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Hawley Denies He’s Angling For The Presidency, But His Actions Say Otherwise

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Dylan Housman Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent
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Republican Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley insists he isn’t running for president in 2024, but his recent actions have led many political analysts to doubt the truth of that promise.

The freshman GOP senator, the youngest in the chamber when he was elected in 2018, has taken a number of stances to quickly distinguish himself from many of his colleagues. Hawley told Politico that running for president is “clearly not” his focus, but he remains a common pick to be among the main crop of Republican candidates less than four years from now.

Hawley has taken steps to mark himself as a leader of the “resistance” to the Biden administration much in the same way some 2020 Democratic presidential candidates did with the administration of former President Donald Trump. He’s the only member of the Senate thus far to vote “no” on every single one of President Joe Biden’s cabinet nominees, a tactic that was used in 2017 by some Democrats like New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand to stand out in what became a crowded primary field.

Hawley was also one of seven Republican senators who objected to certifying presidential election results from Arizona or Pennsylvania following the Capitol riot. He received intense backlash from media, Democrats and some Republicans who criticized him for seeming to lend credibility to the mob gathered at the Capitol before eventually storming the building.

Nonetheless, the choice to remain firm in his opposition to election certification did distinguish him with part of the GOP base. He raised nearly $1 million in January according to Politico, and has become a regular on Fox News and other conservative media outlets. (RELATED: While Dominion Seems Poised To Sue Dozens In Right Wing Media, OANN Announces Whopping Three-Hour Fraud Special Featuring Mike Lindell)

Hawley also voted against the resolution that allowed Biden’s COVID-19 stimulus to pass the Senate through budget reconciliation, despite being one of the strongest Republican proponents for a bigger stimulus package under Trump. Thus far, the Missouri senator has found little to no common ground with the new president.

“He’s clearly laying groundwork for running for president in 2024. There’s no way else to explain this behavior,” Republican strategist Scott Reed told Politico. One part of Hawley’s “behavior” that has stood out to some is his willingness to throw himself onto the front line of the trendy new issues aggrieving conservatives.

One such issue is the ongoing battle between the right and Big Tech. Hawley’s legislative record is fairly short, given he’s only been in Congress for about two years, but several of the acts of legislation he’s introduced have been related to the role tech companies play in politics and security.

Perhaps most notably, Hawley introduced the National Security and Personal Data Protection Act to ban companies from storing user data in China. He’s frequently used his platform to call into question the executives who run social media platforms like Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and has said government should play a bigger role in protecting political speech online.

Hawley has also made a name battling “cancel culture.” In the days following the Capitol riot, Hawley had his book deal with Simon & Schuster cancelled. His title, “The Tyranny Of Big Tech”, was later picked up by Regnery Publishing.

Hawley published an op-ed in the New York Post after the incident, saying it’s “time to stand up against the muzzling of America.”

“Those who believe in the First Amendment and the fundamental principles of American liberty must now take a stand, while we still can,” he wrote.

Hawley’s stances indicate he’s angling for a populist, Trump-like lane in the GOP, whether he runs for president or not. His actual governing record is short though, due to his relatively brief time in government.

Hawley was attorney general of Missouri for about two years. After saying he would complete his full term, he declared his candidacy for Senate months after being sworn into that office in 2017. “Hawley’s always been a young man in a hurry,” Reed told Politico.

Aside from the Big Tech bills he’s introduced to Congress, the biggest legislative impact he’s had has been on COVID-19 relief. He partnered with Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders to advocate for bigger stimulus checks near the end of the Trump administration. (RELATED: Poll: 68% Of Americans Support Biden’s $1.9 Trillion Stimulus Bill)

Beyond those tech and stimulus examples, though, Hawley has largely staked out his positions rhetorically. He supported many of the non-traditional Republican policy stances of the Trump administration, including on trade, saying the World Trade Organization should be “abolished.”

Hawley also followed Trump’s lead on immigration, offering full-throated support for a physical wall on the southern border. When Biden’s Secretary of Homeland Security nominee Alejandro Mayorkas wouldn’t commit to spending $1.4 billion for a border wall, Hawley responded by holding up his confirmation process.

The young senator has also said the U.S. should refocus national security attention towards China and away from the Middle East, a position that puts him more in line with the Trumpist populists than the GOP’s “old guard” of Middle East hawks. “We have got to change our relationship with China. It is now or never,” Hawley told Fox News host and Daily Caller co-founder Tucker Carlson in 2020. (RELATED: White House Convenes Top Level National Security Meeting To Debate Action On Iran)

If Hawley does decide to run for president, he will have time to bolster his young congressional record over the next three or so years. Competition will be fierce, though. Many prospective 2024 hopefuls, from Florida Sen. Marco Rubio to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz are also apparently aiming to take the baton from Trump.

Hawley declared that Republicans are a “working class party” now on Nov. 3, 2020. The Ivy League-educated lawyer will now have his chance to prove that he’s the one who can lead the GOP that direction.

Maybe he’s telling the truth, and he won’t run for president in 2024. Former manager of Rubio’s presidential campaign Terry Sullivan told Politico he’s in perfect position to do so, though: “Josh Hawley is doing all the right things to capitalize politically on a significant portion of the Republican base.”