Ranking 2024 GOP Candidates Based on Their Covid Response

How politicians responded to the Covid crisis is one of the best ways to judge the potential 2024 Republican presidential candidates.

The strengths and weaknesses of a politician aren’t revealed in good times. Anyone can be popular when the economy is humming, there’s no foreign threat, and most everyone is healthy. It takes a crisis to know the character of a government leader. When things are difficult, will he rise to the challenge, or become part of the problem? 

Like wartime, Covid revealed our best and worst politicians (sadly, we found we had mostly the worst). When the whole world went insane, did any leader step up and fight against the dominant narrative, or did they all cave and follow the crazed masses? Reviewing the responses of our supposed conservative politicians will help us as we look forward to (or dread) the 2024 Presidential election.

I would argue that conservatives should only consider candidates who by the end of 2020 were done with the Covid narrative. If a politician was still enforcing or endorsing lockdowns, mask mandates, or vaccine mandates in 2021, then it’s clear he or she was on the wrong side of the most important issue of our time. While we can forgive a government official for initially going along with the narrative in the beginning days and even months of the pandemic, we knew too much by the end of 2020 to continue to support the Covid Regime. Sadly, this criteria eliminates most Republican governors.

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Former President Donald Trump could be, as always, an exception to this rule. But I don’t think he should be. After all, it was under him that Dr. Fauci became the voice and director of the Covid Regime, and although Trump inherited Fauci, he could have easily removed him at any time during the last months of his presidency. For those who make excuses for Trump based on the difficulty of doing so, isn’t that why he was elected in the first place, to drain the swamp? And who is more of a swamp-dweller than career bureaucrat Anthony Fauci?

During the 11 months Trump was president during the Covid crisis, he was mostly a deer staring in the headlights. He criticized Georgia for opening up from lockdowns before the media thought it was wise. He went along with the “experts” like Fauci for far too long, only appointing someone like Scott Atlas when it was too late to matter. And of course, in typical Trump fashion, he’s never admitted that his actions in the early days of Covid were part of the problem, only taking credit for pushing a vaccine on the American people as quickly as possible.

Since leaving office Trump has been an enthusiastic supporter of the Covid vaccines, bragging on multiple occasions that he got the jab. That’s not the same as endorsing vaccine mandates (which he has not done), but his clear enthusiasm for the vaccines should at least make conservatives suspicious that he wouldn’t strongly oppose future Big Pharma attempts to require vaccines.

Finally, Trump’s star does seem to be waning among Republican voters, possibly in part due to his poor record regarding Covid. While fully 50% of Republicans in a recent poll said they wanted to re-nominate Trump in 2024, that’s actually a significant drop vs. previous polls that asked if he should be re-nominated in 2020. 

So if not Trump, then who? Many potential candidates come to mind, including Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin, former Vice President Mike Pence, and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, although none of them have distinguished Covid records (Cruz in particular has gotten progressively better with time).

I would put four figures at the top based on their response to Covid: Texas Governor Greg Abbott, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Each of these figures distinguished themselves in the past two years for refusing to go along with the Covid narrative and standing up to the Ruling Class as it took more and more of our liberties from us.

Any of these four conservative candidates would be far superior to any candidate put forward by the Democrats in 2024, whether it be “Weekend at Bernies” Biden, the supremely unlikable Kamala Harris, the possibly even more unlikable Hillary Clinton, or any one of the Democrats’ young rising communists. But the GOP can only nominate one candidate, so we should take an early look at each of these four.

Greg Abbott has the advantage and disadvantage of being the governor of Texas. That’s an advantage because it puts him frequently in the national media spotlight. But it’s a disadvantage because Texas is going to go Republican in 2024 no matter what, so those electoral votes are already locked up. Further, Abbott has been mostly a follower (of DeSantis) not a leader when it comes to Covid policies. He seemed to get his footing on the issue only when he saw the positive response among conservatives to DeSantis. While he’s to be commended for what he’s done, it’s reasonable to ask if Abbott would have been good on this issue if DeSantis weren’t around to emulate.

Kristi Noem has the distinction of being the only governor never to implement a Covid lockdown or to implement any onerous Covid-related restrictions. For this she is to be rightly praised. However, she hasn’t really distinguished herself otherwise, and her state is one of the least populous so it was a much easier sell to avoid lockdowns. When her star was rising among conservatives last year, she tripped up by shooting down a law banning transgender female (i.e., male) athletes from competing in women’s sports, although she redeemed herself last month by signing into law a similar bill. Ultimately, however, coming from her small state, she seems more VP material than presidential potential. 

No senator has been better since the start of Covid than Rand Paul. He has made senate hearings of Dr. Fauci must-watch television, grilling the dictator doctor with flustering facts that expose the lies of the Covid Regime. Imagine how much worse off we’d be if Paul were not in the Senate right now. So should he be the Republican nominee in 2024? Although he was my candidate in 2016, I can’t see it happening. He showed then that he doesn’t have the energy and charisma of a presidential candidate. Better he serve the country as long as possible in the Senate.

This leaves us with the potential candidate who has drummed up the most interest outside of Trump: Ron DeSantis. There’s no debate that he’s been the leader in the fight against the Covid Regime. After initially instituting lockdowns, DeSantis quickly pivoted and realized that he needed to follow the actual science, which didn’t support those draconian measures. He hasn’t just removed ridiculous restrictions—he’s gone on the offensive against the Covid Regime, revealing its lies to the public. And while Rand Paul has done heroic work in the halls of the Senate, it’s been DeSantis who has taken the most fire from the Covidiots. Like Trump, it seems the more he’s attacked, the stronger he gets. 

DeSantis also has the quality that empowered Trump: he doesn’t care what the media thinks; if anything, he revels in their criticisms and baseless attacks. But unlike Trump, he can counter the media narratives not just with insults, but with facts, dozens and dozens of facts. Watching one of his press conferences is like watching a master at work. When some mindless media drone engages in an attempt at “gotcha” journalism to make one of the Florida governor’s policies appear heartless or even fatal, DeSantis quickly turns it around until you almost start to feel sorry for the poor journalist (almost). 

At this point at least, it seems that DeSantis has all the benefits of Trump without any of the baggage. He’ll get assailed by the national media if he runs, but he’s shown the ability to turn that into more support.

It’s a long time until the 2024 primaries, and a lot can happen between now and then (World War III?). But for conservatives who rightly see the rise of the Covid Regime as the most pressing political concern of our time, it’s clear that Ron DeSantis is the Republican candidate to support.


  • Eric Sammons

    Eric Sammons is the editor-in-chief of Crisis Magazine.

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