Opinion: What names come to mind as presidential candidates for 2024? (2023)

My favorite would be substantive, honest

My ideal candidate for president would never win. He or she would not even be nominated in today’s political web of self-serving, inbred, power-hungry political party leaders.

Someone with a record of telling the truth and providing constructive solutions is the antithesis of who wins the internal contests and the national debates. Feeding on hatred and bigotry, latching onto minority groups’ discontents and attacks on opponents (especially those based on misinformation) — that wins. Responding to accusations only serves to repeat them and distracts from substantive reasons to vote for the accused candidate.

And typically, the accusation makes Page One and the truth, if published at all, is buried on Page 14.

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But I remain a naïve idealist of the 1960s and John F. Kennedy’s Camelot. My candidate would address the substantive issues, with detailed substance rather than superficial generalizations, such as “I like apple pie and motherhood.” Walter Cronkite has died, so I have no name of such a candidate and suspect no such candidate would voluntarily subject himself or herself to the “slings and arrows” of putting his or her name out into the political fray. But maybe Walter Cronkite would still win as president.

Clifford Weiler, Mission Hills

Find a person who will make us proud

At this time, we don’t yet know what choices we will have in choosing a president for 2024. With 23 months to go, we will certainly be faced with many potential candidates and none of them will be perfect. But the No. 1 requirement for my choice will be someone who exhibits the same values that I was raised with.

My candidate will be honest, not dishonest. He or she will admit to some failings, not try to pass them on to others.

This candidate will listen to both sides of the aisle and make the best decisions for the most people, not just for a few people. The ideal candidate will face the reality of our problems, not bury them with his/her head in the sand. This person will listen to and respect our scientists and experts and make the best policy decisions based on keeping us safe and healthy and preserving the wonderful quality of life we enjoy here in the United States for many generations yet to come.

This person will refer to his political rivals as “opponents,” not “enemies.” He or she will recognize that we are all Americans and embrace us all as equals, even those whose votes went to someone else. They will respect our democracy and the will of the voters.

My candidate will look forward, not backward. Any takers out there?

Patricia Del Rio, Escondido

DeSantis has proven himself as governor

My choice is Ron DeSantis because he always puts the people first. He is proactive when responding to emergencies, pandemics and disasters. He has proven over and over again that he is more than qualified, not only to be the governor of Florida but the president of the United States in 2024.

Donna Walters, El Cajon

We need a unifying leader, not a divider

Whether Republican or Democrat, my ideal candidate for president in 2024 won’t don a MAGA cap but will proudly display our traditional American motto, e pluribus unum, which continues to define our national identity: “out of many, one.”

This candidate will afford respect to any rival party and its supporters and treat them as the loyal opposition. He or she will never refer to them as the enemy even when disagreeing vehemently over the ordering of priorities and matters of policy. However, he or she will always rely on verifiable evidence and reject the poison of conspiracy theories.

My candidate will invite members of all parties to join together in addressing the pressing issues of our time, knowing full well that compromise must be part of any legislative agenda. Such issues will include (but not be limited to):

- Climate change

- Immigration and the border

- Gun violence

- Racial and gender inequality

- The spread of pernicious misinformation

- Urban crime

- A woman’s right to choose

Finally, if my ideal candidate were to lose, he or she would never claim that the election was rigged but would graciously concede defeat, and not only congratulate the next president of the United States but offer to help in strengthening our democracy.

Emery J. Cummins, Pacific Beach

Country needs better choices next election

The ideal presidential candidate for 2024? Or perhaps more appropriate, a Democratic candidate to run against former President Donald Trump?

Things to consider: First, will Trump be the GOP candidate? With his personality, he craves the adulation and all the power. But judging by his past, he cares little for the law, for tradition or for the good of anyone but himself. And no doubt his campaign would be as ugly as it was in 2016. Unless he is indicted, he will probably stay in the race — if nothing else for the money he can raise for himself.

For the Democrats, I am sad to say it, but President Joe Biden should not run again. He is simply too old. Truthfully, Biden has had a successful two years. Other than age, he deserves another term. Prescription drug bill allowing Medicare to bargain on drug prices. Unemployment at historic lows. Limits on prescription costs that will help millions of citizens. The Inflation Reduction Act, which is really about improving national infrastructure with roads and bridges and will employ thousands of people — jobs where you get your hands dirty.

Infrastructure is expensive, yes, but the people who will pay for it are the same people who will enjoy the benefits in the future.

There are many qualified Democratic candidates. So if not Biden, who? First of all is Kamala Harris. Unfortunately, I believe we are still not ready for voters to elect a woman president, like Harris, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar or Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. My hope is Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas retires and Harris is selected as his replacement. This opens the vice presidency to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. Clearly, he is intellectually capable, extraordinarily well-spoken and quick on his feet, but can he be elected president?

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, is a possibility, due to his intelligence, experience, presence and history of trying to impeach Trump, and being on the select committee investigating the Jan. 6 coup attempt. I believe Schiff would be considered a moderate. A debate with Trump would be interesting. Gov. Gavin Newsom would be a front-runner if he commits. But he says he is not interested — right now. Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown is the right age, and has experience and gravitas. But he would not want to run for president when he is up for election, to preserve his Senate seat. Eric Holder, attorney general under President Barack Obama, is brilliant. He is African American and could be a promising candidate but would be 73 in 2024.

It seems to me that anyone who wants to be president of the U.S. should be disqualified on the basis of their sanity. But somewhere out there is a reasonably well-known, moderate Democrat, male (from the South, if possible) who is willing to take on the slings and arrows of Trump and his cult. Former New Orleans mayor and now senior Biden adviser Mitch Landrieu?

Right now my choice would be Schiff with Holder as vice president. On the GOP side, please, anyone but Trump. The guy who tried to kill democracy should not be a candidate for president.

Ron Carrico, Mission Hills

Let’s put a moderate in the White House

The ideal president elected in 2024 would be a moderate from either party who represents proven bipartisanship and compromise over ideology. The person would articulate a reasonable approach to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, providing legal status for immigrant children but compromises on citizenship, allowing immigrants to “get in line” and setting criteria for citizenship but not guaranteeing it. That eliminates the citizenship issues dividing the two parties.

The person would best exemplify the full meaning of integrity and avoid castigating those who might be in opposition on issues of guns, immigration, sexuality, abortion, crime in general and methods for stabilizing inflation.

Additionally, the person would have some foreign policy positions that preserve U.S. strengths (such as NATO membership), recognize realities and above all have the respect of other nations. The candidates must address how they hope to deal with issues regarding China, Russia and the Middle Eastern nations. A proposal to support modifications to the United Nations Security Council permanent membership would not be a bad idea, with the criteria applying to all members. Of course they’d need a well-defined position on Ukraine if that conflict, God forbid, continues into 2024.

Possible candidates on the Democratic ticket might be Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker. Normally a governor or two would be included, but a lot more needs to be learned about our governors and their qualifications for national office. Possible candidates for the Republican Party might be retiring Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, Texas Sen. John Cornyn, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski. John Kasich, former governor of Ohio, was ideal in 2020, but his time may have passed.

Definitely the person nominated should not be any 2020 election denier or those with extreme positions within either party. A “Great Compromiser” would of course be ideal, as the reality of political divisions with extremes within each party is sure to continue until the next generation of voters realizes it is not a political sin to compromise or to engage in a form of incrementalism that actually advances cures for what ails the country.

Wouldn’t it also be ideal if nominees would actually agree to the voluntary federal election contribution rules? It costs way too much to mount a campaign. The only way to solve that issue is if a nominee would support congressional mandates to those renewing licenses for use of the airwaves to provide a set amount of free air time to candidates on radio and television, including cable. The challenge: How to avoid a free-for-all involving an unrealistic number of candidates?

If I were a Democrat, I would vote for Booker with either Klobuchar or Buttigieg as the running mate.

If I were a Republican, I would vote for Hutchinson with Murkowski or Portman as the running mate.

Michael Jones, Chula Vista

GOP needs to change the party from within

Mitt Romney. That’s my answer to the “who” part of the question above. The “why” part of the question is more complicated.

I’ve been a lifelong Republican since I turned 18 way back in 1976. My mom was a Democrat, my father was a Republican, and I liked the logic my dad used to explain the difference: Republicans wanted lower taxes and less intrusive government; if you were wealthy, being a Republican was better, and if you aspired to one day be wealthy, the same argument applied.

Starting with the first presidential election I could vote in, the year I graduated from high school, when I voted for Gerald Ford who lost to Jimmy Carter, I’ve always preferred to back the Republican presidential candidate. The next election, 1980, I voted for Ronald Reagan. He wasn’t perfect, but he’s easily the best Republican president we’ve had since then.

I stayed true to the Republican Party, voting for George H.W. Bush in 1988. But I lost confidence in him due to the famous “Read my lips. No new taxes” lie, and the debacle with his vice president, Dan Quayle. So in 1992’s election I did something unthinkable: I didn’t vote for a Republican, instead choosing independent candidate Ross Perot. Perot, of course, didn’t win, but it set me on a path of independence and of no longer being beholden to the Republican Party — although I remain a registered Republican to this day.

In the ensuing years, I’ve watched as the Republican Party was co-opted by those who favored a religious, conservative, anti-liberal focus, and that’s not what I had signed up for. I didn’t vote for George W. Bush in 2000 or 2004 nor Donald Trump in 2016. (I didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton either — the one presidential election I didn’t vote in, although I voted for the other offices.)

Mitt Romney was the breath of fresh air I was looking for when he ran for president in 2008. He lost in the primary to John McCain, who made the mistake of choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate. Romney ran again in 2012, this time winning the Republican nomination. He won 24 states versus 26 plus Washington, D.C., for Barack Obama, but only won 47 percent of the popular vote versus 51 percent for Obama. Romney was the only Republican senator who voted to convict Trump in his first impeachment trial in 2020. That was about as brave as it gets. He was one of only seven Republicans voting to convict Trump in his second impeachment trial.

There’s a lot to like about Mitt Romney, and no way to expound on why in the limited space remaining. Just do a web search and read his Wikipedia history; you will come away impressed. While my dad had switched his party affiliation to independent long before he passed away in April at 93, I have remained a steadfast Republican for my initial reasons: lower taxes and less intrusive government. Like-minded Republicans need to change the party from the inside, and I can’t do that as an independent. Mitt Romney would be a great step forward.

Greg Jabin, Del Mar

Looking for someone who is smart, worldly

Possible 2024 presidential candidates and/or running mates are Tim Scott, Republican senator from South Carolina; Nimrata Nikki Haley, Republican former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; Ron DeSantis, Republican governor of Florida; Harold Ford Jr., Democratic former U.S. representative from Tennessee; Amy Klobuchar, Democratic senator from Minnesota; and/or Pete Buttigieg, Democratic U.S. Secretary of Transportation

What I would like to see in a candidate is someone who is younger than 70, in good physical health and has the mental acuity to do the job. I would like someone who is blind to color, race, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, marital status and gender. They should value individuals and/or community for what they say and do. They need to be tech-savvy and worldly, and understand that the U.S. is only one part of the world and that what happens here or there affects the U.S.

This person needs to be able to listen to all viewpoints, accept advice, make decisions that are fair and equal, and admit when they were wrong or don’t know the answer to the question. During this person’s campaign, I want to hear ideas on how to solve our problems (energy, border security, immigration, health care, inflation, etc.) and how to work with Congress to resolve these issues.

Pamela Koleber, Lakeside

Look to the past for some good examples

Few people had heard of John F. Kennedy in 1958, or Jimmy Carter in 1974, or Bill Clinton in 1990 or Barack Obama in 2006. Two years out, the eventual nominees may well be unknown to us today.

We can, however, look to past presidents for traits to define our next one. For example, the next president should have:

- The resolve of Franklin D. Roosevelt, who refused to believe in 1932 that democracy was doomed to failure.

- The integrity of Harry Truman, who turned down commercial endorsements, “consulting” opportunities and lobbying contracts, saying that he would never diminish the integrity of the U.S. presidency.

- The inspirational abilities of John F. Kennedy, who rallied the youth of America, saying, “The torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans born in this century.”

- The inspirational rhetoric of Ronald Reagan, who reignited Americans’ faith in themselves with “a dream of an America that would be a shining city on a hill.”

- The call to action from Barack Obama, energizing the disenfranchised: “We are the change that we seek. Do we participate in the politics of cynicism, or the politics of hope?”

- The worldview of Richard Nixon, who ushered in a new era of U.S.-China relations.

- The worldview of George H.W. Bush, whose detailed knowledge of foreign relationships carried the world peacefully through the breakup of the Soviet Union.

- Bill Clinton’s command of domestic policy and politics that brought about the longest peacetime expansion of the economy in U.S. history.

There are five Democrats on this list and three Republicans, none of whom were perfect. All had flaws, but party politics aren’t as important as the strengths the next president brings to the Oval Office.

Chuck Dunning, La Jolla

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