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Former mayor of Cranston, R.I., launches GOP challenge against Trump

The Hill 2023-02-02 Julia Shapero
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Steve Laffey, the former mayor of Cranston, R.I., launched a 2024 presidential bid on Thursday, becoming one of the first Republicans to officially challenge former President Trump for the GOP nomination. 

“I’m running because our country needs to directly confront its problems,” Laffey said in a video announcement. “My party and the elected leaders of our country simply refuse to do so.”

The former mayor touted his background as a financial expert with experience in the private sector in Thursday’s announcement, while seemingly taking a jab at Trump. 

“We don’t need just a businessman. We don’t need career politicians. We have a financial crisis, and we need specific solutions,” he said.

Laffey served as mayor of Cranston, a city just outside of Providence, R.I., from 2003 to 2007. He also made an unsuccessful bid for Senate in 2006.

The former mayor told The Providence Journal that he hopes to make it to the primary debate stage to force other candidates to discuss Social Security, which is a central plank of his campaign.

“Issues like that won’t be in the debate unless you watch me there … [and] I do what I do,” Liffey told the Journal, adding, “I will turn to whoever [asks] me something about abortion. I’ll say ‘I’m pro-life’ but let me tell you … Social Security.”

The long shot presidential bid comes after reports emerged on Wednesday night that Nikki Haley, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, is planning to launch her own campaign on Feb. 15. Haley has repeatedly hinted at a potential presidential run in recent months.

Trump, who launched his campaign after the midterm elections in November, lashed out at Haley and other potential rivals on Thursday. However, the former president did not mention Laffey’s recently announced challenge.

“[Haley] said, ‘I’ll never run against my president. He’s a great president. He’s been our greatest president. I’ll never run. I’ll never run,’” Trump said in an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. “But Nikki suffers from something that’s a very tough thing to suffer from. She’s overly ambitious.”

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