Former President Donald Trump is preparing to launch his third campaign for the White House on Tuesday, looking to move on from disappointing midterm losses and defy history amid signs his grip on the Republican Party is waning.
Trump had hoped to use the GOP’s expected gains in last week’s election as a springboard to roll into his party’s nomination by locking in early support to keep potential challengers at bay. Instead, he now finds himself being blamed for backing a string of losing candidates after disappointing results in which Democrats retained control of the Senate and control of the House is still too early to tell.
“Hopefully tomorrow will prove to be one of the most important days in our country’s history!” Trump signed on his social network on Monday. An announcement was expected at 9 p.m. EST Tuesday from his club in Palm Beach.
Another campaign is a remarkable turnaround for any former president, let alone one who made history as the first to be impeached twice and whose term ended with his supporters violently storming the US capital in a deadly bid to stop it peaceful transition of power on 1 January. 6, 2021. Only one president in US history has been elected to two non-consecutive terms: Grover Cleveland in 1884 and 1892.
Trump also faces a series of intensified criminal investigations, including a Justice Department investigation into the hundreds of documents with classified markings discovered in boxes and drawers at his Mar-a-Lago club.
Aides and allies had urged Trump to wait until after the midterms were over — and then until after a Dec. 6 Senate runoff in Georgia — to announce his plans. But Trump, eager to return to the limelight, also hopes to fend off a long list of potential challengers, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who cruised to re-election last week and is now being urged by many in his party to run for president a well.
Trump has sought to blame Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell for the GOP’s performance — and McConnell’s allies have criticized Rick Scott, the Florida senator who heads the Senate Republican Campaign Committee.
However, Trump has drawn the most criticism for nominating candidates in states like Pennsylvania and Arizona that were unappealing to general election voters because they embraced his lies about the 2020 election or held hardline views on issues like abortion that were out of step with the mainstream .
While Trump has the support of the No. 3 Republican in the House, Rep. Elise Stefanik, others were already on their way.
Asked whether she would support Trump in 2024, Republican Sen. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming told reporters Monday: “I don’t think that’s the right question. I think the question is, who is the current leader of the Republican Party?”
When asked who it was, she replied, “Ron DeSantis.”
Late. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, a longtime Trump critic, compared Trump to a pitcher who keeps losing after GOP disappointments in 2018, 2020 and now 2022.
“He’s been on the mound and lost three straight games. If we want to start winning, we need somebody else on the mound. And we have a very strong bench that can come out,” Romney said. “I know, there are some fans who love him. Just like, you know, an aging pitcher, they’re always fans who want to keep them there forever. But if you keep losing games, try to put some new players on the field .”
Others expressed concern that Trump’s announcement would be a distraction from the Georgia race and urged potential candidates to focus there.
“What’s really important for anyone who wants to be a candidate in 2024 is to help us right now in 2020 to finish the cycle by winning the state of Georgia,” said Sen. John Thune, RS.D.
“We obviously had higher expectations in the Senate, which didn’t pan out. I think there are a lot of different things that contribute to that,” Thune added. “But I think that, you know, people who were unreasonably focused on the 2020 election, that’s not a winning strategy with independent votes.”
Even the former president’s right-wing allies in the House Freedom Caucus stayed away from Trump’s announcement.
“I’m focused on what’s going on here,” said Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., Freedom Caucus chairman, as lawmakers returned to Capitol Hill Monday. “I just don’t pay attention to any of those things, so I don’t want to comment on that.”
Meanwhile, in Utah, 86 Republican lawmakers on Monday sent out a press release urging DeSantis to run, reflecting dissatisfaction with having Trump as their party’s standard-bearer. The state’s Mormon majority has long been skeptical of Trump’s isolationism and foul language.
And in Michigan, Michigan Republican Party chief of staff Paul Cordes wrote a four-page internal memo criticizing Trump-backed candidates for “statewide sweeps” that will give Democrats full control of state government for the first time in 40 years. That includes Tudor Dixon, who lost the governor’s race to Democratic incumbent Gretchen Whitmer by double digits.
Trump, Cordes wrote, was “popular among our grassroots and a motivating factor for his supporters, but presented challenges on a statewide ballot, particularly with independents and women in the midterms.”