While the 2024 presidential nomination season doesn’t start in earnest for another year, after the conclusion of the 2022 midterms, the extremely early moves are well underway.
Now comes the first sizeable cattle call of potential GOP White House hopefuls, courtesy of the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual national leadership conference.
The main political focus of the four-day confab, which kicks off Thursday in Las Vegas, will be the GOP’s aim to win back congressional majorities in next year’s midterms.
But the conference is drawing eight Republicans that pundits see as possible 2024 presidential contenders, who will speak in person to the influential crowd of GOP leaders, rainmakers, mega donors, and activists.
The potential 2024 hopefuls giving addresses at the event include former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former South Carolina governor and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rick Scott of Florida (chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Senate GOP’s reelection arm), South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
PHOENIX, ARIZONA – JULY 24: Former U.S. President Donald Trump prepares to speak at the Rally To Protect Our Elections conference on July 24, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Phoenix-based political organization Turning Point Action hosted former President Donald Trump alongside GOP Arizona candidates who have begun candidacy for government elected roles. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images) (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
Former Vice President Mike Pence and his family join him as he gives remarks to a small crowd on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021 at Columbus Municipal Airport in Columbus, Ind. ( )
FILE – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at the opening of a monoclonal antibody site Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021, in Pembroke Pines, Fla. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier) (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)
Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at Jerusalem Post’s annual conference on October 12, 2021 in Jerusalem. (Photo by Amir Levy/Getty Images) (Photo by Amir Levy/Getty Images)
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, listens during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the nomination of Samantha Power to be the next Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Tuesday, March 23, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Greg Nash/Pool via AP) ( )
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference CPAC held at the Hilton Anatole on July 11, 2021 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images) ( )
Senator Rick Scott, a Republican from Florida, speaks during a television interview at the Russell Senate Office building in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020. Photographer: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images (Stefani Reynolds)
Former UN Ambassador (R) Nikki Haley visits “Fox & Friends” at Fox News Channel Studios on November 12, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images) (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)
Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie listens as U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the Briefing Room of the White House on September 27, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Joshua Roberts/Getty Images) ( )
The front-runner right now in the next GOP White House race, former President Donald Trump, won’t attend in-person but will deliver a video address to the conference.
Longtime RJC executive director Matt Brooks told Fox News that the impressive lineup of in-person speakers is “a testament to the leadership of the organization, who encompasses so many of the top influencers, donors, contributors, and fundraisers in the Republican Party. This is the only time you could have all these folks assembled together. It’s the hottest ticket of the season.”
“We are thrilled and honored that this is now seen as a must stop event in terms of people planning and their scheduling and it’s been that way for the last couple of years,” Brooks emphasized.
“We’re looking forward to hearing what they’re saying and what their vision is for the country going forward,” he added.
Geography also matters, as the RJC conference is being held in Nevada, which in recent presidential cycles has held the fourth contest in the party’s presidential primary and caucus calendar.
For the potential contenders, the most important aspects of these cattle calls are often the private, behind the scenes meetings.
“These type of events are kind of like the spring training of the presidential campaign season. You get to have small meetings with party leaders and more importantly big donors,” longtime Republican consultant Ryan Williams said. “By attending these events you generate some buzz about a potential candidacy. If you’re absent, people will look it and say you’re not serious about running in 2024.”
Williams, a veteran of multiple Republican presidential campaigns, said that the friends made at these confabs can often pay political dividends down the road.
“If you’re not going to them, your potential competitors are, and you’re losing ground, you’re losing a valuable opportunity to forge the early relationships that become helpful if someone decides to announce a candidacy in the future,” he noted.
This year’s RJC leadership conference is their first since the passing in January of Republican mega donor Sheldon Adelson, who for years played a key leadership role with the group and gave it generous financial support.
Brooks, who said that Adelson will be honored during the final evening of the confab, noted that “standing there and being a part of it and not having him there will be difficult for me personally and I’m sure for our guests and our speakers as well.”