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The 2024 U.S. presidential election season kicked into a new phase Monday, with former President Donald Trump prevailing in the Iowa Republican caucuses, which marked the first vote in the race to the White House.

While Trump established himself as the clear frontrunner for the Republican nomination—earning more than 50 percent of votes and 20 delegates—long-shot candidate Vivek Ramaswamy suspended his campaign after finishing a distant fourth behind Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley. “There is no path for me to be the next president absent things that we don’t want to see happen in this country,” the 38-year-old Ramaswamy said.

The entrepreneur is the second Republican candidate to bow out in less than a week, with former New Jersey governor Chris Christie leaving the field on January 10.

Trump won easily in Iowa, even though he skipped each primary debate and has been in headlines for a civil fraud trial brought against him by New York Attorney General Letitia James. His list of viable challengers is now down to DeSantis and Haley, who recently gained 10 points in a poll of New Hampshire voters. Former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson is also still running.

On the Democratic side, Minnesota Representative Dean Phillips and Marianne Williamson are challenging current President Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination. Meanwhile, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is hoping to play spoiler for everyone as an independent candidate.

Here’s a brief primer on all the major 2024 presidential candidates. We will continue to update this article as the election draws closer.

[table-of-contents] stripped

Republican Presidential Candidates

Ron DeSantis

ron desantis speaks behind a microphone while standing at a podium

Governor Ron DeSantis speaks during a news conference from his State of the State address in March 2023 in Tallahassee, Florida.Getty Images

Ron DeSantis, 45, is in his second term as the governor of Florida and formerly served the state in the House of Representatives. He is a graduate of Yale University, as well as Harvard Law School, and served as a Judge Advocate General officer in the U.S. Navy.

DeSantis garnered national attention for his hands-off approach to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent dismissal of restrictions like school closures and mask mandates, and he has taken an extremely conservative stance on a number of issues. According to NBC News, he has signed bills banning gender-affirming care for minors, combatting undocumented immigration, banning abortions at six weeks, and prohibiting higher education institutions from spending tax dollars on diversity programs. He has also sparred with Disney, one of his state’s largest employers, over LGBTQ rights.

Read More about Ron DeSantis

Nikki Haley

nikki haley wearing a red jacket and smiling while waving at supporters at a campaign rally, with spectators holding up signs and cheering in the backgroundnikki haley wearing a red jacket and smiling while waving at supporters at a campaign rally, with spectators holding up signs and cheering in the background

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley waves to supporters while arriving at her first campaign event on February 15, 2023, in Charleston, South Carolina.Getty Images

Nikki Haley, 51, served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations under President Donald Trump from January 2017 through December 2018. Before that, she was governor of South Carolina from 2011 to 2017. The daughter of Sikh immigrants from Punjab, India, Haley is considered the first woman of color to be a major candidate for the Republican nomination.

Haley was the first female and first Indian American to serve as South Carolina governor. She was on the short list of possible vice presidential running mates for Trump’s 2016 campaign, despite making critical remarks about him in the past. As ambassador, she forcefully defended Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and kept the international community attuned to threats from Russia, North Korea, and Iran.

Read more about Nikki Haley

Asa Hutchinson

asa hutchinson holding a microphone as he talks to an audienceasa hutchinson holding a microphone as he talks to an audience

Asa Hutchinson speaks speaks at the Vision ’24 National Conservative Forum in Charleston, South Carolina.Getty Images

Asa Hutchinson, 73, participated in the first RNC debate but didn’t meet the necessary qualifications for the second or third ones. He most recently served two terms as governor of Arkansas, leaving office in January 2023. He also served three successive terms in the U.S. House of Representatives starting in 1997. President George W. Bush appointed him director of the Drug Enforcement Administration in 2001.

A 1975 graduate of the University of Arkansas School of Law, Hutchinson is a vocal critic of Donald Trump and has suggested the former president drop out of the 2024 race amid his legal challenges. “Donald Trump says a lot things, and they don’t always appeal to the best of America,” Hutchinson said. “And so I’d rather focus on what our future is about and how we can solve problems and how we can come together as Americans.”

As Arkansas governor, Hutchinson signed several abortion restrictions into law and championed a series of tax cuts. However, he angered conservatives in 2022 when he vetoed legislation banning gender-affirming medical care for children. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he held town halls and regular news conferences to combat disinformation and encourage Arkansas residents to get vaccinated.

Donald Trump

donald trump wearing a blue suit and red tie, speaking into a microphone at a podium, with an american flag behind himdonald trump wearing a blue suit and red tie, speaking into a microphone at a podium, with an american flag behind him

Former U.S. President Donald Trump spoke at the New Hampshire Republican State Committee’s Annual Meeting on January 28, 2023.Getty Images

Donald Trump, 77, served as the 45th president of the United States, from 2017 to 2021. He was defeated by Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. The billionaire real estate mogul and former host of The Apprentice reality television series defeated Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.

During his time as president, Trump introduced strict immigration policies, including a travel ban for several predominantly Muslim countries; withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement; rescinded the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate; oversaw the country’s initial response to the COVID-19 pandemic; and appointed Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court. He is the first president in history to be impeached twice by the U.S. House of Representatives and is the first former president to face criminal and federal charges.

Read more about Donald Trump

Democratic Presidential Candidates

Joe Biden

joe biden speaking at a podium in front of congress for state of the unionjoe biden speaking at a podium in front of congress for state of the union

U.S. President Joe Biden delivered his second State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on February 7, 2023.Getty Images

Joe Biden, 81, is the current president of the United States, having assumed office after defeating Donald Trump in 2020. He previously served as vice president under Barack Obama, from 2009 to 2017, and represented Delaware in the U.S. Senate, from 1973 to 2009, where he was a ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for 12 years.

Starting as president amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Biden oversaw the distribution of vaccines and signed into law the American Rescue Plan stimulus bill in an attempt to battle economic uncertainty. Of late, record inflation—and the Federal Reserve’s subsequent effort to control it—has dominated headlines. He also enacted the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, appointed Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court, and completed the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Afghanistan. Biden is currently the subject of a federal investigation about his handling of classified documents.

Read more about Joe Biden

Dean Phillips

dean phillips smiles and looks left of the camera while standing in front of a wooden door, he wears a navy suit jacket with a pin on his lapel as well as a white collared shirt and blue and green tiedean phillips smiles and looks left of the camera while standing in front of a wooden door, he wears a navy suit jacket with a pin on his lapel as well as a white collared shirt and blue and green tie

Representative Dean Phillips in November 2022Getty Images

Dean Phillips, 54, is the representative for Minnesota’s 3rd Congressional District, having assumed the office in January 2019. He is a successful businessman who is heir to the Phillips Distilling Company. His grandmother was the late Pauline Phillips, who created the popular “Dear Abby” advice column.

Because of his late entry into the race, Phillips missed the deadline to appear on the February 2024 primary ballot in Nevada. Still, he has insisted for months that Biden shouldn’t seek reelection and has a good chance of losing a rematch with Trump. “I will not sit still and not be quiet in the face of numbers that are so clearly saying that we’re going to be facing an emergency next November,” he said in an interview with CBS News. Fixing the economy, combatting inflation, and solving the border crisis are among his goals should be be elected president.

Marianne Williamson

marianne williamson speaks to audience while holding microphone at sxswmarianne williamson speaks to audience while holding microphone at sxsw

Marianne Williamson spoke at the 2022 SXSW Conference and Festivals in Austin, Texas.Getty Images

Marianne Williamson, 71, is an author, political activist, and spiritual thought leader. She has written 14 books, four of which were No. 1 New York Times bestsellers, according to her business site. She previously ran for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020.

Williamson founded Project Angel Food, a nonprofit that has delivered more than 15 million meals to ill and dying homebound patients since 1989. In 2004, she co-founded The Peace Alliance and supports the creation of a U.S. Department of Peace.

In a statement posted to her business site in February 2023, Williamson said she is running for president to “help bring an aberrational chapter of our history to a close and to help bring forth a new beginning.”

Independent Presidential Candidate

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

robert f kennedy jr standing in front of a microphone during a rallyrobert f kennedy jr standing in front of a microphone during a rally

Environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speaks at a No Green Pass protest in Milan, Italy, in 2021.Getty Images

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.—Bobby, to many—is a best-selling author and environmental lawyer who has worked on issues like clean water. The 69-year-old is the son of former New York senator Robert F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1968 during his own presidential campaign, and the nephew of former President John F. Kennedy. He is also married to Emmy-nominated actor Cheryl Hines.

Kennedy spent decades of his life working on environmental causes and was president of Waterkeeper Alliance, a nonprofit he co-founded, for more than 20 years. He is an outspoken critic of vaccines, including for COVID-19. He created the anti-vaccine organization Children’s Health Defense and has repeatedly shared discredited claims linking vaccines to autism, according to CNN.

In a March 10 tweet, Kennedy said the focus of his then-unannounced campaign would be “to end the corrupt merger between state and corporate power that has ruined our economy, shattered the middle class, polluted our landscapes and waters, poisoned our children, and robbed us of our values and freedoms.” Six months after Kennedy made his Democratic bid official, he announced he will run for president as an independent instead.

Read More About Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Libertarian Presidential Candidate

Joe Exotic

joe exotic sitting on a stone wall in front of zoo animal cagesjoe exotic sitting on a stone wall in front of zoo animal cages

Joe Exotic rose to prominence with the 2020 release of the Tiger King documentary on Netflix.AP

That’s right: Joseph Allen Maldonado, known as Joe Exotic from the 2020 Netflix documentary series Tiger King, has declared his candidacy from prison.

Maldonado, 60, is a former Oklahoma zookeeper convicted in April 2019 of attempting to hire two men to kill animal rights activist Carole Baskin, in addition to more than a dozen wildlife violations. He was sentenced to 22 years in federal prison in January 2020 but that was shortened to 21 years in January 2022.

On his campaign site, Exotic says he is running to take a stand against the “worst of the corruption that our federal government has to offer.” In an interview from prison in Fort Worth, Texas, Exotic told the New York Post on March 15 that he wants former Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney, a Republican, to be his running mate. He also ran for Oklahoma governor in 2018 and received 962 votes in the 2016 presidential election.

No Longer in the Running

Doug Burgum

Ended Campaign on December 4, 2023

doug burgum leaning to his right as he listens to someone speakingdoug burgum leaning to his right as he listens to someone speaking

North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, center, attends the National Governors Association Winter Meeting in February 2023 in Washington. Getty Images

Doug Burgum, 67, has served as the governor of North Dakota since 2016. His second term is set to expire in December 2024. Prior to politics, Burgum was a successful businessman. He was as the CEO of Great Plains Software, a tech company which Microsoft acquired in 2001. He also founded the Kilbourne Group, a real estate development firm, in 2006.

Having embraced a number of conservative policies in North Dakota like a strict six-week abortion ban, Burgum focused heavily on the economy, energy, and national security during his campaign. However, his strategy didn’t resonate with voters—he was polling last on average among the major GOP candidates when he decided to suspend his campaign.

Chris Christie

Ended Campaign on January 10, 2024

chris christie looking off camera while at a football gamechris christie looking off camera while at a football game

Chris Christie attends an NFL game in December 2022 in Arlington, Texas.Getty Images

Chris Christie, 61, was elected governor of New Jersey in 2009 and served through mid-January 2018. He previously ran for president during the 2016 campaign cycle but bowed out of the race and gave his support to Donald Trump. They have since had a falling out, with Christie calling Trump “a child” for refusing to accept his loss in the 2020 election.

The former prosecutor is an alum of the University of Delaware and the Seton Hall University School of Law. As governor, Christie, was part of the “Bridgegate” scandal, in which two of his aides were convicted of charges including conspiracy and fraud for participating in a scheme to intentionally cause traffic problems on the George Washington Bridge as political retribution in 2013. He positioned himself as a more moderate candidate in the 2024 presidential race but failed to gain momentum, leading to his departure just before the Iowa caucuses.

Perry Johnson

Ended Campaign on October 20, 2023

perry johnson speaking to a reporter in front of his campaign backdropperry johnson speaking to a reporter in front of his campaign backdrop

Perry Johnson speaks at an event for his Michigan gubernatorial campaign in February 2022.AP

Perry Johnson, 75, is a businessman and author who was notably disqualified from the 2022 gubernatorial primary in Michigan for collecting invalid petition signatures. The Republican hasn’t served in elected office before. According to The Perry Johnson Foundation, he is the founder and owner of more than 70 companies operating worldwide and is an expert in quality standards.

During his speech at the 2023 Conservative Political Action Conference, he described himself as pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, and “pro-freedom.” Johnson failed to meet the polling threshold for the first Republican debate in August and cited this inability to share his vision on the stage as a primary reason for suspending his campaign.

Mike Pence

Ended Campaign on October 28, 2023

mike pence gesturing with his right hand while looking out into a crowd and speaking at a microphonemike pence gesturing with his right hand while looking out into a crowd and speaking at a microphone

Mike Pence speaks at a conference for the Calvin Coolidge Foundation in February 2023 in Washington.Getty Images

Mike Pence, 64, served as vice president during Donald Trump’s term in the White House. He is also a former governor of Indiana and served the state in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2001 through 2013.

During his campaign, Pence focused on his record as a traditional conservative—open to changing the social safety net to keep programs financially sound while backing aid to Ukraine—as opposed to more radical rivals like DeSantis and Trump. He distanced himself from the former president following his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, which alienated a large portion of the Republican base still loyal to Trump. With campaign debt piling up, Pence suspended his bid on October 28. “It’s become clear to me: This is not my time,” he said according to the AP.

Read More About Mike Pence

Vivek Ramaswamy

Ended Campaign on January 15, 2024

vivek ramaswamy speaks at the conservative political action conference in dallas, texas, on august 5, 2022, he wears a white button up shirt with a collar and has a microphone clipped to the front of his shirt, both of his arms are raised out in front of him and his right hand points to his left hand that is in an open c shape, behind him is a blue and red background with the letters cpacvivek ramaswamy speaks at the conservative political action conference in dallas, texas, on august 5, 2022, he wears a white button up shirt with a collar and has a microphone clipped to the front of his shirt, both of his arms are raised out in front of him and his right hand points to his left hand that is in an open c shape, behind him is a blue and red background with the letters cpac

Vivek Ramaswamy spoke at CPAC in Dallas on August 5, 2022.Alamy

Vivek Ramaswamy, 38, is a biotech and health care entrepreneur, and the author of the books Nation of Victims: Identity Politics, the Death of Merit, and the Path Back to Excellence and Woke, Inc.: Inside Corporate America’s Social Justice Scam. He started the company Roivant Sciences, where he oversaw the development of five drugs that went on to become FDA-approved, according to his campaign site. In 2022, Ramaswamy co-founded the Strive Asset Management firm, for which he serves as executive chairman.

Ramaswamy took a radical foreign policy stance in the first Republican debate by suggesting that Ukraine cede territory taken by Russia in the countries’ ongoing conflict and abstain from joining NATO, in exchange for Russian President Vladimir Putin exiting Moscow’s military alliance with China. It was one of a handful of splashes Ramaswamy made before suspending his campaign.

Tim Scott

Ended Campaign on November 12, 2023

tim scott pointing while holding a pen in his right hand and speaking to someone off cameratim scott pointing while holding a pen in his right hand and speaking to someone off camera

South Carolina Senator Tim Scott speaks during a Senate Banking Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in April 2023.Getty Images

Tim Scott, 58, has represented South Carolina in the U.S. Senate since 2013 and currently serves as a ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee. He won his most recent Senate term over Democratic challenger Krystle Matthews by almost 26 points in the 2022 midterms, which he hoped was a sign of his mainstream appeal. Scott is aligned with a number of core Republican positions, including reducing government spending and restricting abortion, but is known for striking a more optimistic tone than many of his Republican colleagues.

According to the Associated Press, Scott started his bid with more money—$22 million left over from his 2022 Senate campaign—than any other presidential candidate in U.S. history. However, his super PAC canceled millions of dollars of planned advertising in October, and he announced the suspension of his campaign on November 12 after gaining little support on the debate stage.

Francis Suarez

Ended Campaign on August 29, 2023

francis suarez standing behind a podium and holding a microphone in his right hand and holding his left arm outfrancis suarez standing behind a podium and holding a microphone in his right hand and holding his left arm out

Francis Suarez speaks during a news conference in February in Miami Beach, Florida.Getty Images

Francis Suarez, 46, is an attorney and former Miami city commissioner who was elected the city’s mayor in 2017 and won a second term in 2021. His father, Xavier Suarez, previously served as Miami mayor.

Francis considers himself a traditional conservative similar to former President Ronald Reagan in style and beliefs but has also spoken about combatting climate change and promoting tech industries like cryptocurrency and artificial intelligence. He sought to be a unity candidate but struggled to grow his base. After failing to qualify for the first RNC debate on August 23, he stuck to his word that candidates who didn’t make the grade should drop out. He ended his campaign six days later.

When Is the 2024 Presidential Election?

Election Day is November 5, 2024. Register to vote or check your registration status on the National Association of Secretaries of State website.

The Republican primary campaign season begins on Monday, January 15, with the Iowa presidential caucuses. The first Democratic primary will be held in South Carolina on February 3.

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