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Will Trump-skeptical GOP senators find a new 2024 candidate?

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) was the only GOP presidential candidate not named Donald Trump to have endorsements from Republican senators who aren’t from the candidate’s home state.

Now that Scott has suspended his campaign, the South Carolina Republican’s two backers in the Senate aren’t in any rush to find a new candidate to support.

Senate Minority Whip John Thune and Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), both vocal Trump skeptics, tell us they’re not planning on endorsing anyone at this point, even as Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis show that they’re the only somewhat viable alternatives to Trump.

“I assume there are going to be some other alternatives that emerge,” Thune said. “Nikki Haley’s making a nice run right now… She and DeSantis are going to be duking it out there to be the alternative to the former president. We’ll see where that lands. But I’m not prepared to say anything just yet.”

It’s a reflection not only of Trump’s dominance in the GOP primary thus far but also the failure of any of the other candidates to convince Trump-skeptical Senate Republicans that they can knock off the former president. It could also be viewed as an acknowledgment that there’s no longer any hope of preventing Trump from becoming the party’s presidential nominee.

“If you’re spending a lot of money right now convincing people when they’re not ready to be convinced at this point, you’re better off to save your money, suspend your campaign, and then wait and see what happens,” Rounds told us on the sidelines of the Halifax International Security Forum.

In theory, it shouldn’t be that difficult to win over at least some GOP senators, especially since so many of them have publicly doubted Trump’s ability to win in a general election. Some have also openly blamed Trump for squandering the Senate majority to Democrats the past two consecutive cycles.

But recent polls have shown Trump could be a strong general election candidate against President Joe Biden. So they may reason that it’s not worth taking a risk on someone else — especially with Trump on an apparent glide path to the nomination.

Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) on Monday became the 13th GOP senator to endorse Trump. And now that Scott is out of the race, no other presidential candidate can boast endorsements from the Senate GOP Conference other than North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, who has the backing of that state’s two senators.

— Andrew Desiderio

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Editorial photos provided by Getty Images. Political ads courtesy of AdImpact.