“I would tell them there’s a lot of good people running for president right now on the Republican side,” he said, “and I think having me or anybody else get in the race right now really undermines our ability to be able to win and beat Joe Biden, which we absolutely must do.”
Some GOP strategists and donors had promoted Kemp as a “break-the-emergency-glass” candidate as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and other Trump rivals struggle to gain traction in a field that boasts more than a dozen Republican hopefuls.
They pointed to Kemp’s back-to-back victories over Democrat Stacey Abrams while withstanding the fury of Trump, who blamed him for his 2020 defeat and then backed former U.S. Sen. David Perdue’s disastrous primary challenge against the governor last year.
The latest call came over the weekend when The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin wrote that Kemp and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin offer Republicans the “only real chance for the party to move beyond Trump.”
And former Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan stoked the talk when asked about Kemp’s prospects on CNN. He said the governor has put on display “what conservative leadership looks like — and he did it in a nonhateful way.”
Although Kemp hadn’t previously slammed the door shut on a White House run, he also hadn’t made any moves that would have set up a run.
He hasn’t built up the organizational structure or the fundraising apparatus to wage a labor-intensive national campaign, with just a few staffers in his political operation compared with hundreds lined up by DeSantis and Trump.
And polls show Kemp trails Trump even in Georgia, where the former president suffered some of his most stinging electoral setbacks.
Instead, many of Kemp’s closest allies see him as far more likely to challenge U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff in 2026 while promoting his vision of the GOP. He has pointedly criticized Trump as he encourages Republicans to move beyond 2020 election grievances.
In the WSB interview, Kemp said he’ll help Republicans flip back Georgia after Biden became the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry the state since 1992. But he also said his top priority is clear.
“I’m focused on my job as Georgia governor,” he said. “Who knows what the future will hold? But we’re focusing every day right now on bringing good-paying jobs and opportunities to Georgians and keeping them safe in their communities.”