2024 election: Meet the candidates running for president

The field for the 2024 U.S. presidential race is beginning to whittle down as Republicans -- and a few Democrats -- campaign to challenge President Joe Biden. File Photo by Chris Kleponis/UPI
The field for the 2024 U.S. presidential race is beginning to whittle down as Republicans -- and a few Democrats -- campaign to challenge President Joe Biden. File Photo by Chris Kleponis/UPI | License Photo

The field for the 2024 U.S. presidential race is beginning to whittle down as Republicans -- and some Democrats -- campaign to challenge President Joe Biden.

Whether the election on Nov. 5, 2024, will be a rematch of 2020's Biden vs. Donald Trump match depends on the events of the next few months, as the major parties hold their primary contests.


The first Democratic primary votes are tentatively scheduled for South Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Georgia and Michigan, starting as early as February. The first Republican primaries are expected in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.

The Republican Party has held three primary debates. Meanwhile the large field of Republican candidates has contracted, as former Vice President Mike Pence, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, former U.S. Rep. Will Hurd and radio host Larry Elder have dropped out.


Here's a look at the major-party candidates who are still competing.


At 80 years old, President Joe Biden's age has been a target of criticism from opponents. File Photo by Michael Reynolds/UPI

Joe Biden

President Joe Biden vowed to take on "extreme MAGA Republicans," when he announced his bid for re-election in April. Through his first two years in office, Biden has focused on the United States' recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and rebuilding the nation's infrastructure.

Among early successes was his administration's concerted effort to deliver vaccines. Biden differentiated himself from his predecessor, Donald Trump, by voicing his trust in the safety of the vaccines, receiving his first shot on camera.

Biden has since delivered on several campaign promises, including investments in infrastructure with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act and achieving historically low unemployment rates. However, his presidency has also been marred by historically high inflation, a global issue largely stemming from the pandemic.

At 80 years old, Biden's age has been a target of criticism from opponents. He spent 36 years as a U.S. senator representing Delaware and eight as vice president to President Barack Obama.

Author Marianne Williamson participates in a presidential debate in 2019. She is again seeing the Democratic nomination. File Photo by John Nowak/CNN

Marianne Williamson

Marianne Williamson, 70, is campaigning for the Democratic nomination for the second time. The author has spoken in favor of universal healthcare, tuition-free higher education and increasing the minimum wage.

Williamson said she would bring a new and unique perspective to the presidency, challenging the norms of what makes a candidate electable. When she announced her candidacy in February -- the first Democrat to officially do so -- she promised to "offer a clashing vision to Biden's."

A self-described political activist and spiritual thought leader, Williamson has not held political office. She first ran as an independent to represent California's 33rd Congressional District in 2014. She received the fourth-most votes out of 18 candidates. She then entered the campaign for presidency in January 2019. Her campaign ended just shy of one year later.

Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., questions witnesses during a House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing in 2020. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI

Dean Phillips

Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota announced a late bid in October to challenge Biden in the Democratic primary. He has served in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2019. He was a leader in the Democratic Party before stepping down earlier in the month.


Phillips has been critical of Biden's re-election bid, noting his age and that voters may prefer an alternative. He told CBS's Robert Costa that Biden has done a "spectacular job," but the election is about the future.

The 54-year-old's legislative priorities have included environmental protection efforts, equitable access to education for children with disabilities and women's access to reproductive health services, including abortion.


Former President Donald Trump enters the 2024 presidential race besieged by legal problems. File Photo by John Nacion/UPI

Donald Trump

Former President Donald Trump, 76, has thrown his red hat into the ring once again as a candidate for the Republican nomination. Trump has not relented on his criticism of the Biden administration and has yet to acknowledge that his claims about his 2020 election loss were false.

Like his first two campaigns, Trump has touted his America-first agenda and painted himself as the anti-establishment candidate. He seeks to further push the Republican agenda of slashing at the rights of the transgender community, as well as virtually phasing out trade with China.

He has spoken of breaking up the Department of Education and cutting funding to schools that discuss critical race theory and gender identity. Immigration will also be one of his top priorities as Republicans push for construction to resume on a wall at the southern border.


While Trump continues on the campaign trail, he is grappling with multiple legal matters. This spring, he pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts related to falsifying records in multiple hush-money schemes related to his 2016 campaign.

In August, special counsel Jack Smith indicted Trump for a second time, this time for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election and the resulting Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Later in the month, he and 18 co-defendants were indicted in Fulton County, Ga., on conspiracy charges related to alleged attempts to subvert the results of the election. Trump pleaded not guilty to 13 felony charges.

In Washington, he faces an investigation into his handling of classified documents. He also intends to appeal the ruling in writer E. Jean Carroll's civil suit against him, which found him liable for sexual battery and defamation.

A $250 million civil fraud trial against Trump is ongoing in New York, in which the former president and his eldest sons are accused of falsifying business records and inflating their net worth by more than $2 billion.

Trump has not participated in the Republican primary debates. Some Republicans have launched legal challenges to Trump's eligibility to appear on the primary ballot, citing the 14th Amendment.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is running on a record of conservative legislative victories in his home state. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI

Ron DeSantis

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ended all speculation about his candidacy for the Republican nomination with an unconventional announcement on Twitter, joined by Elon Musk. The announcement was snagged by technical issues, but DeSantis has sought new ways to differentiate himself from other candidates.

DeSantis has a number of prominent policy successes to lean on as governor and they are more recently achieved than any of his Republican counterparts. In the 2023 legislative session, he saw his Parental Rights in Education Act -- dubbed "Don't Say Gay" by critics -- expanded, banned funding for diversity, equity and inclusions programs at public institutions of higher learning and prohibited gender-affirming care for minors, among several other high-profile conservative agenda items.

He has also highlighted his state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic as he urged schools to open while many other states continued with online learning.

Like Trump, DeSantis has positioned himself as an opponent of the Washington establishment and bureaucratic red tape. He has pledged to be tough on border security and focused on giving parents more power in their children's education.

The 44-year-old spent six years in the House of Representatives before being elected governor of Florida in 2018. Prior to serving in public office, DeSantis served in the Navy for six years. He was a judge advocate general officer and worked with detainees at Guantanamo Bay.


Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., is a ranking member on the committee on banking, housing and urban affairs, and serves on several other committees, including foreign relations. File Pool Photo by Tom Williams/UPI

Tim Scott

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott took aim at the Biden administration in his announcement that he will campaign for the Republican nomination. He vowed to address immigration from his first day in office, stating that Biden has attacked American values and security.

The senator described his modest upbringing being raised in poverty by a single mother. He evoked the "American dream," claiming the "radical left" had closed the pathways that allowed him to achieve.

The 57-year-old was elected to the Senate in 2013 following two years representing South Carolina's 1st District in the House. He is a ranking member on the committee on banking, housing and urban affairs, and serves on several other committees, including foreign relations and small business and entrepreneurship.

Scott's career in public service began in his hometown of Charleston, S.C., where he served on the city council from 1995 to 2008. Fellow South Carolinian and Republican candidate Nikki Haley, then governor, appointed Scott to the Senate after Jim DeMint resigned. Scott became the first Black Republican senator in more than 30 years.

Nikki Haley has served as governor of South Carolina and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. File Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI

Nikki Haley

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, 51, brings experience in foreign policy to the table as a Republican candidate. She served as ambassador to the United Nations under Trump and was a key supporter of Trump's decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The daughter of Indian immigrants, Haley has a background in finance, starting at 13 years old as a bookkeeper for her parents' clothing company. She later would become chief financial officer and served on the Orangeburg, S.C., chamber of commerce's board of directors.

Haley announced her candidacy targeting specific Democrats, such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., for their stance on social issues. Haley said assertions that "America's founding principles are bad -- racist and evil" are untrue.

The sole female Republican candidate so far has broken slightly from her fellow Republican candidates on the issue of abortion. During a campaign speech in Arlington, Va., Haley said the United States must reach a "consensus on abortion." Though she opposes the procedure, she said she doubted the restrictions that have been passed in Republican states will ever be adopted at the federal level.


Former candidate and Texas lawmaker Will Hurd endorsed Haley after ending his own campaign, stating that she is "the best person" in the race to "navigate the complex challenges we face."

Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has also served in Congress and headed the Drug Enforcement Administration in his political career. Photo courtesy of Asa Hutchinson/Facebook

Asa Hutchinson

Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, 72, said his experience sets him apart from other candidates when he announced his campaign. He also called for Trump to withdraw from the race because he is facing unpredictable circumstances, alluding to the former president's legal woes.

Hutchinson served as governor from 2015 to January 2023, steering the state through the COVID-19 pandemic. He was appointed U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas by President Ronald Reagan in 1982 and later served three terms in the House, beginning in 1996. President George W. Bush named him director of the Drug Enforcement Administration in 2001.

Hutchinson said he wants to create a panel to study Medicare and Social Security. He also criticized the Biden administration over inflation and rising interest rates.


"Every hard-working American family gets a double hit from the Biden economy," he said. "Their paycheck doesn't go as far and they are paying more on car loans and credit card debt because of the high interest rates."

Vivek Ramaswamy founded Strive asset management in 2022 and is a proponent of decentralizing currency. Photo courtesy of Vivek Ramaswamy/Facebook

Vivek Ramaswamy

Vivek Ramaswamy, 37, is the youngest presidential candidate in the field. He is an author and entrepreneur described on his campaign website as the "CEO of Anti-Woke."

Ramaswamy has expressed mistrust in the government while focusing his campaign message on reducing its size. He has also been outspoken against practices such as affirmative action, stating that the "American dream means you believe in merit."

Ramaswamy founded Strive asset management in 2022 and is a proponent of decentralizing currency by investing in cryptocurrency. He encourages his donors to contribute to his campaign using bitcoin. During the Bitcoin 2023 Conference in Miami, Ramaswamy said the biggest threat to liberty is a "hybrid of government power and private enterprise." He said the government will not censor speech, but use private enterprise in the form of social media to do so.


Ramaswamy said the government has used "climate pledges" from private companies to implement aspects of the Green New Deal.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie spoke against using tactics that divide voters when he announced his candidacy for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

Chris Christie

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has been serving as a TV political commentator since leaving office in 2018. He has been critical of Trump, arguing the country should move on, and criticizing the former president's insistence that there was interference in the 2020 presidential election.

The former federal prosecutor dropped out of the 2016 primary after finishing in sixth place in New Hampshire.

Christie has pushed back against far-right conspiracy theorists and "truth deniers" in his own party, arguing only a unified front can lead to a Republican president. He has called for tougher border laws, and attempted to position himself as a viable alternative for traditional conservative voters.

Christie, a father of four, earned a law degree from Seton Hall University. The ardent New Jersey supporter and Bruce Springsteen fan gained nationwide acclaim for his handling of the disaster and the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. However, he also was widely criticized in the so-called "Bridgegate" scandal while governor, where his associates conspired to close lanes of the George Washington Bridge as political payback against a local mayor.


North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R) announced that he is running for the Republican presidential nomination in an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal. File Photo by Andrew Harrer/UPI

Doug Burgum

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum called for change in the White House when he announced his candidacy in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece. Burgum has been in office since 2016.

The 66-year-old entered the world of politics after a career in business, founding Great Plains Software and serving as CEO until the company was sold to Microsoft in 2001. Before that, he was a consultant with McKinsey & Co., a global management consulting firm. He also co-founded Arthur Ventures, a venture capital firm.

North Dakota's 33rd governor supported a tax relief package that he signed into law in 2023 that he called the "largest individual income tax relief package in state history." He also signed several laws relating to the rights of the transgender community, including restrictions on participating in school sports.

In April, Burgum signed a bill that criminalizes abortion with few exceptions. It went into effect immediately upon being signed.

Third Party

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speaks at a rally protesting vaccine mandates on the National Mall in Washington in 2022. File Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI

Robert F. Kennedy

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., son of slain 1968 presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy and nephew to President John F. Kennedy, seeks to add to his family's political legacy. Kennedy entered the race for the Democratic primary in April but recently left the party to launch an independent bid.

Democrats outwardly opposed RFK Jr. throughout his campaign as a member of their party. He was the subject of scrutiny by Democrats during a House judiciary committee hearing on the "weaponization" of the federal government in July.

He is a lawyer who focuses on environmental justice. He formerly served as the senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council. He was also on the Riverkeeper board for 33 years. That organization advocates for cleaning up the Hudson River.

Climate action is among Kennedy's top priorities. He said he will reform agricultural subsidies to emphasize regenerative practices, incentivize clean energy and preserve undeveloped land.

The 69-year-old was among the most outspoken figures against the COVID-19 vaccine. He founded the anti-vaccine organization Children's Health Defense and during the pandemic accused former chief medical adviser to the president, Dr. Anthony Fauci, of fascism. He also shared misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines, which led to his Instagram account being shut down.

Cornel West is running for president in 2024 as a member of the People's Party. File Photo by Steve Pope/UPI

Cornel West

Cornel West is the first candidate to declare for a third party in the 2024 campaign, announcing he will run as a member of the People's Party. The 70-year-old distanced himself from both mainstream parties in his announcement video, stating that neither will "tell the truth" about topics such as the war in Ukraine, financial markets or the military.

West is a longtime political activist and advocate for social and racial justice. He toured with Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont during his 2016 bid for the Democratic nomination. He is the author of 20 books on topics including philosophy, politics, race and 20th-century African American leaders.

He teaches philosophy at Union Theological Seminary in New York. He previously taught at Harvard, where he earned his bachelor's degree before earning a master's and Ph.D in philosophy from Princeton.

West said he supports healthcare for all, increasing access to livable wages and quality housing, combating climate change and securing women's rights to make healthcare decisions. He has also vowed to address poverty and mass incarceration.

Jill Stein announced that she will be running for president in 2024 as a Green Party candidate. File Photo courtesy Gage Skidmore

Jill Stein

Jill Stein is the latest candidate to launch a campaign for 2024. She announced her candidacy on the Green Party ticket on Nov. 9. She garnered more than 1% of the popular vote when she ran for president in 2016.

During the 2016 debate cycle, Stein was caught attempting to sneak into the first debate between Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton after she did not meet the polling requirement to participate. She was removed from the premises.

Stein is a former Democrat known for her activism, particularly opposing practices that cause pollution and supporting clean energy.

In her campaign announcement, Stein said the "political system is broken," and decried the two-party system. She was critical of Republicans and Democrats for "squandering trillions on the endless war machine, fueling conflict around the world."

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