Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gestures during the first Republican presidential debate at the Quicken Loans Arena Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

“If I’m the nominee, I will pledge I will not run as an independent. But—and I am discussing it with everybody, but I’m, you know, talking about a lot of leverage. We want to win, and we will win. But I want to win as the Republican,” Trump told Baier at the time.

During his Feb. 2 Hewitt interview, Trump claimed another potential 2024 rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, owed his election to that office to the former real estate magnate.

He cited his 2017 endorsement of DeSantis in the Republican gubernatorial contest that pitted the former congressman against the state’s agriculture commissioner at the time, Adam Putnam.

Epoch Times Photo
Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis and his wife, Casey, at his midterm election night party in Orlando, Florida, on Nov. 6, 2018. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

Hewitt pressed Trump on the loyalty of some possible 2024 rivals.

He asked if Trump felt DeSantis, Haley, former Trump CIA chief and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin—all discussed in the media as potential 2024 contenders—should not challenge Trump for the 2024 presidential nomination “if you [Trump] have helped them.”

“Yeah, I would say that, but I know how life works. And I know how politics works. And politics is a microcosm, but even more vicious, of life. So you know, I’ve helped all those people,” Trump responded.

Trump also told Hewitt that Jared Kushner, the husband of his daughter Ivanka, “won’t be involved” in his efforts to secure the presidency once again.

Epoch Times Photo
Jared Kushner listens during an announcement in the White House Oval Office in Washington on Sept. 11, 2020. (Andrew Harnik/AP Photo)

Trump also suggested that Democrats had become indistinguishable from Marxists or communists.

“The train never stopped at socialism, okay? It was supposed to stop at socialism. It just passed that. So we’re into communism, Marxism, and other things,” he told Hewitt.

The Epoch Times has reached out to DeSantis and Haley for comment.

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