2024 US primaries, the ‘Indian’ Haley and the Italian DeSantis are Trump’s opponents remaining in the field

The Republican primaries begin Monday in Iowa. The former president considers them already won

Crowded in recent months, the field of Donald Trump’s opponents in the Republican primaries, which begin on Monday in Iowa, but which the former president considers already won, now appears very small. Despite, or perhaps thanks to, his many legal affairs which will lead him to frequent courtrooms in the coming months which he intends to transform into stages for rallies. There are a total of four Trump challengers left in the field: the two main ones, the Italian American Ron DeSantis and the Indian American Nikki Haleyand then the bio-tech billionaire, Vivek Ramaswamy, and the former governor of Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson.

Ron DeSantis

Re-elected governor of Florida with record voting percentages, the 45-year-old Republican, of Italian origin on both his mother and father’s side, officially launched his campaign for the White House in May 2023, with the promise of replying to national level the battle against liberals, gays and in general everything that the right brands as ‘woke’ waged in Florida. A great opponent of the anti-Covid measures and closures adopted during the pandemic, throughout last summer DeSantis appeared as the most fearsome opponent for the tycoon, who in fact made him the target of his attacks.

But as the months passed, the Republican, still several dozen points behind Trump, lost the opportunity to appear as a real alternative to the former president, also because he is aiming at his own extremist voter base oriented towards the Maga ideology ( Make America great again). And now on the eve of the caucuses in Iowa and the vote in New Hampshire, he has officially lost his second place, surpassed in the polls by Nikki Haley.

Before being elected governor of Florida in 2018, then with the enthusiastic support of then-President Trump, DeSantis had been a member of the House since 2013 and one of the founding members of the Freedom Caucus, the far-right faction of the Republican Party. Raised in Florida, he graduated from Yale Law and served in the Navy as a military lawyer. And there was no shortage of controversy over the position he held in the Guantanamo prison camp. Married to former television journalist Jill Casey, he has three children.

Nikki Haley

Former governor of South Carolina and former ambassador appointed by Trump to the UN, she ran for the White House in February 2023, after previously saying she would never take the field against her former boss. The 51-year-old Republican – daughter of a university professor who immigrated from India together with his wife, a law graduate, first in Canada and then in South Carolina where Nimrata Nikki Randhawa was born – has instead made the need for a new, younger leadership, the centerpiece of his campaign, also proposing cognitive tests for politicians who are over 75 years old. Just like Trump and Joe Biden, the probable protagonists in the new duel for the White House.

Having started quietly, Haley’s campaign is catalysing more and more enthusiastic interest among conservatives who want an alternative to Trump’s return, even from influential financiers of the Republican Party such as the very rich Koch brothers who gave her their support at the end of November support. Unlike DeSantis, who is seen as a ‘light’ version of Trump, Haley is thought to be more successful with independents, minorities and especially women. An argument that seems, in recent days, to be confirmed by the polls which have recorded Haley in second place with 20% in Iowa, overtaking DeSantis at 13%, and above all in great growth in New Hampshire where she would be 7 points behind Trump.

If she hits her target, Haley would become the first female Republican candidate, and the first Asian, for president. After being the first woman elected governor of South Carolina in 2010: in 2017 she resigned halfway through her second term to become Trump’s UN ambassador, a position she left surprisingly in 2018. The Republican attended Clemson University, where she met her husband, Michael Haley, who was sent to Afghanistan with the South Carolina National Guard in 2013 while his wife was governor. The couple has two children.

Vivek Ramaswamy

Another son of Indian immigrants, the bio tech billionaire who, just 38 years old, is running as an outsider for the White House, with the promise of fighting, as he said when announcing his candidacy in February 2023, the ‘woke’ ideology, the a term dear to the American right to demonize every liberal and politically correct position, put an end to government corruption and attract young voters to the Republican Party.

Ramaswamy had his first success in the private sector by founding the biotechnology company Roivant Sciences, then he expanded with Strive Asset Management, a management company specialized in countering ‘woke’, environmental, social and gender policies, adopted by corporations. Positions that he illustrated in his books “Woke Inc.” and “Nation of Victims.” A graduate of Harvard in biology and Yale law, he is married to a doctor, Apoorva, and has two children.

Asa Hutchinson

Having completed his second term as governor of Arkansas in January 2023, the 73-year-old Republican announced his candidacy for the White House a few months later, in April, to “attract the best of America”. His program includes cuts to spending and federal employees, greater anti-immigrant border security and reforms of federal law enforcement. He is in favor of continuing US support for Ukraine, a position not to be taken for granted these days among the Republican ranks, and is against American isolationism. He is strongly critical of Trump, and has explicitly asked the former president to renounce his candidacy due to his legal problems. A federal prosecutor during the Reagan presidency, Hutchinson was a congressman, envoy for the fight against drugs and undersecretary of national security during the administration of Bush Jr.. With his wife Susan he had four children.