The race for the 2024 Republican White House nomination is about to heat up as two long-tipped contenders enter the fray.
Former US Vice-President Mike Pence and ex-New Jersey Governor Chris Christie are poised next week to join the increasingly crowded field.
It places a big political target on the back of the current front-runner, former President Donald Trump, setting the stage for what promises to be an acrimonious contest.
The eventual winner looks likely to challenge President Joe Biden, a Democrat, in the election of November next year.
Mr Pence will launch his campaign on 7 June in Iowa, according to sources close to his campaign, putting him on a collision course with his former boss.
For four years, he was a loyal deputy to Mr Trump as his vice-president – until 2021’s Capitol riot splintered their relationship.
The son of a Korean War veteran, Mr Pence began his career in conservative politics as a talk radio host.
He was elected to the House in 2000 and served until 2013, describing himself as a “principled conservative” and aligning with the Tea Party movement.
He also served as governor of Indiana from 2013-17. In that role, he passed the largest tax cut in state history, and signed bills to restrict abortion and protect religious freedom.
Mr Pence, 63, is a born-again evangelical Christian and his addition to the 2016 presidential ticket is credited with helping mobilise the crucial voting bloc on behalf of Mr Trump.
Calm and soft-spoken, he was seen as an effective surrogate to the bombastic president. But Mr Trump turned on him for lacking “courage” after he refused to help overturn the 2020 election results.
Pro-Trump rioters stormed the US Capitol in January 2021 and were heard chanting “Hang Mike Pence!” At one point, they were reportedly within 40ft (12m) of the vice-president.
The two have largely kept their distance since, but Mr Pence has been in a delicate dance to avoid alienating Trump-friendly voters.
According to multiple sources, the former New Jersey governor plans to announce his candidacy on 6 June at a town hall event in New Hampshire, where the first Republican primary election will be held.
After his own 2016 presidential bid failed, Mr Christie allied himself with Mr Trump, leading the incoming president’s transition team and preparing him for debates against Mr Biden in 2020.
But he has become a vociferous critic of Mr Trump since the US Capitol riots.