Here is a list of the candidates:
Trump, 77, holds a commanding lead in the race for his party’s nomination, despite facing indictments in four separate state and federal criminal cases. He has successfully convinced a large chunk of the Republican electorate that the criminal charges are part of a politically motivated witch hunt to thwart his election, an assertion the Justice Department has denied.
Trump has vowed to enact tougher immigration restrictions and harsher curbs on trade with China, and to carry out political reprisals against those he perceives to have wronged him. He has a firm grip on his party’s right wing, but may struggle to get moderates and independents to support him in a general election should he win the Republican nomination.
A New York Times/Siena opinion poll in November pointed to that possibility, with Biden trailing Trump in five of six battleground states that are expected to determine the outcome in 2024. Trump, who lost in 2020 to Biden, is seeking to become the first person to serve two non-consecutive terms since former President Grover Cleveland won back the White House in 1892.
Florida Governor DeSantis, 45, was once viewed as the most formidable challenger to Trump, but his campaign has been plagued by infighting, staff turnover and shifts in direction. He is banking on a strong performance in Iowa – where his campaign has focused its efforts and DeSantis has pledged to visit every county in the Midwestern state – to keep his candidacy afloat.
DeSantis continues to languish in national opinion polls, about 40 points behind Trump. While his stance in favour of strict limits on abortion has endeared him to some religious conservatives, it has alienated more moderate voters.
He has stepped up his attacks on Trump after initially appearing reluctant to take him on, but now spends much of his time trying to fend off Haley from emerging as the party’s top Trump alternative.
A former South Carolina governor and Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, Haley has climbed steadily in the polls since August and is now locked in a tight battle with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for second place in the field.
A foreign policy hawk, Haley has taken a hardline stance on China, and she supports continued military aid to Ukraine. Her support for the eastern European country, and her emphasis on foreign policy on the campaign trail contrasts with DeSantis and Trump, both of whom have embraced isolationist policy positions and have focused on domestic issues.
Haley, 51, has also touted her relative youth compared with the septuagenarian Trump and Biden, 81, whose age has come up as a major issue for voters in polls.
Haley languished in the single digits in polls throughout much of 2023 before a string of standout debate performances starting in August boosted her standing among voters and donors.
She still trails DeSantis in most national polls, but she holds a substantial lead against DeSantis in New Hampshire and South Carolina, two early voting states in the Republican nominating contest. Both trail Trump by a significant margin nationally and in almost all states.
A former biotechnology investor and executive, Ramaswamy, 38, started a company in 2022 to pressure firms to abandon environmental, social, and corporate governance initiatives, bringing favourable attention from conservatives.
Ramaswamy created considerable political buzz and rose in some opinion polls after combative debate performances in August and September, where he laid out mostly far-right stances on many issues. Yet his poll numbers have faded in recent weeks to a national average of around 5%, suggesting he was a fad in the summer, rather than a serious, long-term contender to challenge Trump.
Ramaswamy is a fervent supporter of the former president, and says that if he won the White House, he would pardon Trump. Some analysts believe Ramaswamy is angling to be Trump’s vice presidential running mate, should the former president win the nomination, speculation that Ramaswamy denies.
Christie, 61, advised Trump’s White House campaign, but became a vocal critic of the former president after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack. The former New Jersey governor and federal prosecutor stepped up his verbal attacks as Trump faced a growing number of criminal charges.
The former Arkansas governor launched his bid for the White House in April with a call for Trump to step aside to deal with the former president’s first indictment. Hutchinson, 73, has touted his experience leading his deeply conservative state as proof he can deliver on policies Republican voters care about, citing tax cuts and job creation initiatives. But his campaign has failed to catch fire.
Biden, 81, already the oldest US president ever, will have to convince voters he has the stamina for another four years in office, amid concerns about his age and poor approval ratings. Biden allies say he believes he is the only Democratic candidate who can defeat Trump.
In announcing his candidacy, Biden declared it was his job to defend American democracy, and referred to the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol by Trump supporters. Vice President Kamala Harris, 59, is again his running mate.
The economy will factor in his reelection campaign. While the U.S. escaped an expected recession and is growing faster than economists expected, inflation hit 40-year highs in 2022 and the cost of food and gas is weighing on voters.
Biden has led the response of Western governments to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, persuading allies to sanction Russia and support Kyiv.
His administration has strongly backed Israel in its conflict with Hamas militants in Gaza, but Biden has faced hecklers at events and calls from some within his party to push for a ceasefire.
At home, he has pushed through massive economic stimulus and infrastructure spending packages to boost U.S. industrial output, although he has received little recognition from voters for the latter.
Biden’s handling of immigration policy has been criticized by Republicans and Democrats as migrant crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border hit record highs during his administration.
The best-selling author and self-help guru Marianne Williamson, 71, has launched her second, long-shot bid for the White House on a platform of “justice and love.”
She ran as a Democrat in the 2020 presidential primary but dropped out of the race before any votes had been cast. She launched her latest campaign on March 23 and will be on the ballot in the New Hampshire primary.
Dean Phillips, a little-known U.S. congressman from Minnesota, announced in October he would mount a challenge to Biden because he does not believe the president can win another term.
The 54-year-old millionaire businessman and gelato company co-founder announced his bid in a one-minute video posted online, saying: “We’ve got some challenges. … We’re going to repair this economy, and we are going to repair America.”
Robert F. Kennedy JR
An anti-vaccine activist, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., 69, is running as an independent after initially challenging Biden for the Democratic nomination, but he is far behind in opinion polls.
He is the son of US Senator Robert F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1968 during his own presidential bid. Kennedy was banned from Instagram for spreading misinformation about vaccines and the COVID-19 pandemic but was later reinstated. He lost a legal bid to force YouTube owner Google to reinstate videos of him questioning the safety of COVID vaccines.
The political activist, philosopher and academic said in June he would launch a third-party bid for president that is likely to appeal to progressive, Democratic-leaning voters.
West, 70, initially ran as a Green Party candidate, but in October he said people “want good policies over partisan politics” and announced his bid as an independent. He has promised to end poverty and guarantee housing.
Jill Stein, a physician, re-upped her 2016 Green Party bid on Nov. 9, accusing Democrats of betraying their promises “for working people, youth and the climate again and again – while Republicans don’t even make such promises in the first place.”
Stein, 73, raised millions of dollars for recounts after Trump’s surprise 2016 victory. Her allegations yielded only one electoral review in Wisconsin, which showed Trump had won.
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Published: 07 Dec 2023, 10:35 PM IST