So You Think You Can Rule the World?: Quick Impressions on Biden’s 2024 Challengers

Written by Grant Lefelar

You probably didn’t know this, but there’s an election next year. Not just any routine election where a small-town businessman with some cash to burn and a spiffy suit tries to outmaneuver another well-dressed businessman for the right to put “Alternate Village Councilor for District 3” on their resume. No, this is the big one — the biggest — complete with millions of wasted dollars on tacky, uber-patriotic advertising, thousands of grossly underpaid staffers, and spin doctors with the moxy to lie to their own mother. All this his and plenty more to earn the coveted title of “Leader of the Free World” and the customary bragging rights that go along with it.

Despite being over a year out, the 2024 election cycle is just around the corner, with primaries held as soon as this January. Our elderly uncle-in-chief Joe Biden baffled every reasonable political observer by announcing his run for a second term in April. As polls have consistently shown that three out of four Americans do not want an 82-year-old to be within grasping distance of the nuclear football — including nearly half of his own party’s members — candidates from left, right, center, further left, and further right have stepped up to challenge Biden. These aspiring world leaders have already released a stream of overproduced announcement videos, thousands of desperate donor solicitation emails, and espoused positions on the most pressing issues (whether or not they believe them). 

With nearly a majority of Democrats not wanting anything to do with Ole’ Joe come noon on January 20, 2025, a gaping void has emerged in the party — a gap that several young, inspiring, intelligent candidates could fill. So, who has lined up to provide this challenge to the White House’s current occupant: a scatterbrained vaccine conspiracy theorist skirting by on his family’s name and a California hippie whose claim to fame was appearing on Oprah over 30 years ago. 

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., member of the Kennedy family 

There’s a lot I can say about RFK Jr. — namely, he’s insane. RFK Jr. has spent most of the past 20 years spewing a constant barrage of nonsense on how vaccines cause autism in children while never backing it up with any scientific proof. However, because he hails from the glorious Kennedy family and, as we all know, Kennedys can never do anything wrong, the media has propped him up over the years as a respectable figure we should take seriously. 

Thankfully, now that RFK Jr. has emerged as one of Biden’s harshest critics within his party, the media has suddenly had their “come to Jesus” moment and has ended their decades-long love feast for Bobby the Younger. 

While the mainstream press has shunned him, right-wingers have taken a fancy to RFK Jr. over his criticisms of Biden, ignoring the fact he once argued climate change skeptics should rot in jail. But in the world of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” RFK Jr.’s specific politics don’t matter. 

One redeeming factor is that his wife is Cheryl Hines, best known for her role in the brilliant Curb Your Enthusiasm. If Larry David comes to his senses, a great storyline for the upcoming season should be Ted Danson running for elected office with Cheryl on his arm as Larry does everything in his bumbling power to sabotage his campaign. Take notes LD!

Marianne Williamson, bestselling author 

My girl Marianne. She too is a bit out there in a Boomer hippie, essential oils, “live, laugh, love” kind of way. But she’s not AS out there as RFK Jr., so take that as you will. 

If you grew up with a mom who religiously watched Oprah during the 90s and 2000s, there is a better chance than not that your mother either owns one of her new-age spirituality books or might end up voting for her. 

Her first run in 2020 was met with some fanfare among those who found her candidacy funny and ridiculous (like myself). However, given how she hasn’t attracted much attention since her announcement in March, it’s fair to say Americans have lost the love for her. 

Meanwhile, on the Republican side, the GOP has made their own pig’s breakfast of the proceedings with 13 candidates — some old, some new — jumping head first into the flames.

Doug Burgum, Gov. of North Dakota 

I have a soft spot for Doug. Sure, he doesn’t have a chance, but he’s the best guy out there based on pure reasonableness alone. He seems to care about the forbidden BIG ISSUES — boring stuff like the economy — while mostly ignoring the culture war hot topics that spoil after a day and a half basking in the hot sun of Twitter. That may not groove well with the GOP base, but it earns a place in my bitter heart. 

Doug also gets extra points for the semi-mullet he used to rock when he was a 90s tech billionaire. Also, his cozy, rustic branding is a feast for the eyes in our modern hellscape of bland corporate graphic design. 

In short, not a ton of bad things I can say about this guy, even if I wanted to. 

Chris Christie, fmr. Gov. of New Jersey

Chris…honey…baby…darling…you had a good thing going until you threw it away by closing down some bridge lanes to spite some mayor who didn’t like you. Why you can’t stay content with your CNN contributorship is beyond my comprehension. 

Christie’s pitch is that he’s a fighter that will fight Trump head-on — he’s a Jersey boy; listens to Bruce Springsteen; hangs out on the Shore; can probably pick up and throw down a guy like a golden age WWF wrestler; etc. 

But he’s not in it for Republican voters or to take on Trump; he’s in it to retool his brand after suffering as one of Trump’s lackeys during the 2016 election and leaving office as a highly unpopular governor. It’s a rebrand campaign — not a presidential one — and voters should view it as such. 

Larry Elder, fmr. talk radio host 

I will only waste a single word on him, so here it goes: why? 

Will Hurd, fmr. U.S. Representative 

Hurd would fit in better as a centrist Democrat, but he hasn’t quite overcome his deeply instilled-GOP partisan identity. Has no chance to poll beyond one percent — and he knows it — but wants us to believe he’s in the race for the “right reasons” and to save the GOP from itself. 

Asa Hutchinson, fmr. Gov. of Arkansas 

Keeping country club conservatism alive, even if it died two election cycles ago — which I can respect. Fore!

Perry Johnson, businessman

This “quality guru” is either pulling a fast one on voters and grifting his way onto the debate stage, or he convinced himself he will somehow become president. After diving deep into his content and watching him, I lean towards the latter. 

He has his own reality show on his website following him on the campaign trail, which as a dedicated follower of bad television, I highly recommend. 

Francis Suarez, Mayor of Miami 

Major aspect of Suarez’s campaign is him branding himself as the Bitcoin-friendly candidate, which tells you all you need to know. 

Nikki Haley, fmr. Gov. of South Carolina 

She passed her moment in the spotlight in 2016, but is the most electable candidate in the running that would beat Biden in the general. 

Tim Scott, U.S. Senator from South Carolina

Word of advice: wait till 2028. There is not enough room in the race for two South Carolina candidates, let alone two GOOD South Carolina candidates. Don’t split the Palmetto State vote. 

Vivek Ramaswamy, businessman

I’ve seen plenty of candidates run to get their names out there among the public and/or put themselves in consideration for cabinet positions or their party’s VP slot, but nobody has done it as shamelessly as Vivek. 

Ron DeSantis, Gov. of Florida 

DeSantis has woken up on the wrong side of the bed since his campaign’s bungled Elon Musk-hosted Twitter Spaces launch, and it shows. While an effective Governor, no matter what you think of his policies, he has failed to dazzle prospective primary voters despite the initial hype. 

It would be best for him if he sat this cycle out and waited for voters to crown him as the GOP nominee in 2028. Tough luck, Ronny!

Mike Pence, fmr. Vice President 

While standing up to Donny T. over his bizarre election fraud claims during the Capitol storming is admirable, it does not make for a convincing campaign pitch. 

My advice: take your place rightfully on your high horse and ride into the sunset with a cushy book deal. 

Donald Trump, fmr. President of the United States 

I’ve become slowly resigned to the fact that he will be the three-peat nominee while simultaneously being thrown in jail — which will somehow make him more popular and powerful. As depressing as I find that, I am highly amused by it too in a “laughing through the pain” way. You can’t kill the Teflon Don!

I’m not expecting anything new in 2024. As Americans apparently did not fully experience the last cycle in all its horrific glory, we are bound to get a repeat of it. But the question remains: will Biden continue to bore his way to the top like in 2020 or will Trump use his voodoo magic to get himself over the line like in 2016?

We have over a year until American voters answer that question. Buckle up!

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