Trump’s campaign for another term has been long expected, but in the aftermath of last week’s historically bad midterm results, some Republicans are scrambling to find an alternative to their standard bearer.
Two years after he incited a deadly attack on the US Capitol in an attempt to overturn the 2020 election—and one week after voters in battleground states overwhelmingly delivered a historic defeat of his hand-picked candidates—Donald Trump announced he would run for president once again in 2024.
Speaking at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, Trump rambled on for over an hour, during which time he spewed lies about his first term; nursed lingering grievances and called himself a “victim”; fear mongered about violence in America’s streets; called for the death penalty for anyone who sells drugs; and painted a grim picture of America’s future.
As he did during his 2016 campaign, Trump positioned himself as the only one who could fix all of America’s problems, which he claimed will only get worse unless voters vote for him during his “comeback.”
“In order to make America great and glorious again, I am tonight announcing my candidacy for president of the United States,” Trump said.
Notably, Trump said almost nothing about voter fraud or rigged elections after his endorsed candidates—who almost exclusively ran on his “Big Lie” about the 2020 election—suffered massive defeats last week.
Trump’s announcement marks the third time in as many presidential cycles that he’s seeking to top the Republican ticket. In 2016, narrowly won the presidency by flipping the once-Democratic strongholds of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania.
During his term in the White House, Trump oversaw four years of chaos, controversy, and scandals, with his primary legislative accomplishment being a tax cut that disproportionately benefited billionaires and corporations. Trump also oversaw one of the world’s worst responses to the coronavirus pandemic by downplaying the seriousness of COVID-19, politicizing masks and other public health measures and undermining his own administration’s efforts to protect Americans from the virus.
Those failures culminated in Trump’s defeat at the hands of Joe Biden in 2020, during which Biden flipped back Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania and also won narrow victories in Arizona and Georgia. Rather than concede defeat as is the norm in a democracy, Trump sought to overturn the election through the courts, state legislatures, Congress, and ultimately, by inciting a violent insurrection on the US Capitol, an attack that left five dead and hundreds of law enforcement officers wounded.
The Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol could have marked a turning point in Republicans’ relationship with Trump, but instead, congressional leaders Sen. Mitch McConnell and Rep. Kevin McCarthy protected him from impeachment, which would have barred Trump from ever running for office again.
Facing few consequences for his actions, Trump inserted himself into dozens of primary elections in 2022, turning election denial into a litmus test for Republicans. Those efforts fizzled in the general election, as voters resoundingly said no to MAGA extremists and election denier candidates.
Trump’s candidacy comes even as he faces several investigations, including:
- a federal investigation into classified documents he improperly took from the White House;
- several ongoing inquiries into his actions surrounding Jan. 6;
- a criminal investigation in Georgia surrounding Trump’s alleged actions during the 2020 election;
- the Manhattan District Attorney’s criminal investigation into Trump’s business to determine whether Trump or his family business misled potential lenders by inflating the value of his assets.
Trump’s campaign for another term has been long expected, but in the aftermath of last week’s historically bad midterm results, some Republicans have scrambled to find an alternative to their standard bearer.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis—who won his reelection by nearly 20% last week and is a conservative favorite—has been a frequently-mentioned name, and newly-commissioned polls show him running competitively with Trump. Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin has also been mentioned as a possible alternative to Trump, and former vice president Mike Pence and outgoing Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan have also indicated they may launch campaigns for the White House.
The effort to nudge Trump aside has not gone unnoticed by the former president, who has responded with his trademark anger, narcissism, and sense of having been wronged.
DeSantis—who Trump endorsed in 2018 during his first run for governor—has drawn most of Trump’s ire, with the 76-year-old former president threatening to reveal unflattering information about the 44-year-old governor of Florida.
“If he did run, I will tell you things about him that won’t be very flattering,” Trump told the Wall Street Journal last week. “I know more about him than anybody other than perhaps his wife, who is really running his campaign.”
Trump also tried out a nickname for the governor, “Ron DeSanctimonious.”
On Tuesday, DeSantis issued his first response to Trump’s attacks.
“We’ve focused on results and leadership, and at the end of the day, I would just tell people to go check out the scoreboard from last Tuesday night,” DeSantis said at a news conference in response to a reporter’s question about Trump’s comments about him.
Trump also launched a bizarre attack on Youngkin.
“Young Kin (now that’s an interesting take. Sounds Chinese, doesn’t it?) in Virginia couldn’t have won without me. I Endorsed him, did a very big Trump Rally for him telephonically, got MAGA to Vote for him – or he couldn’t have come close to winning,” Trump wrote on Friday.
Youngkin largely avoided getting into a direct confrontation with Trump, but Hogan, whose wife and daughters are Korean American, called the former president’s words “distasteful and inappropriate” and even “racist.”
“It’s Asian hate against a white governor, and making fun of Asians,” Hogan said on CNN. “It’s just more of the same from Donald Trump, insults and attacks. And that’s one of the reasons why the party is in such bad shape.”
“I think it’s basically the third election in a row that Donald Trump has cost us the race, and it’s like three strikes, you’re out,” Hogan added. “This should have been a huge red wave. It should have been one of the biggest red waves we have ever had … And yet we still didn’t perform.”
Whether DeSantis, Youngkin, Hogan, or anyone else is able to beat Trump remains to be seen, but his candidacy’s viability won’t be up to other politicians in Washington so much as the hardcore Republican base, which continues to be loyal to Trump.
A new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll released Tuesday found that 47% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say they would support Trump if the Republican presidential primary were held today. Only 33% said they would back DeSantis, and 5% said they would support Pence. No one else cleared 2%.