The 2024 U.S. presidential election is entering its tough phase with a primary season that promises to be very exciting in the Republican camp.
Former President Donald Trump is running for the third time in a row. He announced his presidential bid on Nov. 15, and since then has been the favorite for the GOP nomination in all the polls.
The twice impeached Trump keeps an iron fist on the base of the Grand Old Party (GOP), that his recent legal difficulties have only reinforced. True to form, he even transformed being found liable for sexual abuse and defamation into a fundraising money from the base.
As in previous election campaigns, he has managed to make the choice for 2024 revolve around him, giving his competitors little space. The most serious of these rivals in the Republican primaries is, according to pundits, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
Last year DeSantis appeared to be the candidate of choice for the big donors to the Republican Party. The big bosses naturally leaned towards him, praising his economic record and his handling of the pandemic. He was, according to them, a young conservative politician capable of bringing together the base and the Republican establishment.
GOP Mega Donors Looking for a Fresh Face
He was also supposedly the candidate capable of beating Trump. This argument was important, because they were all calling for the emergence of a new generation of leaders.
“America does better when its leaders are rooted in today and tomorrow, not today and yesterday,” Stephen Schwarzman, Chief Executive Officer of private equity titan Blackstone (BX) – Get Free Report, said one day after Trump announced his candidacy.
“It is time for the Republican party to turn to a new generation of leaders, and I intend to support one of them in the presidential primaries,” said Schwarzman, who donated $3.7 million during Trump’s first term to committees which supported the controversial president.
Billionaire Ken Griffin, another major Republican donor and the Chief Executive Officer of alternative investment firm Citadel, was also one of Trump’s staunchest critics, calling for him to retire from politics.
“I’d like to think that the Republican party is ready to move on from somebody who has been for this party a three-time loser,” Griffin said, referring to the Republican Party’s poor performance in the 2018 mid-term elections, Trump’s own defeat in the 2020 presidential election, and the GOP’s worse-than-expected performance in the 2022 mid-terms.
Elon Musk, at the time the richest man in the world, was among those who saw DeSantis as a winner if he was chosen by Republicans to be their candidate.
“Trump would be 82 at end of term, which is too old to be chief executive of anything, let alone the United States of America,” Musk said last July. “If DeSantis runs against Biden in 2024, then DeSantis will easily win – he doesn’t even need to campaign.”
Musk Shows Interest in Tim Scott
These and other remarks made by the serial entrepreneur and CEO of Tesla clearly suggested that the governor of Florida, 44, would be his champion for 2024. However, the Techno King’s recent activity on Twitter, the social network he has owned since October, suggests that Musk is still shopping for 2024.
On May 19, he praised South Carolina Republican Senator Tim Scott after he filed the paperwork for a presidential bid. The tech mogul particularly appreciated Scott’s message.
Scott, who is the only black senator in the Republican camp, announced his presidential bid in a May 19 video.
“Today’s kids are growing up, immersed in a culture where everyone’s a victim,” Scott said in a 30-second video. “We have to start teaching the necessity of individual responsibility.”
“If you are able bodied, you work; if you take out a loan, you pay it back; if you commit a violent crime, you go to jail,” the Republican presidential hopeful continued.
“Great statement by @votetimscott!” Musk commented.
Three days later, the billionaire has just retweeted a post by Scott, accompanied by the video.
“Let’s go!” Scott wrote.
“Joe Biden and the radical left are attacking every rung of the ladder that helped me climb,” Scott said in the event at his alma mater, Charleston Southern University, on May 22. “And that is why I am announcing today that I am running for president of the United States of America.”
Musk did not comment, but by retweeting the post and the video he’s giving Scott colossal exposure. Musk is the most influential CEO in the world and has 140 million Twitter followers. He became a hero among conservatives after he decided to make Twitter a bastion of free speech, by removing safeguards related to hateful, racist and anti-Semitic propaganda as well as disinformation.
Scott’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
The retweet led many users to ask whether Musk, who voted Republican for the first time in the 2022 primary elections, was going to vote for Scott in the primary.
“Is Elon Musk supporting Tim Scott for president?” one Twitter user asked the tech mogul.
“If not for Elon Musk retweeting this, it would only have a handful of viewers,” commented another user.
“And now we know who Elon Musk will be voting for,” said another Twitter user.
Musk did not respond. Interestingly, Musk did not retweet Trump or former UN ambassador Nikki Haley’s candidacy announcements.
Billionaires Abandoning DeSantis
DeSantis is expected to announce his own presidential bid in the coming days.
It is at this moment that the billionaire, who has promised to spend between $20 and $25 million to support the candidate of his choice in 2024, may announce his choice. Musk has repeated in recent weeks that it would be nice to have someone “normal” in the White House, without specifying what he means by normal.
In the past, Musk has often proceeded in stages when he wants to make a major decision on geopolitical issues and topics. He tests the waters by making a neutral statement which he follows up with other equally neutral gestures, before making his announcement. It is difficult to know whether it is the same approach that he applies here. In any case, if he were to support Scott, it would be a huge blow for DeSantis, who recently lost the support of two important billionaires.
Schwarzman and Thomas Peterffy, chairman of Interactive Brokers (IBKR) – Get Free Report, have decided to withhold their support within the GOP field. Peterffy even went so far as to say that he and his friends were going to pause their financial support for DeSantis.
The reason given was that they condemn his “extreme positions on social issues.”