According to Politico, the hesitation is mainly because everyone wants "someone else" to be the "early Trump foil." An adviser to a potential candidate has even shopped the idea of "multiple candidates announcing around the same time." One anonymous Republican told Politico, "I think they think a group launch … provides them protection from Trump."
Every one of these candidates should be embarrassed. At the risk of being cliché, if these wannabe presidents can't stand up to Donald Trump, how can you expect them to stand up to – well, insert your preferred boogeyman here.
By the first day of February 2019, Democrats Cory Booker, Julian Castro, John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Marriane Williamson, and Andrew Yang had either formally announced their 2020 bids or formed exploratory committees. In January 2015, Republicans Jeb Bush and Scott Walker established political action committees that were precursors to their campaign launches, and Mike Huckabee quit his Fox News show in preparation for his bid.
Granted, none of those people won their primaries; after all, most presidential candidates lose. But if someone starts with minimal national support and mostly regional name recognition – and that describes most of the potential Republican presidential field – every day not in the race is a lost day. Precisely because the battle is decidedly uphill, second-tier candidates should be eager to get in the race and create opportunities for themselves so they can climb into the first tier (which in the 2020 Democratic primary, Warren was able to do, even though she was unable to stay there for long.)