The 2024 presidential race in the United States is heating up, with Republicans holding debates to winnow down their field of candidates and President Joe Biden making his case for four more years in the White House.
Recent polls show former President Donald Trump with a sizeable lead in the Republican race, setting the stage for a potential rematch of the 2020 election, which saw him defeated by Biden.
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But many Republicans and some Democrats also have thrown their hats into the ring to seek their party’s nominations before next year’s primaries and caucuses, state-level election contests to choose the presidential nominees.
Who is running for the Republican nomination? Who is challenging Biden’s re-election bid? What candidates have dropped out of the race?
Here, Al Jazeera looks at the US presidential candidates, their platforms and their chances:
Biden, who defeated Trump in the 2020 election, appealed to American voters on April 25 to help him defend democracy and “finish the job” he began in his first term.
“When I ran for president four years ago, I said we’re in a battle for the soul of America. And we still are,” he said in a video formally announcing his re-election campaign. “Let’s finish this job. I know we can,” he said.
An Associated Press-NORC poll released in mid-April showed that about half of Democratic voters wanted Biden to run again, with about 80 percent saying they would support him against a Republican candidate.
Biden has managed to advance several of his legislative priorities, including heightened spending to combat climate change and bolster US infrastructure.
However, he has been hampered by concerns over his age: Biden would be 82 years old at the beginning of his second term if he wins the 2024 election. Some critics have questioned whether he has the stamina to hold the top post for another four years.
The president is widely considered the presumptive Democratic nominee with the party refusing to hold primary debates.
Williamson, a former self-help author who unsuccessfully ran for the presidency in 2020, announced in March that she would run again.
She has embraced progressive themes of economic and racial justice, calling for the preservation of US Social Security retirement benefits, more robust support for labour unions and slavery reparations for Black Americans.
“During the last 50 years, the system has been rigged,” Williamson says on her website.
Despite generating some support in left-wing circles, her campaign has not been able to loosen Biden’s grip on the Democratic nomination.
A three-term US Representative from a swing district in Minnesota, millionaire businessman Dean Phillips made a surprise entry into the Democratic primary race on October 27, citing Biden’s poll numbers as a motivation.
“I love Joe Biden. I want to make that clear. I think he saved our country. He was the right man in the last election. Thank goodness he won. But that’s not what the numbers are saying now,” Phillips, the former owner of a gelato company, told CBS News.
“There is an exhausted majority in America that wants neither of these candidates,” he added, referring to Biden and his 2020 election rival, Trump.
Phillips is seen as unlikely to unseat Biden as the Democratic Party frontrunner. Nevertheless, he has loaned his own campaign $2m and pledged to hold 119 town halls across the country. Phillips began that tour in Manchester, New Hampshire, where his town hall quickly turned tense after he was asked if he supported a ceasefire amid the Israel-Hamas war.
“I just want to hear, before I answer your question, if that empathy is across humanity or only for Palestinians right now?” Phillips said to the audience member who posed the query.
Trump, who served one term as US president after defeating Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in 2016, is making another bid for the White House despite mounting legal woes, including four criminal indictments so far in 2023.
The former president — adept at tapping into anger against the US political establishment — holds a wide lead over his rivals for the Republican nomination and still commands widespread influence over the party’s voters.
He has struck a populist tone on topics such as free trade and foreign policy, where he has pursued an “America First” strategy, and has previously leaned into far-right rhetoric on immigrants and Muslims.
During his time as president, however, Trump mostly governed as a traditional Republican, and his signature legislative achievement was a set of tax breaks that largely benefitted the wealthy.
In this campaign, Trump has remained defiant in the face of criminal charges, claiming that prosecutors are trying to derail his bid for the White House.
He skipped the first Republican debate in August, arguing that people know his record. “Why would I Debate? I’M YOUR MAN,” he wrote in a social media post before the event.
DeSantis, the governor of Florida who is widely considered Trump’s top challenger for the 2024 nomination, launched his presidential campaign in May after months of unofficial campaigning.
His highly anticipated announcement, which he delivered on Twitter, was hampered by technical difficulties that led rivals — including Biden — to mock his campaign early on.
DeSantis has been rising to prominence in conservative circles as he champions right-wing causes in Florida on abortion, education and COVID-19 mitigation measures, among other issues.
“Merit must trump identity politics,” DeSantis said during the campaign launch on May 24.
In March, DeSantis described the war in Ukraine as a “territorial dispute” that is not a top US security interest, drawing questions about what a potential presidential victory would mean for Washington’s support to Kyiv amid the Russian invasion.
According to recent public opinion polls, Trump enjoys a huge lead over DeSantis nationally, as well as in early primary states.
Haley, a former US ambassador to the United Nations, announced that she would seek the Republican nomination in February.
While Haley has been reserved in her criticism of Trump, she stated in her announcement that it was “time for a new generation” of Republican leaders.
The daughter of Indian immigrants, she served as the governor of the state of South Carolina from 2011 to 2017.
As Washington’s envoy to the UN during the Trump administration, she advocated for taking a confrontational stance towards Iran and was a strong supporter of US allies in the region, notably Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Public opinion polls show she remains far behind Trump in the GOP nomination race.
Christie, the former governor of New Jersey, filed paperwork with US election authorities declaring his candidacy on June 6.
He portrays himself as a winning conservative who ran a Democratic-leaning state between 2010 and 2018. In recent months, Christie also has emerged as one of the most vocal Republican critics of Trump.
But he was once a close ally of the former president and endorsed Trump in the 2016 Republican primaries after ending his own bid for the presidency at that time.
The former governor also has criticised DeSantis and Trump over their scepticism of US support for Ukraine after Russia’s invasion of the country.
Christie’s candidacy is a long-shot campaign.
Ramaswamy, an entrepreneur and author, entered the presidential race in February.
He has built a reputation as a crusader against “wokeism”, a loose term that generally refers to a commitment to social justice that has been wielded by conservatives to paint an image of political correctness gone amok.
Ramaswamy was born in the state of Ohio and graduated from Yale Law School before going to work at a hedge fund and starting a pharmaceutical company.
He received a flood of attention after the first Republican presidential debate on August 23, during which he was a frequent target of attacks by his rivals, including over his proposal to no longer provide military aid to Ukraine.
He has been rising in the polls but remains far behind Trump.
Hutchinson, a Trump critic and former governor of Arkansas, launched his campaign on April 26.
He previously served as a US congressman and as undersecretary in the Department of Homeland Security during the tenure of former President George W Bush.
Hutchison has struggled to gain support among Republicans. While he qualified for the first Republican primary debate, he fell short of the poll numbers needed to appear at the second one.
Robert F Kennedy Jr
Kennedy, the nephew of former US President John F Kennedy, formally launched his candidacy in April, initially entering the race as a Democrat.
On October 9, however, he dropped out of the Democratic primary race, choosing instead to run as an independent.
The son of Robert Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1968 while campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination, he is a member of one of the most famous families in US politics.
But Kennedy’s campaign has primarily been defined by his prominent role in the anti-vaccine movement. He published a book in 2021 accusing former White House COVID-19 adviser Anthony Fauci of “a historic coup d’etat against Western democracy”.
Kennedy has promised to push back against the “corrupt merger between state and corporate power” if elected. His campaign remains a long shot, though experts say he could draw votes from both Democrats and Republicans.
West, a prominent US intellectual and philosopher, said in a tweet on June 5 that he was running for president as a third-party candidate with the Movement for a People’s Party.
The progressive party was formed in the wake of the 2016 presidential election and had unsuccessfully courted Senator Bernie Sanders as its figurehead.
In his video announcement, West said he had “decided to run for truth and justice, which takes the form of running for president”.
The former Harvard University professor’s platform includes “fighting to end poverty, mass incarceration, ending wars and ecological collapse, [and] guaranteeing housing, health care, education and living wages for all”.
A physician and activist from Massachusetts, Stein launched her third-party bid for president on November 9, announcing she would campaign for the Green Party’s nomination.
In an online video announcing her bid, she positioned herself as an alternative to the traditional two-party system.
“The political system is broken. The two Wall Street parties are bought and paid for,” she said, referring to the Democrats and Republicans. “Change won’t come from the ruling elites. It comes from we the people.”
Critics have sometimes blamed Stein, a left-leaning politician, for drawing votes away from Democrats like Hillary Clinton, who lost to Trump in 2016. Stein previously ran in that race as well as in 2012.
She has never held state or national office. Her platform includes a “Green New Deal” to fight climate change and an “economic bill of rights” that includes guarantees for job security, healthcare and housing. She also is an outspoken critic of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and has called for an investigation into his government’s actions in Gaza.
On December 4, just two days ahead of the fourth Republican primary debate, Burgum — a former software executive and current governor of North Dakota — announced an end to his long-shot bid.
In his departure statement, Burgum took a parting shot at US politics and the media landscape.
“While this primary process has shaken my trust in many media organizations and political party institutions, it has only strengthened my trust in America,” he wrote.
Burgum initially launched his presidential bid in the pages of the Wall Street Journal, with a June opinion article.
A multimillionaire, he later kept his campaign afloat with a strategy of offering gift cards in exchange for campaign donations — a scheme that allowed him to meet the minimum number of donors to qualify for the first two Republican debates.
He failed to meet the national polling threshold for the third debate, however.
Burgum had also sought to portray his relatively low national profile as a strength, saying he was far removed from the bitter war of words of the more prominent candidates.
On November 12, Scott appeared on Fox News to announce he would no longer be running for president in the 2024 cycle.
“I think the voters — who are the most remarkable people on the planet — have been really clear that they’re telling me, ‘Not now, Tim,'” he said on the TV programme Sunday Night in America.
A Republican senator from South Carolina, Scott officially launched his campaign in May, promising a “revolution for excellence” in the country’s education system. He declined to endorse another candidate in the hours after ending his run.
Scott, like his colleagues in the Republican field, trailed frontrunner Trump by significant margins, and critics said his campaign’s positive messaging failed to resonate with voters.
Scott, who is the only Black Republican in the Senate, often highlighted his own humble beginnings as evidence that the US is “the land of opportunity and not a land of oppression”, dismissing claims of systemic racism.
Pence, who served as Trump’s vice president, made a surprise exit from the race on October 28, as he addressed the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas, Nevada.
“It’s become clear to me: This is not my time,” he told the coalition’s annual meeting. “So after much prayer and deliberation, I have decided to suspend my campaign for president effective today.”
At the time of his departure, Pence was the highest-profile candidate to end his campaign for the Republican nomination. But he had long trailed Trump, his former boss with whom he had a falling-out after the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021.
Pence has accused Trump of having “endangered” his family with his “reckless words”, including his unsubstantiated claims that the 2020 elections were fraudulent. Trump allegedly pressured Pence and other politicians to overturn the outcome of that vote.
Since their schism, Pence has tried to establish himself as a principled alternative to Trump: a candidate who would be guided by his Christian faith. During his campaign, he distinguished himself as the only prominent candidate to back a nationwide abortion ban at six weeks of pregnancy, and he pledged to take the abortion pill mifepristone off the market to “protect the unborn”.
He has also set himself apart by vocally supporting US aid to Ukraine.
Pence had formally declared his candidacy for president in June. He previously served as Indiana governor and a member of the US House of Representatives.
A conservative talk radio host, Elder ended his campaign for the Republican nomination on October 26, throwing his support behind Donald Trump instead.
“We must unite behind Donald Trump to beat Joe Biden and fight back against Biden’s unprecedented election interference,” Elder wrote in a post on social media, referencing false claims that the 2020 election was “stolen” from Trump.
Elder failed to make waves in his bid for the presidency, falling short of the requirements needed to participate in the first two Republican primary debates. He and fellow candidate Perry Johnson pledged to sue the Republican National Committee over their exclusion.
Elder announced his run for the presidency on April 20. Previously, he was best known for challenging California’s Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom in a recall vote in 2021.
Newsom easily beat back that recall attempt, which failed by a margin of about 62 to 38 percent.
Hurd, a former US congressman from Texas, suspended his campaign for the Republican nomination on October 9, throwing his support instead behind Haley’s bid.
A former US congressman from Texas, Hurd exited the race much as he entered it: with harsh words for Republican frontrunner Trump.
“If the Republican party nominates Donald Trump or the various personalities jockeying to imitate his divisive, crass behavior, we will lose,” he wrote on the social media platform X.
An undercover CIA officer before his political career, he has said Republicans need “to articulate a different vision” than that of “a lawless, selfish, failed politician” like Trump.
Since entering the race in June, Hurd failed to garner much support, making him ineligible to participate in the first two Republican primary debates.
Suarez, the mayor of Miami, Florida, became the first major candidate to drop out of the race on August 29, just days after he failed to qualify for the first Republican debate.
The son of Miami’s first Cuban-born mayor, Suarez was one of three Republican hopefuls from Florida, alongside Trump and DeSantis, both of whom he criticised. He was also a champion of cryptocurrency and other tech ventures.
His campaign may be best remembered for a radio interview in which Suarez asked, “What is a Uighur?” when discussing his position on China.
This article was last updated on December 4, 2023.