If the first hour or so of the 2020 RNC was all about the transcendent awesomeness of Donald Trump, beginning around 10 p.m. the festivities shifted rather abruptly to an early preview of the 2024 race for the GOP nomination.
First came former UN ambassador Nikki Haley to make a mildly enthusiastic case for Trump's re-election combined with a soft-spoken but severe attack on Democratic nominee Joe Biden for the supposed failures of the Obama administration and the imposition of "socialism" that awaits during a Biden administration that would be led by "Pelosi, Sanders, and The Squad." Haley also flatly informed viewers, as a daughter of immigrants from India, that "America is not a racist country." It was a glimpse of how Haley is likely to sell herself to voters in four years — as a somewhat sunnier and subtler purveyor of Trumpian politics.
For those GOP voters who want something closer to the more pungent original, Donald Trump, Jr., showed how capable he is at dishing out the right-wing red meat his father slings in his Twitter feed and at rallies before cheering crowds. Don Jr.'s remarks were pure culture war venom from start to finish, delivered in a tone of insistent angry agitation. If that's what Republican voters crave in 2024 — and it's more likely they will if Trump, Sr. goes down to defeat later this year — Don Jr. showed that he'll be a leading contender in the "Twilight in America" lane.
There will be many other contenders for that prize four years from now — including, most likely, Vice President Mike Pence and Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, both of whom will speak later this week. But on Monday night, it was all about Haley and Trump, and both showed that they will be formidable candidates if they decide to run.