By JILL COLVIN (Associated Press)
PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) – Former President Donald Trump announced on Tuesday that he will launch a third campaign for the White House, starting at the beginning of the 2024 race. The announcement came just a week after After a dismal midterm showing for Republicans that will force the party to decide whether to embrace a candidate who has refused to run in 2020 has sparked outrage and undermined American democracy. to the side.
“To make America proud and glorious again, I’m announcing tonight that I’m running for president of the United States,” Trump told thousands of supporters, club members and the crowd. press in the lighted ballroom at his Mar-a- The Lago club, he stood next to more than 30 American flags and flags bearing his slogan “Make America Great Again “. “I’m running because I believe the world has never seen the true glory of this nation.”
“We will put America first again,” he added.
Another campaign is a remarkable turnaround for a former president, much less the man who made history as the first to be elected twice, ending his term with his supporters storming the Capitol to prevent smooth transfer of power on January 6, 2021.
Trump enters the race at a time of political uncertainty. He had hoped to launch his campaign after the GOP won the midterms, thanks to the candidates he promoted in this year’s primaries. However, many of those candidates lost, allowing Democrats to retain the Senate and leaving the GOP with a path to a simple majority in the House.
Far from the party’s undisputed leader, Trump is now facing criticism from some of his own allies, who say it’s time for Republicans to look to the future, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is emerging as a favorite candidate for the White House.
The former president remains popular with the GOP base. But other Republicans, including former Vice President Mike Pence, are stepping up public engagement with their own campaigns, raising hopes that Trump will seek to accelerate a GOP race. first.
He is launching his candidacy in the midst of a growing number of criminal investigations, including many that lead to indictments. They include the investigation of dozens of documents and identifications seized by the FBI from Mar-a-Lago and the ongoing state and federal inquiries to turn over the results. of the 2020 presidential election.
But Trump, according to people close to him, was eager to get back into politics and try to block the rise of other challengers. Assistants had spent the last few months preparing paperwork, identifying potential employees, and writing parts of a campaign that was being modeled for his 2016 campaign, when something went wrong. small group of aides between meetings on his private jet defied the odds to defeat better- a better-funded and smarter rival by tapping into deep political fault lines and using the breaking news to drive media attention.
Even after the GOP’s defeat, Trump remains a powerful force in his party. For years he has outperformed his Republican rivals by wide margins in head-to-head contests. And even outside of office, he draws crowds to his rallies and remains his party’s biggest fundraiser, raising hundreds of millions of dollars.
But Trump is a very polarizing figure. Fifty-four percent of voters in last week’s polls viewed him unfavorably, according to the AP VoteCast, a survey of more than 94,000 voters across the country. And an October AP-NORC poll found that Republicans are on the hook for remaining the party’s standard bearer, with 43% saying they don’t want to see him run for president. year 2024.
Trump’s candidacy raises deep questions about America’s democratic future. The final days of his presidency were spent in a desperate bid to stay in power, breaking the tradition of centuries of peaceful transition. And in the two years since his loss, Trump’s persistent — and unfounded — falsehoods about widespread voter fraud have eroded confidence in the nation’s political system. At the end of January 2021, nearly two-thirds of Republicans said they did not believe President Joe Biden was elected correctly in 2020, an AP-NORC poll found.
VoteCast showed many Republican voters in the midterm elections held that belief.
Federal and state election officials and Trump’s own attorney have said there is no credible evidence that the 2020 election was tainted. The former president’s allegations of fraud have been rejected by several courts, including Trump-appointed judges.
But that didn’t stop hundreds of mid-term candidates from telling lies as they sought to win over his loyalist base and garner the much-needed support. In the end, most of those candidates lost their races on the evidence that voters rejected these important statements.
While some Republicans and presidential hopefuls, such as former UN Secretary-General Nikki Haley, have long decided not to stand against Trump, others have said he does not care about their decisions. , even before his midlife slump.
They include Pence, who released a letter on Tuesday, as well as Trump’s former secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who ran against Trump in 2016. Other possible candidates include Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, South Carolina Governor Tim Scott and Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin. Trump may also face challenges from anti-Trump members of the party such as Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, vice chairman of the House committee investigated on January 6.
But the person who has been most at odds with Trump and his allies in recent months is DeSantis, whose election as governor last week is a bright spot for Republicans this shift. The former speaker, who has become a national celebrity among conservatives during the pandemic as he pushes back against COVID-19 restrictions, shares Trump’s pugilistic traits with the embrace fighting for social causes with great intensity.
Even some Trump supporters say they want DeSantis to run, as he is a natural successor to Trump but does not have the former president’s big budget.
Trump has begun bashing DeSantis publicly. On Tuesday, the governor of Florida fired.
“At the end of the day, I just tell people to go check the scoreboard from last Sunday night,” DeSantis told reporters.
The large number of GOP supporters can play to Trump’s advantage, as in 2016, when he won over a dozen candidates who broke the anti-Trump vote.
Trump’s decision opens the way for a rematch with Biden, who has said he wants to run for re-election despite concerns from some in his party about his age and low approval ratings. Both men are the oldest presidential candidates to run in 2020. Trump, 76, will be 82 at the end of the second term in 2029. Biden, who is almost 80 age, 86 years.
If he succeeds, Trump will be the only US vice president in history to serve two terms, following Grover Cleveland’s victories in 1884 and 1892.
But Trump enters the race facing major challenges beyond his party’s shakiness. The former president is the subject of several investigations, including a months-long investigation into hundreds of documents and identifications found in boxes at Mar-a-Lago.
Currently, Trump is facing a Justice Department investigation into efforts to sway the results of the 2020 presidential election. In Georgia, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is investigating what he says “a multi-state plan, organized by the Trump Campaign” to influence the 2020 results.
And in New York, Attorney General Letitia James sued Trump, saying his name-brand company engaged in fraudulent accounting for decades by misleading banks about the value of its assets. The Trump Organization is also currently on trial, facing criminal tax charges.
Some in Trump’s orbit believe the run will help prevent him from possible impeachment, but there is no law preventing the Justice Department from moving forward — or preventing Trump from running if he is indicted. .
It was no secret what he was planning.
At a White House Christmas party in December 2020, Trump told guests “it’s been an amazing four years.”
“We’re trying to do another four years,” he said. “If not, I’ll see you in four years.”
Follow Colvin on Twitter at https://twitter.com/colvinj