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Who’s running to be the next US president? The 2024 election candidates so far – including Oprah’s ‘spiritual adviser’

As Joe Biden, Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis lead the pack, Sky News takes a look at the candidates hoping to win the race for the White House in 2024.

The race to be the next US president is intensifying.

Will Joe Biden be back for another four years? Are we headed for a Donald Trump White House 2.0… or will there be a new face in the Oval Office?

Sky News takes a look at the list of hopefuls competing to be commander-in-chief – from Florida’s anti-woke warrior and Trump’s main rival, Ron DeSantis, to a leading anti-vaxxer who also happens to be a member of the Kennedy clan, and a self-help guru.

Joe Biden, Democrat, 80

The “battle for the soul of America is” ongoing, says President Biden, and he needs a second term to secure victory.

His first term has been marked by delivering on some of his core campaign promises (creating millions of jobs, returning America to a sense of normality post-COVID) but there have been lows too (see the chaos in Kabul as it fell to the Taliban).

His critics point to his age – he is the oldest candidate in the race, several years older than Trump – and his propensity for gaffes and the odd unfortunate tumble.

President Joe Biden, walks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy ahead of a working session on Ukraine during the G7 Summit in Hiroshima, Japan, Sunday, May 21, 2023. Susan Walsh/Pool via REUTERS
Image: Biden with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy
While he is unlikely to face a serious challenge for his party’s nomination, his poll ratings leave something to be desired, with only 41% of Americans holding a favourable view of the president in mid-June.

The soundbite: “The question we are facing is whether in the years ahead we have more freedom or less freedom. More rights or fewer.”

Did you know? Biden is a lifelong car enthusiast and the proud owner of a 1967 Corvette convertible. The commander-in-chief even took it for a spin for the TV show, Jay Leno’s Garage.

Making America Great Again…again?

Donald Trump, Republican, 77

This week Donald Trump became the first-ever former president of the US to appear in court facing federal criminal charges.

However, he remains determined to seek a second term as president in 2024.

He writes off the accusations against him as politically motivated – and his loyal supporters seem energised to defend him.

That’s despite facing 37 criminal charges over retaining classified information, obstructing justice and false statements, as well as various other legal problems.

The former president is simply adamant he will reclaim the Oval Office in 2024.

The current front-runner in the Republican race, his perception among some Republican voters has taken a hit following his indictment over boxes of documents stuffed in a bathroom at his Mar-a-Lago residence.

But there are still plenty who back America’s most divisive politician.

Why has Donald Trump been indicted again and what does it mean for his presidential bid?1:16
Announcing his intention to run in November 2022, Trump depicted Biden’s America in apocalyptic terms, describing “blood-soaked streets” in “cesspool cities” and an “invasion” at the border.

His vow to execute those convicted of selling drugs was greeted with cheers from his supporters.

While he’s leading the Republican field, polls of a potential Biden v Trump matchup produce varying outcomes.

One published at the end of May, though, has Biden with a slim lead.

The soundbite: “I have assumed for years that I am a Target of the WEAPONIZED DOJ & FBI.”

Did you know? He’s the only US president to ever be impeached twice.

Ron DeSantis, Republican, 44

The rise of Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, has been impossible to ignore.

A former little league baseball star who hates everything “woke”, he is now seen as the only Republican with a chance of defeating Trump in the primary, although his poll ratings have been falling.

Under his watch, the Sunshine State has become a hotbed for so-called anti-woke laws, including a ban on teaching critical race theory.

Ron DeSantis in Iowa0:18
He’s also managed to make an enemy of entertainment giant, Disney, ever since the company publicly opposed his “Don’t Say Gay” bill that focuses on discussion of sexuality and gender identity in classrooms.

The soundbite: “What I’ve found is when people start talking about things like global warming, they typically use that as a pretext to do a bunch of left-wing things that they would want to do anyways. And so we’re not doing any left-wing stuff.”

Did you know? His wife Casey – a former news journalist, breast cancer survivor and mother of three – has been described as his “greatest asset”. She is credited with helping mastermind his rise and even taught him how to contour his face for TV – a beauty trick made famous by Kim Kardashian.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speaks at the NH Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, U.S., March 3, 2023.

Robert Kennedy Jr, Democrat, 69

Yep, he’s from the Kennedy family. The assassinated president, John F Kennedy, was his uncle and his father, Robert F Kennedy, was killed while running for the Oval Office in 1968.

But while he is a Kennedy, he’s not the typical establishment politician – far from it.

Once an environmental lawyer who worked on issues such as clean water, he adopted an anti-vaccine stance over 15 years ago.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, he gained notoriety as an anti-vaxxer despite health experts – and a member of his own distinguished family – calling his position dangerous and misleading.

Then in 2022, he was forced to apologise after suggesting that conditions were worse for those living under COVID-19 restrictions and mandates than they were for Anne Frank during the holocaust.

Recently he courted further controversy by claiming he has conversations with dead people. He later clarified that the “conversations” were one-way and that he did not get “strategic advice from the dead”, the Free Press reported.

But despite the depiction of him as an outsider – and criticism of many of the things that he says – he has gained enough support to suggest a potential desire for a populist approach from the left.

Two recent polls have him at 16% and 20% in the race for the Democratic nomination, with Biden far ahead at 62% and 60%.

The soundbite: “My mission over the next 18 months of this campaign and throughout my presidency will be to end the corrupt merger of state and corporate power that is threatening now to impose a new kind of corporate feudalism in our country.”

Did you know? In 2005, he wrote Deadly Immunity, an essay that repeated the debunked claim vaccines were linked to autism in children.

Pic: AP
Image: Can Mike Pence defeat Trump? Pic: AP
The Trump VP-turned-challenger

Mike Pence, Republican, 64

He was Trump’s vice president but has since broken away from his former boss over the 6 January 2021 insurrection that saw Trump supporters calling for his head.

Pence says “history will hold Trump accountable” for his role in the attack.

The former Indiana governor has been known for his socially conservative and deeply religious views, passing laws in the state affecting abortion and LGBTQ rights.

The soundbite: “We will restore a threshold of civility in public life.”

Did you know? Marlon Bundo, the Pence family’s late rabbit, had his own Instagram account and starred in children’s books. BOTUS (Bunny of the United States) died in 2022.

U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), the only Black Republican senator, announces his candidacy for the 2024 Republican presidential race in North Charleston, South Carolina, U.S. May 22, 2023. REUTERS/Randall Hill
Image: Tim Scott
The ‘opposite’ of Donald Trump?

Tim Scott, Republican, 57

The only black Republican US senator has low name recognition outside his home state of South Carolina, but his optimism and focus on unifying his divided party have helped him to draw a contrast with the more aggressive approaches of Trump and DeSantis.

He’s got an uphill struggle to win the nomination, however. Scott has only 1% of support among registered Republicans, according to an average of polls in April and May.

The soundbite: “Joe Biden and the radical left are attacking every rung of the ladder that helped me climb.”

Did you know? He would be the first unmarried US president since 1884.

Chris Christie, pictured last month at a town hall style meeting in New Hampshire, is expected to launch his campaign for the Republican nomination for president next week
Image: Chris Christie launched his campaign with a distinct anti-Trump message. Pic: AP
Trying to take down Trump

Chris Christie, Republican, 60

Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who advised Trump’s White House campaign in 2016 only to become a vocal critic of the former president, enters the race as an underdog.

He’s also known for a controversy surrounding the closure of two lanes on the George Washington Bridge that caused huge traffic jams in Fort Lee, New Jersey.

Only 1% of Republicans said he would be their preferred 2024 nominee in a poll conducted in mid-May.

The soundbite: Taking aim at Trump, Christie remarked: “A lonely, self-consumed, self-serving mirror hog is not a leader.”

Did you know? His favourite book is The Great Gatsby. He says he’s read it twice.

Democratic presidential hopeful Marianne Williamson addresses the South Carolina Democratic Party Black Caucus’ Sunday Dinner, Sunday, March 26, 2023, in West Columbia, S.C. Williamson is kicking off a four-day campaign swing through South Carolina, which holds the first Democratic presidential primary in 2024. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)
Image: Democrat hopeful Marianne Williamson. Pic: AP
The self-help guru

Marianne Williamson, Democrat, 70

The best-selling author has launched her second, longshot bid for the White House.

She ran as a Democrat in the 2020 presidential primary but dropped out of the race before any votes had been cast.

She has written 13 books – four of which have topped the New York Times bestseller list.

The soundbite: “It is our job to create a vision of justice and love that is so powerful that it will override the forces of hatred and injustice and fear.”

Did you know? She appeared multiple times on The Oprah Winfrey Show as a “spiritual adviser”.

Nikki Haley, Republican, 51

A former governor of South Carolina and Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, Haley has emphasised her relative youth compared to Biden and Trump, as well as her background as the daughter of two Indian immigrants.

She has gained a reputation in the Republican Party as a solid conservative who has the ability to address issues of gender and race in a more credible fashion than many of her peers.

Haley is attracting around 4% support among Republican voters, according to an average of polling in April and May.

The soundbite: “I wear heels, but it’s not a fashion statement… it’s because if I see something wrong, I’m gonna kick ’em every single time.”

Did you know? She once competed in the Little Miss Bamberg pageant.

2024 Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy speaks with POLITICO journalists at POLITICO’s offices in Arlington, Va., June 5, 2023. (Francis Chung/POLITICO via AP Images)
Image: Vivek Ramaswamy is running a longshot campaign. Pic: AP
The biotech expert

Vivek Ramaswamy, Republican, 37

Ramaswamy is a former biotechnology investor and executive. Last year he launched a firm to pressure companies to abandon environmental, social and corporate governance initiatives.

He remains a longshot to see off the likes of Trump and DeSantis, let alone defeat a likely Democratic nominee in Joe Biden.

His views have drawn controversy, including his claims that he would shut down the Department of Education and replace the IRS and FBI.

The soundbite: “We will use our military to annihilate the Mexican drug cartels,” he told the New York Times.

Did you know? If he were elected he would be the youngest US president ever, as well as the first Asian-American occupant of the Oval Office.

FILE – Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaks during an interview with the Associated Press, Dec. 13, 2022 in Washington. Gov. Hutchinson says he…s running for president in 2024, offering himself as an alternative for Republicans ready to turn the party away from Donald Trump. The 72-year-old former governor joins a field that includes Trump, former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy.(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)
Image: Former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson. Pic: AP
The former Arkansas governor

Asa Hutchinson, Republican, 72

Asa Hutchinson says people want leaders that “appeal to the best of America” and not “our worst instincts”.

He has positioned himself as an anti-Trump figure, saying a re-election of the former president would be the “worst scenario” for Republicans.

The soundbite: “I’m running because I believe that I am the right time for America, the right candidate for our country and its future.”

Did you know? Hutchinson has identical twin sons who became the first twins to serve together in the Arkansas General Assembly as members of the House of Representatives.

Larry Elder, Republican, 71

Conservative radio personality Elder announced his bid for the White House on Fox News with Tucker Carlson back in April.

A longshot candidate for 2024, he made his first bid for public office in 2021, when he received the most votes out of 46 people who were hoping to replace California governor Gavin Newsom in a recall effort that eventually failed.

A lawyer who grew up in Los Angeles’ rough South Central neighbourhood, Elder attended an Ivy League college and then law school.

The soundbite: “America is in decline, but this decline is not inevitable. We can enter a new American Golden Age, but we must choose a leader who can bring us there.”

Did you know? During the recall campaign, a former fiancée said Elder showed her a gun during a 2015 argument. Elder denied the allegations.

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum reacts during an event for announcing he enters the 2024 presidential race, joining a growing field of candidates hoping to topple Donald Trump and secure the Republican nomination, in Fargo, North Dakota, U.S. June 7, 2023. REUTERS/Dan Koeck

Doug Burgum, Republican, 66

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum entered the Republican nominee race relatively late but he’s hoping his small town values will help him stand out in a crowded field.

Burgum, a former software company executive, is largely unknown beyond his state, and he will begin his White House bid well behind rivals such as Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

He has stressed his humble origins and said the next US president should be “someone who’s held jobs where you shower at the end of the day, not at the beginning”.

The soundbite: “I grew up in a tiny town in North Dakota… ‘Woke’ was what you did at 5am to start the day.”

Did you know? His personal wealth is derived from selling his startup to Microsoft more than two decades ago.

Francis Suarez, Republican, 45

Miami mayor Francis Suarez has filed paperwork to launch his bid to become the Republican nominee, adding to a crowded field not only of Republicans, but of Florida residents in the contest.

The only Hispanic candidate in the race, he is the son of Miami’s first Cuban-born mayor.

Suarez has gained national attention in recent years for his efforts to lure companies to Miami, with an eye towards turning the city into a crypto hub and the next Silicon Valley.

The soundbite: “If I do decide to run it’s starting a new chapter, a new conversation of a new kind of leader who maybe looks a little different, speaks a little different, had a little bit of a different experience, but can inspire people.”

Did you know? Suarez has said he did not support Trump in either the 2016 or 2020 presidential elections, instead writing in the names of Senator Marco Rubio and then vice president Pence on his ballot.

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