Trump To Rally In Georgia While Hinting At A 2024 Run The president is set to campaign in Georgia this weekend as he weighs another run in four years. That could upend the ambitions of several other Republicans visiting the state recently.
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Georgia Senate Runoffs Lure Possible 2024 GOP Hopefuls, Including Trump

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Georgia Senate Runoffs Lure Possible 2024 GOP Hopefuls, Including Trump

Georgia Senate Runoffs Lure Possible 2024 GOP Hopefuls, Including Trump

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Control of the U.S. Senate will be decided next month in Georgia. Such high stakes have made the Senate runoff elections there a draw for Republicans starting to think about a run for president in 2024. President Trump is headed to Georgia tomorrow, and he's now considering a comeback bid in four years. That is making things complicated for other GOP hopefuls. NPR's Don Gonyea reports.

DON GONYEA, BYLINE: We're used to early, thinly veiled presidential campaign stops in places like Iowa and New Hampshire, not so much in Georgia.

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MIKE PENCE: Thank you all for coming out. It is great to be back in the Peach State.

(CHEERING)

GONYEA: Georgia's runoff and the spotlight that comes with it is the big draw. But the fact that it's a newly minted swing state with lots of electoral votes makes it especially tempting for politicians thinking ahead to 2024. That first voice was Vice President Mike Pence at a rally for Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, the Republicans in the January runoff. Others who have come through on their behalf include Florida Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio. Rubio picked up right where the 2020 campaign left off with warnings of violence in the streets and rampant socialism.

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MARCO RUBIO: What stands in the way of all that becoming public policy in America, even half of it becoming public policy in America? You through your vote in this race.

GONYEA: Other potential 2024 hopefuls haven't yet campaigned in person but are helping in other ways, including fundraising, like former South Carolina governor and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and Missouri Senator Josh Hawley. Texas Senator Ted Cruz says he's heading to the state soon. Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton has been there. He actually made a reference to absentee mail-in balloting that didn't condemn the practice as fraudulent, the way President Trump continues to do.

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TOM COTTON: The eyes of the world are upon you, Georgia. They're waiting to see what happens on January 5 or absentee votes that just went out for him on December 14 when early voting starts.

GONYEA: President Trump heads to Valdosta tomorrow, at a time when he's been verbally attacking top elected Georgia Republicans, the governor and secretary of state. Trump lost Georgia to Joe Biden. He insists that outcome is a result of vote fraud, which has been disproven by a hand recount. The governor and secretary of state both stand by the result. Political analyst Susan MacManus says it's awkward, certainly.

SUSAN MACMANUS: The question is, will that alienate some people who will just be tired of all of that and just not vote?

GONYEA: That's a 2020 worry, but Trump's visit also foreshadows 2024. Even as he still insists he won this year, NPR has confirmed that Trump is seriously considering running again next time. His mere flirting with the idea makes things difficult for Republicans thinking about 2024 themselves. Rick Tyler is a veteran GOP strategist who counts himself among that cadre of so-called never-Trump Republicans. He says it's smart to be helping out with the runoff.

RICK TYLER: You have to go. It's unforgiveable not to go. But here's the problem. As long as Donald Trump tries to maintain control of the Republican Party and begins to flirt with a 2024 race on his own, the rest of the field will remain as frozen as a COVID vaccine.

GONYEA: Tyler says it'll be impossible for any other GOP hopeful to be taken seriously and to get early commitments from experienced campaign staff and donors with the possibility of a third Trump campaign looming.

Don Gonyea, NPR News.

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