Who's running for president? Field of delusional also-rans will make Trump the GOP nominee.

Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Exhibit A: the Grand Old Party.

A major reason Donald Trump won the 2016 nomination was the massive primary field. Scarred by tangling with the front-runner, Republicans trained their fire on The Donald’s top challenger on any given week.

Chris Christie kneecapped Marco Rubio, John Kasich blasted Ted Cruz, and Jeb! ended his campaign low-fiving Trump on the debate stage.

Like a bucket of crabs, GOP hopefuls pulled down anyone trying to escape, leaving Trump the lone survivor. With 17 declared candidates, what did they expect?

Did the Republican National Committee learn their lesson? Of course not.

Former Vice President Mike Pence and U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, during her Roast and Ride campaign rally on June 3, 2023, in Des Moines. Pence, who filed paperwork two days later with the Federal Election Commission, is expected to publicly launch his 2024 campaign with a rally in Des Moines on June 7.

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The 2024 campaign is shaping up to be another grasping bucket of crabs.

So far, seven have entered: Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, former Govs. Nikki Haley of South Carolina and Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and talk-radio host Larry Elder.

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Four other no-names have thrown their MAGA hats in the ring, while four bigger names are expected to announce soon: Mike Pence, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum.

According to early polls and common sense, only Trump and DeSantis have a shot at the nomination. Yet delusion springs eternal for the cellar dwellers.

When Fox News host Bret Baier told Hutchinson that he was below 1% in the polls, the former Arkansas governor bragged that he rocketed up to 3% in South Carolina.

Christie earned a powerhouse endorsement last month: Anthony Scaramucci, most famous for his 10-day run as Trump’s communications director.

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Perhaps the only good news is most of the 2016 also-rans are sitting out this time. But the way 2024 is shaping up, the debate stage will need bleachers.

Most of these candidates have to know they aren’t going to be the next president, so why are they wasting our time? Ego, mostly.

Politicians tend to surround themselves with yes men and true believers. Add in the ease of promotion on social media and the potential for a national network of small donors.

If one or two big money types fund a longshot, along come the political consultants eager for a taste of that cash.

A failed presidential run also builds a personal brand, which leads to book deals, speaking engagements and maybe a Cabinet appointment once the dust settles.

Then, there’s the most desperate hope of all. What if the top dog suddenly drops out for no expected reason? And so does every other candidate, making the vice governor of East Carolina the last one standing?

From left, John Kasich, Mike Huckabee, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie and Rand Paul at a Republican presidential debate on Oct. 28, 2015, in Boulder, Colo.

Will a large field of Republican candidates help Trump?

Whatever the reason, a baker’s dozen of hopefuls plays right into Trump’s orange hands.

To date, the single-digit wannabes are attacking Biden a little, attacking DeSantis most, but are afraid to speak a word against the party leader.

After all, Trump might give them a mean nickname, and we can’t have that.

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As the old maxim says, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result.

Unless several candidates recognize the 2016 trap, Trump will eke out a primary win with a plurality of voters.

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All Republicans can expect then is another White House loss in 2024, which Trump will insist was stolen, and run again in 2028.

History always repeats.

Jon Gabriel, a Mesa resident, is editor-in-chief of Ricochet.com and a contributor to The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com, where this column first published. On Twitter: @exjon

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Trump will win 2024 primary if the Republican field stays crowded