Former President Donald Trump announced Tuesday that he will mount a third White House campaign. His declaration launched an early start to the 2024 contest. Now party loyalists have a big decision. Will they embrace a candidate who wouldn’t accept defeat in 2020 and who faces legal trouble—or find another leader to rally around?
“In order to make America great and glorious again, I am tonight announcing my candidacy for president of the United States,” Trump told several hundred supporters. He made the announcement at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida. “I am running because I believe the world has not yet seen the true glory of what this nation can be.”
“We will again put America first,” he added.
Mounting another campaign is remarkable for any former president. It’s especially so for one who was the first to be impeached twice and whose term ended with supporters storming the U.S. Capitol building on January 6, 2021.
Trump enters the race in a moment of political weakness. He hoped to launch his campaign in the wake of resounding GOP (an acronym for "Grand Old Party," the nickname of the Republican Party) midterm victories. Instead, a number of the candidates he endorsed lost.
Even after the losses, Trump remains the most powerful force in his party. For years, he has consistently topped fellow Republican contenders in imagined matchups. Even out of office, he regularly attracts thousands to his rallies. He remains his party’s biggest fundraiser, raising hundreds of millions of dollars.
But Trump is also a deeply divisive figure. Plus, he’s launching his candidacy amid a series of mounting criminal investigations. Several could lead to indictments.
A survey of more than 94,000 voters nationwide indicates that 54 percent of voters in last week’s elections viewed him very or somewhat unfavorably.
The former president is still popular with much of the GOP base. But he now faces criticism from some of his allies. And 43% of Republicans say they don’t want him to run for president in 2024.They say it’s time for Republicans to look to the future.
To that end, other Republicans are taking steps toward campaigns of their own. Possible competitors include Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, former Vice President Mike Pence, Texas Senator Ted Cruz, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, and Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin.
Trump’s decision paves the way for a potential rematch with President Biden. The President says he intends to run for reelection. That’s despite concerns from some in his party over his age and low approval ratings. The two men were already the oldest presidential nominees ever when they ran in 2020. Trump, who is 76, would be 82 at the end of a second term in 2029. President Biden, who is about to turn 80, would be 86.
If successful, Trump would be the second U.S. president in history to serve two nonconsecutive terms. Grover Cleveland won elections in 1884 and 1892.
Though his announcement came just yesterday, Trump’s plan to run again hasn’t been a secret.
At a White House Christmas party in December 2020, Trump told guests it had “been an amazing four years.”
“We are trying to do another four years,” he said at the time. “Otherwise, I’ll see you in four years.”
Look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. — Exodus 18:21
(Former President Donald Trump arrives to speak at Mar-a-lago on Election Day, November 8, 2022, in Palm Beach, Florida. AP/Andrew Harnik)