With less than 9 months remaining until US voters decide who will serve as president of the United States from January 2025 to January 2029, a number of outspoken Republicans have already fallen by the wayside in the hunt for the GOP presidential nomination, while at least two Democrats have challenged President Joe Biden in a Democratic primary.
As the campaign takes shape, here are the names you need to know.
Mr Biden is the current president of the United States and is gunning for a second term, having announced his re-election bid in a video message on 25 April 2023
Mr Biden, 81, is the oldest person to ever serve as president and his lacklustre approval ratings fuelled speculation that he might stand down so a younger candidate could take up the Democratic Party mantle.
But the Democrats’ better-than-expected results in the 2022 midterms appeared to put new wind in Mr Biden’s sails before he officially announced his 2024 run.
Mr Trump, 77, officially filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to declare himself a candidate in the 2024 election on 15 November 2022.
Mr Trump is the only US president to face two separate impeachment trials – one after fomenting a violent attack on the US Capitol in hopes of remaining in power, despite losing the 2020 election to Mr Biden.
He announced his candidacy at Mar-a-Lago, the same Palm Beach, Florida, location where FBI agents had conducted a search for stolen classified documents just three months earlier.
The ex-real estate developer-turned-television-presenter-turned-politician is hoping he can become the first ex-US chief executive to reclaim the White House since Grover Cleveland.
Mr Trump faces a series of obstacles threatening what was once assumed to be a smooth glide path to the GOP nomination, not least four criminal indictments and 91 separate criminal charges against him.
His campaign suffered a major setback on 19 December 2023, however, when the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that he must be disqualified from 2024 ballots in the state.
The state of Maine followed soon after.
It’s an unprecedented order finding him constitutionally ineligible to hold office in light of his role in engaging in the failed coup of 6 January 2021 – a violation of the oath he swore as commander-in-chief.
Mr Trump’s team has appealed the ruling, which has the potential to bring an end to his candidacy should it stand and other states decide to act accordingly.
On 15 February, Ms Haley, 51, announced that she would enter the race.
In a video released by her campaign, she even went so far as to take a veiled swipe at Mr Trump by noting that “seven out of the last eight presidential elections” have seen the GOP candidate lose the popular vote.
Ms Haley is the former governor of South Carolina and spent two years as Mr Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations. During that time garnered some media attention for her sauve ability to avoid engaging with the controversies that engulfed Mr Trump’s administration while remaining in his good graces.
Although the former governor-turned-diplomat previously pledged not to run for 2024 if Mr Trump was still running, she appears to have thrown that non-campaign promise away.
She also said it is “time for a new generation of leadership” who will “rediscover fiscal responsibility, secure our border and strengthen our country, our pride and our purpose”.
She has since emerged as the only significant Republican challenger to Mr Trump after a number of rivals dropped out at early stages and has drawn the front-runner’s fire, particularly over her insistence that he is too old and not mentally competent to run for the White House a second time, responding to a number of high-profile gaffes he has made in his rally speeches (including confusing her with Nancy Pelosi).
Robert F Kennedy Jr
Mr Kennedy, a lawyer, vaccine-sceptic and the son of US senator Robert F Kennedy, filed candidacy papers with the FEC on 5 April 2023.
The filing places the 69-year-old as the second long-shot Democratic candidate to challenge President Biden after Marianne Williamson, who dropped out on 7 February).
While he intends to run as a Democrat, Mr Kennedy Jr has ties to former president Mr Trump.
In 2017, he was tapped by the then-president-elect to oversee a presidential panel to review vaccine safety and science – despite having repeatedly expressed scepticism about vaccines. He continued pushing those beliefs throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Kennedy Jr’s father, the late New York senator, was a candidate in the 1968 presidential election before he was assassinated.
His uncle, John F Kennedy, the 35th president of the US, was assassinated in 1963.
The presidential candidate eventually switched his party affiliation from Democratic to Independent.
Pastor and businessman Mr Binkley announced his entrance into the 2024 race on 9 May 2023 – another long-shot contender to challenge Mr Trump for the 2024 Republican nomination.
“We have to be unified,” Mr Binkley, 55, said at one event.
“We have to be in this place, because if we’re in a time of uncertainty, what it’s going to take is faith in God and faith in each other to get us through, and it’s not time for us to back down. It’s time for us to believe.”
Mr Binkley has said he is “absolutely” confident that he could take on Mr Trump, despite having little name recognition and no experience holding elected office.
Mr Phillips, the Democratic representative for Minnesota, announced he would challenge Mr Biden for the White House on 26 October 2023.
“ I know this campaign is a long shot, but that is why I think it is important and worth doing,” Mr Phillips said in his announcement.
Mr Phillips, 54, said he was running to serve as an alternate Democratic candidate to President Biden, whom he believes should not run due to his age and low approval rating.
“President Biden is a good man and someone I tremendously respect. I understand why other Democrats don’t want to run against him, and why we are here,” Mr Phillips wrote on X.
“If President Biden is the Democratic nominee, we face an unacceptable risk of Trump being back in the White House.”
Mr Phillips, who was elected to Congress in 2018, said his campaign will focus on making the economy better, life more affordable for the middle class and improving safety.
The former Green Party presidential candidate announced she would enter the 2024 race on 9 November 2023.
Ms Stein, 73, is once again seeking the third-party nomination.
In an announcement video posted to social media, Ms Stein called the two-party political system “broken”.
“The two Wall Street parties are bought and paid for. Over 60 per cent of us now say the bipartisan establishment has failed us and we need a party that serves the people,” Ms Stein said.
Ms Stein, a medical doctor, ran for president in 2016 with the Green Party and received roughly 1.4 million votes nationally.
Some analysts have argued that had her supporters voted for Hillary Clinton in key battleground states like Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, the Democrats would have won the 2016 election.
Called it quits
Mr Hurd, 45, a former CIA officer and representative for Texas, announced his bid for the Republican nomination on 22 June 2023.
Approximately three months later on 9 October, Mr Hurd suspended his campaign.
Mr Hurd positioned himself as a moderate alternative to the field of GOP candidates while remaining critical of Mr Trump.
The former Texas congressman served in the House for six years before leaving in 2021. He was the only Black Republican in the chamber during his final two terms.
While in Congress, Mr Hurd’s district was one of the most competitive in Texas. It included parts of San Antonio and El Paso as well as included most of the Texas border with Mexico.
In his campaign suspension announcement, Mr Hurd urged voters to be “united around an alternative candidate to Trump”.
“Otherwise, we will repeat the same errors as in 2016. If the Republican party nominates Donald Trump or the various personalities jockeying to imitate his divisive, crass behaviour, we will lose,” he said.
Mr Johnson, 75, is a businessman who tried to run for governor of Michigan in 2022 but was disqualified due to invalid signatures.
But the hiccup didn’t stop Mr Johnson from aiming big and making a long-shot, and short-lived, bid for president.
On 3 March 2023, Mr Johnson announced his bid for president in Iowa where he claimed to be: “Pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, anti-woke and anti-China”.
He notably has promoted a plan to cut federal spending by two per cent every year and pushing to complete the US-Mexico border wall.
Mr Johnson suspended his campaign on 20 October saying, “With no opportunity to share my vision on the debate stage, I have decided at this time, suspending my campaign is the right thing to do,”
Mr Suarez, the mayor of Miami, filed paperwork with the FEC on 14 June 2023, throwing his hat in the ring of an already packed Republican nomination race.
But that did not last long as he chose to suspend his campaign on 29 August after failing to qualify for the first Republican debate.
Mr Suarez, 45, is a Cuban-American who has made a name for himself in Miami, and Florida, as a tough-on-crime conservative. But outside of the state, he is largely unknown.
Some may remember Mr Suarez as one of the first people to contract Covid-19 in Miami-Dade County in March 2020. He documented his progression with the illness to help others understand it better.
Despite his relative obscurity, Mr Suarez expressed confidence that being the only Hispanic candidate gave him “a lot of credibility,” according to the AP.
In his resignation announcement on X, Mr Suarez said: “While I have decided to suspend my campaign for President, my commitment to making this a better nation for every American remains.”
He added that he looks forward to supporting the eventual nominee.
Mr Elder, a former attorney, and current conservative talk radio host, announced on 20 April 2023 on Tucker Carlson Tonight that he would be running for president in 2024.
The right-wing candidate said that he felt a “moral, religious, and a patriotic duty” to join the race for president. He named policing, crime and government overreach as areas of concern.
Prior to his announcement, Mr Elder had been the host of the popular conservative radio programme The Larry Elder Show on KABC since 1993. He left in April 2022.
Mr Elder has some political experience as he unsuccessfully ran to replace California governor Gavin Newsom in 2021.
On 26 October, he suspended his campaign and gave his support to Mr Trump.
Former US vice president Mr Pence officially entered the 2024 presidential race on 7 June after much speculation that he would try to take on his former boss Mr Trump.
“Today our party and our country need a leader that will appeal, as Lincoln said, to the better angels of our nature,” Mr Pence said in his campaign kickoff speech in Iowa.
He suspended his campaign just four months later.
Mr Pence, 64, was once Mr Trump’s steadfast right-hand man until he made the decision not to unlawfully hijack Congress’ certification of Electoral College votes to keep Mr Trump in office in 2020.
Since then, a rift has been driven between the two men – though Mr Pence continues to not publicly criticise Mr Trump in the same way other anti-Trump Republicans have.
Mr Pence has made it clear that he would not do things the way the ex-president did during their four years in office together but still promote the traditional conservative values he holds.
Mr Pence announced on 28 October that he would suspend his presidential campaign, saying: “This is not my time.”
South Carolina senator Tim Scott officially entered the race for Republican presidential nominee on 19 May 2023 after filing his paperwork with the FEC.
He suspended his campaign on 12 November, approximately six months after he first made that announcement.
Mr Scott, 57, became the first Black senator to represent a state that had been part of the Confederacy during the American Civil War and the first Black Republican since Massachusetts senator Edward Brooke was elected in 2013.
He has long been considered a rising star in the Republican Party and was given the honour of delivering the party’s response to President Biden’s inaugural address to Congress in 2021.
He began his campaign with more money than any of his 2024 rivals – roughly $22m that he can automatically convert from his US Senate campaign account to a presidential campaign.
This is the most any candidate in history has had at the beginning of a campaign for president, according to the FEC.
Mr Scott ended his campaign due to a lack of voter support.
“The voters, who are the most remarkable people on the planet, have been really clear that they’re telling me, ‘not now, Tim.’” Mr Scott told Fox News.
He has since stumped for Mr Trump in New Hampshire in emphatic fashion.
The governor of North Dakota said he too would be running for the Republican nominee in the presidential election on 7 June 2023.
A matter of months later, on 4 December, Mr Burgum announced he would be suspending his campaign.
The virtually-unknown governor was a software entrepreneur before he was elected to his gubernatorial position in 2016.
In a preview video released the day before his initial announcement, Mr Burgum, 66, called himself “a new leader for a changing economy,” indicating his campaign would focus on kitchen-table issues.
Mr Burgum has dipped his toe into some of the contemporary social issues that many Americans are concerned about when looking at a new candidate.
He is anti-abortion – having signed a near-total abortion ban in North Dakota – and anti-transgender, having signed eight anti-transgender laws.
In a statement shared on the day he suspended his campaign, the governor angrily rebuked the Republican National Committee for the debate requirements that forced him off the stage.
The pugnacious ex-New Jersey governor and ally-turned-critic of Mr Trump, entered the Republican presidential primary to directly challenge the man he endorsed after failing to gain traction in the GOP field nearly eight years ago.
In a town hall in New Hampshire on 6 June 2023, Mr Christie, 60, announced his campaign by positioning himself as a moderate-conservative alternative to Mr Trump who he referred to as a “self-consumed, self-serving, mirror hog”.
He suspended his campaign several months later on 10 January, just five days before the Iowa caucuses, after failing to qualify for what proved to be the final televised GOP debate.
Mr Christie twice endorsed Mr Trump for president in 2016 and 2020 but turned on him after the candidate refused to concede and ultimately encouraged the 6 January riot at the US Capitol.
The former governor has since been outspoken about his disdain for Mr Trump and made it very clear in his 2024 campaign that he planned to take him on head first.
Upon suspending his campaign, Mr Christie warned voters about the future of the Republican Party should Mr Trump be elected again.
Mr Ramaswamy, a wealthy biotechnology entrepreneur and conservative activist, announced his intention to compete in the 2024 Republican primary during an appearance on Tucker Carlson’s eponymous Fox News programme before the host’s acrimonious departure from the network.
Mr Ramaswamy, 37, is a Yale Law School graduate. He has become somewhat of a celebrity in right-wing circles for his denunciations of stakeholder capitalism, big tech censorship and critical race theory.
In 2022, he founded Strive Asset Management, an “anti-woke” investment firm opposed to businesses that use environmental, social and corporate governance practices.
The candidate suspended his campaign immediately after the Iowa caucuses on 15 January, after picking up just 8 per cent of the vote, immediately endorsing Mr Trump, championing him on Fox and appearing with him at a campaign rally in New Hampshire later that week.
He appeared popular with the Maga crowd during that appearance and immediately inspired speculation that he could be a future Trump cabinet member – or even running mate.
The former governor of Arkansas formally announced his campaign for president on 26 April 2023.
In Bentonville, Arkansas, Mr Hutchinson, 72, told supporters he is “optimistic” about the future of the US and hopes to carry out the same “conservative values” to the White House that he did as governor.
“In this campaign for president, I stand alone in terms of my experience, record and leadership,” Mr Hutchinson said.
Before becoming governor, Mr Hutchinson was a representative for Arkansas, an administrator for the US Drug Enforcement Administration and transportation security of the US Department of Homeland Security under former president George W Bush.
Mr Hutchinson discussed the economy, crime and border security during his campaign kick-off speech.
But after a dismal showing in the Iowa caucuses, Mr Hutchinson announced he would be suspending his campaign a day later and subsequently endorsed Ms Haley.
The current governor of Florida announced his campaign on 24 May 2023 after months of speculation by many in the Republican Party that he would be the perfect successor to Mr Trump.
Mr DeSantis, 44, is a former Florida congressman who won his 2018 gubernatorial campaign after receiving a coveted endorsement from Mr Trump.
He was viewed by Republican pundits as a worthy avatar of the current “anti-woke” GOP and his star has been on the rise in conservative circles since he made a show of ending any, and all, pandemic-related restrictions and mandates in the Sunshine State.
When Mr DeSantis took the stage at his 2022 election victory party, supporters even chanted “two more years” in a nod to his potential status as a GOP presidential contender.
However, after months of hard-fought campaigning in Iowa he finished second, ahead of Ms Haley but still almost 30 points behind Mr Trump.
He announced he was suspending his campaign on 21 January 2024, some 36 hours before the New Hampshire primary, saying current polling suggested he had “no clear path to victory” in a video message in which he misquoted Winston Churchill and endorsed Mr Trump, who had spent the better part of a year taunting him as “Ron DeSanctimonious”, making him the 2024 incarnation of Ted Cruz.
After a lot of initial promise the governor’s campaign simply never took off.
He failed to connect with voters who found him temperamental and awkward in person, while the decision to wear cowboy boots to make himself appear taller and a silly rumour that he was in the habit of eating chocolate pudding with his fingers did not help his cause.
The self-help author and former spiritual adviser to television mogul Oprah Winfrey, who participated in several Democratic primary debates during the 2020 election, entered the 2024 race to challenge Mr Biden for the Democratic presidential nomination.
“I wouldn’t be running for president if I didn’t believe I could contribute to harnessing the collective sensibility that I feel is our greatest hope at this time,” she said.
During her aborted 2020 presidential run, she garnered a measure of notoriety for making statements widely considered bizarre, such as a vow to make then-New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern the first head of government she would call as president, and an assertion that she would win the election by “harness[ing] love for political purposes” against Mr Trump.
Ms Williamson ended her campaign on Thursday, 8 February after failing to obtain enough support in New Hampshire and Nevada.
Joe Sommerlad contributed to this report.
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