The race for the Republican presidential nomination is not quite over — notwithstanding what Donald Trump and many Republican leaders have asserted since Trump’s victory in New Hampshire on Tuesday. Nikki Haley is still running and attacking the former president as she moves around South Carolina, which will hold its Republican primary on Feb. 24.

But for all that, it’s never too early to cast an eye on another competition playing out in the background: the early race for the 2028 Republican presidential nomination, in particular the contest between Trump’s two strongest rivals, Haley and Ron DeSantis.

How Haley, the former United Nations ambassador, and DeSantis, the governor of Florida, emerge from this contest, and particularly how they manage their relations with Trump, could have significant bearing on how they are positioned to run in 2028, should they decide to jump into the presidential pool again, as they are widely expected to do.

If Trump secures the nomination and wins in November, the 22nd Amendment says he will have to leave the White House after the 2028 election. If he loses in 2024, he could run again in 2028; at that point, though, he would be a two-time loser.

For DeSantis, who made an early departure from the race for president, the verdict is mostly set. For Haley, who is soldiering along in South Carolina, it is still being decided.

DeSantis stepped out of the race early in the hopes of not antagonizing Trump and his supporters. Throughout the primary, he ran as a Trump-like candidate, and depending what happens over the next four years, he could present himself the same way in 2028.


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