South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott announced on Monday he was entering the 2024 GOP presidential race. The front runner Donald Trump welcomed him to the race, a shift from his usual, harsh manner of talking about his opponents.
"Good luck to Senator Tim Scott in entering the Republican Presidential Primary Race," former President Trump posted on Truth Social. "It is rapidly loading up with lots of people, and Tim is a a big step up from Ron DeSanctimonious, who is totally unelectable," he continued, taking a swipe at the current Florida governor.
As the GOP race heats up, here's a look at how Trump is responding to the candidates in an increasingly large pool.
Like his reaction to Scott, Trump offered words of encouragement to former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who served as U.N. Ambassador under Trump.
“Even though Nikki Haley said, ‘I would never run against my President, he was a great President, the best President in my lifetime,’ I told her she should follow her heart and do what she wants to do," Trump told CNN. "I wish her luck!”
Trump had largely stayed silent on the candidacy of entrepreneur and "anti-woke" activist Vivek Ramaswamy, who has branded himself as a "friend" of the former president.
But Trump more recently voiced approval of Ramaswamy's open admiration for many of the ex-president's politics.
“I am pleased to see that Vivek Ramaswamy is doing so well in the most recent Republican Primary Poll,” Trump posted on Truth Social this month. "The thing I like about Vivek is that he only has good things to say about ‘President Trump’ and all that the Trump Administration has so successfully done — This is the reason he is doing so well."
Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who has labeled himself as an "alternative" to Trump and has criticized the former president over his legal scandals, has been the center of several Trump attacks on Truth Social.
"So funny to watch Sleepy Eyes Chuck Todd on Meet the Fake Press interview the very unpopular former Governor of Arkansas (he couldn't get elected "dog catcher" there now!), Ada Hutchinson," Trump posted about Hutchinson on Truth Social. "He's woke, a RINO ["Republican-in-name-only"], got nothing to say, no policeis to speak of, and charisma that makes Chuck Todd look dynamic ... Other than that, I like Ada very much!"
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is expected to announce his candidacy this week, has long been considered the main challenger to Trump for the Republican nomination, and the former president has for months been critical.
"I don't know if he is running. I think if he runs, he could hurt himself very badly. I really believe he could hurt himself badly," Trump told Fox News in November. "I don't think it would be good for the party."
Trump has since intensified his attacks on DeSantis, awarding him the nickname "Ron DeSanctimonious" and trying to smear his record as governor.
- Trump could be offering praise to candidates like Ramaswamy in an effort to sway GOP voters against DeSantis, writes columnist Phillip Bump for The Washington Post. Trump understands that the Republican field boils down to Trump vs anti-Trump voters, he argues, and securing a less viable anti-Trump candidate may help secure the GOP nomination.