Former President Donald Trump said Tuesday he will run a third campaign for the White House, launching an early bid in 2024.
PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Former President Donald Trump said Tuesday he will pursue a third White House campaign, launching an early bid in 2024. The announcement comes just a week after the Republican midterms were close and will force the party to decide whether to accept a candidate whose refusal to concede defeat in 2020 has pushed American democracy to the brink.
“To make America great and great again, tonight I am announcing my candidacy for President of the United States,” Trump told an audience of several hundred supporters, club members and press in the chandeliered ballroom at his Mar-a-Lago. club, where he stood next to more than 30 American flags and banners bearing his slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
“I’m running because I believe the world has yet to see the true glory of what this nation can be,” Trump said.
“We will put America first again,” he added.
Trump enters the race at a moment of political vulnerability. He had hoped to launch his campaign on the heels of resounding GOP midterm victories fueled by candidates he nominated during this year’s primaries. Instead, many of those candidates lost, allowing Democrats to retain the Senate and leaving the GOP with only a bare majority in the House.
Far from being the party’s undisputed leader, Trump now faces criticism from some of his allies who say it’s time for Republicans to look to the future, with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis emerging as an early favorite for the White House.
The former president is still popular in the Republican Party. But other Republicans, including former Vice President Mike Pence, are making increasingly public moves toward their own campaigns, raising the prospect that Trump will have to run a competitive GOP primary.
His candidacy comes amid a number of criminal investigations, including several that could lead to indictments. They include an investigation into dozens of classified documents seized by the FBI at Mar-a-Lago and ongoing state and federal investigations into his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Another campaign is a remarkable turnaround for any former president, especially one who made history as the first to be impeached twice and whose term ended with his supporters violently storming the Capitol in a deadly attempt to stop a peaceful transition of power on January 6. . , 2021 year.
But Trump, according to people close to him, was eager to get back into politics and try to stop the rise of other potential challengers. Aides have spent the past months preparing documents, identifying potential collaborators and sketching the contours of a campaign modeled after his 2016 operation, when a small group of aides flying between rallies on his private jet defied the odds and won far more… funded and more savvy rivals, tapping into deep political rifts and using shocking claims to garner relentless media attention.
Even after the GOP losses, Trump remains the most powerful force in his party. For years, he has consistently outperformed his fellow Republicans by wide margins in hypothetical head-to-head matchups. And even out of office, he consistently draws thousands to his rallies and remains his party’s most prolific fundraiser, raising hundreds of millions of dollars.
But Trump is also a highly polarizing figure. According to an AP VoteCast poll of more than 94,000 voters nationwide, 54 percent of voters in last week’s midterm elections had a very or somewhat unfavorable view of him. And an October AP-NORC poll found that even Republicans have reservations about him remaining the party’s standard-bearer, with 43% saying they don’t want to see him as the 2024 presidential nominee.
Trump’s candidacy raises profound questions about America’s democratic future. The final days of his presidency were consumed by a desperate effort to hang on to power, undermining the centuries-old tradition of peaceful handovers. And in the two years since he lost, Trump’s persistent — and baseless — lies about widespread election fraud have eroded confidence in the nation’s political process. By the end of January 2021, roughly two-thirds of Republicans said they did not believe President Joe Biden was legitimately elected in 2020, an AP-NORC poll found.
VoteCast found that about as many Republican midterm voters continued to hold that belief.
Federal and state election officials, as well as Trump’s attorney general, said there was no credible evidence that the 2020 election was tainted. The former president’s fraud charges have also been strongly rejected by multiple courts, including judges appointed by Trump.
But that hasn’t stopped hundreds of midterm candidates from repeating his lies in an attempt to win over his loyal base and gain the support they crave. Ultimately, many of these candidates lost their races in a sign that voters rejected such extreme rhetoric.
While some Republicans with presidential ambitions, like former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, have long ruled out running against Trump, others have said he won’t second-guess their decisions, even before his midterm defeat.
They include Pence, who released the book on Tuesday, and former Trump Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, as well as former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who ran for Trump in 2016. Other potential candidates include Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin. Trump is also likely to face challenges from members of the anti-Trump wing of the party, such as Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, vice chair of the House committee that led the Jan. 6 investigation.
But the man who has most occupied Trump and his allies in recent months is DeSantis, whose landslide re-election as governor last week has been a bright spot for Republicans this cycle. The former congressman, who became a popular national figure among conservatives during the pandemic when he pushed back on COVID-19 restrictions, shares Trump’s fist-pumping instincts and has embraced squabbles on social issues with equal zeal.
Even some Trump supporters enthusiastically say they want DeSantis to run, seeing him as a natural successor to Trump, but without the former president’s significant baggage.
Trump has already begun publicly lashing out at DeSantis. On Tuesday, Florida’s governor fired back.
“At the end of the day, I would just tell people to go check the scoreboard last Tuesday night,” DeSantis told reporters.
A crowded GOP field could end up working in Trump’s favor, as it did in 2016, when he prevailed over more than a dozen other candidates who split the anti-Trump vote.
Trump’s decision paves the way for a potential rematch with Biden, who has said he intends to run for re-election despite concerns from some in his own party about his age and low approval ratings. Both men were already the oldest presidential candidates when they ran in 2020. Trump, 76, would have turned 82 at the end of his second term in 2029. Biden, who is about to turn 80, would have been 86 years old.
If he is ultimately successful, Trump would become only the second US president in history to serve two consecutive terms, following Grover Cleveland’s victories in 1884 and 1892.
But Trump enters the race facing enormous challenges that go beyond his party’s anxiety. The former president is the subject of multiple investigations, including a months-long investigation into hundreds of classified documents found in boxes at Mar-a-Lago.
Trump, meanwhile, is facing scrutiny from the Justice Department over efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. In Georgia, Fulton County District Attorney Fannie Willis is investigating what she says was a “coordinated multi-state plan by the Trump campaign” to influence the 2020 election.
And in New York, Attorney General Letitia James sued Trump, alleging that his namesake company engaged in falsified accounting records for decades, misleading banks about the value of its assets. The Trump Organization is also currently on trial for tax fraud.
Some in Trump’s orbit believe running would help protect him from potential indictment, but there is no legal statute that would prevent the Justice Department from moving forward — or prevent Trump from continuing to run if he is indicted.
It was no secret that he was planning.
At a White House Christmas party in December 2020, Trump told guests it had “been an amazing four years.”
“We’re trying to do another four years,” he said. “Otherwise, see you in four years.”