In order to defeat Donald Trump and win the Republican nomination in 2024, one of the many candidates in the field must accomplish a series of herculean, Mission Impossible-level feats: raise gargantuan sums of money, become a known figure to millions of voters in the short sprint of about six months, and exhibit enough on-camera charisma and brashness to outshine Trump on a debate stage, while simultaneously hacking away at former president in a way that doesn’t cause his MAGA supports to revolt. This candidate, of course, must also be thick-skinned enough to endure the brutality of the daily mainstream news cycle and every possible negative story that could possibly be written.
And if that’s not enough, they’ll need to possess supernova-like attentional powers that can rival the most famous politician on the planet, and win over both the honchos at Fox News as well as digital nihilists of the right-wing internet, all while feeding aggrieved Republican primary voters a steady diet of culture war negativity and smash-the-left fury.
And that’s all before the first vote in Iowa on January 15. Somewhere in there, this fearless candidate—the white knight hope of G.O.P. donors and bow-tied columnists who want to rescue their party from Trumpism—will find time to eat, sleep, raise more money, and maybe squeeze in a few minutes on the only treadmill at the Coralville Holiday Inn Express.