Former President Donald Trump has announced he has made a decision on whether to run for a second term in 2024.
He will run, he told New York Magazine — he just has to decide whether to announce his campaign before or after the 2022 midterm elections.
“I’ve already made that decision,” he said about a 2024 run.
According to New York Magazine —
“Look,” Trump said, “I feel very confident that, if I decide to run, I’ll win.”
I fixated on If I decide. Trump is less a politician than a live-action mythological creature, and so punditry and all of the standard forms of analyses tend to fail. What would factor into such a decision for such an unusual person? “Well, in my own mind, I’ve already made that decision, so nothing factors in anymore. In my own mind, I’ve already made that decision,” he said.
He wouldn’t disclose what he’d decided. Not at first. But then he couldn’t help himself. “I would say my big decision will be whether I go before or after,” he said. “You understand what that means?” His tone was conspiratorial. Was he referring to the midterm elections? He repeated after me: “Midterms.” Suddenly, he relaxed, as though my speaking the word had somehow set it free for discussion. “Do I go before or after? That will be my big decision,” he said.
He was thinking aloud now. “I just think that there are certain assets to before,” he said. “Let people know. I think a lot of people would not even run if I did that because, if you look at the polls, they don’t even register. Most of these people. And I think that you would actually have a backlash against them if they ran. People want me to run.”
Polls show he’s the most popular figure in the Republican Party — but it wasn’t always that way.
Competing at one point against a dozen rivals for the presidential nomination in 2016, Trump won only about one-third of the vote in key early states. He even lost in Iowa, which kicks off the nomination process. At the time, Trump claimed that Sen. Ted Cruz, R-T.X., rigged the caucus against him.
Trump later prevailed because those in the party who opposed him were never able to coalesce around a single rival. That same dynamic could repeat itself in 2024.
With a growing list of candidates gearing up to run, even a Trump diminished by two impeachments and mounting legal vulnerabilities could hold a commanding position in a fractured, multi-candidate primary.
“I fear it could end up the same way as 2016, which basically was everyone thought everyone else should get out,” said Republican strategist Mike DuHaime, who advised former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s campaign that year. “I think every major candidate realized that he or she would have a better shot against Trump one-on-one. But of course each person thought he or she should be the one to get that shot and nobody got out of the way. … And then it was too late.”
The anxiety is mounting as a growing list of potential rivals take increasingly brazen steps, delivering high-profile speeches, running ads, courting donors, and making repeat visits to early voting states.
That group now includes upward of a dozen could-be candidates, including Trump’s former vice president, Mike Pence; his former secretary of state, Mike Pompeo; and Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Rick Scott of Florida, and Tim Scott of South Carolina. All could run on the former president’s policies.
In the anti-Trump lane, politicians such as Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan are raising their profiles.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is increasingly seen as Trump’s heir apparent, even by Trump’s most loyal supporters, and viewed by Trump allies as his most formidable potential challenger.
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Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and others have said they will not challenge Trump if he does go forward. But others, including Christie, seem to be gunning for the fight, even if they are long shots.
“I’m definitely giving it serious thought. I’m not gonna make any decision probably until the end of the year,” Christie said in a recent interview. He has urged the party to move on from Trump and his ongoing obsession with the 2020 election.
“For me, it’s about the party needing to go in in a new direction from a personality perspective, and to continue to have someone who can bring strong leadership, tough leadership, that the country needs, but doesn’t have all of the other drama that goes along with it,” he said. “I’m hearing the same things from donors that I’m hearing from voters — that they’re very concerned that we can’t put ourselves in a position to have 2024 be about anything but the good of the country.”
Pompeo, who has had a busy travel schedule and plans to return to Iowa this summer, said in a recent interview that he has been spending time reading and listening to former President Ronald Reagan’s speeches as he prepares for a possible run.
“We’re getting ready to stay in the fight,” he said last month as he courted evangelical Christians at a gathering in Nashville, Tennessee.
He said he and his wife would sit down after the November elections and “think our way through it, pray our way through it, and decide where’s best to serve. It could be presenting ourselves for elected office again. We may choose a different path. But we’re not gonna walk away from these things that I’ve been working on for 30 years now. They matter too much.”
Pompeo sketched out a possible approach in much the same mold as Trump.
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“He was a disruptor that was most necessary in 2016, there’s no doubt about that,” Pompeo said. And now the task is to take those set of understandings, those set of principles, and defend them and build upon them. And it’s gonna take a lot of work to do that, leaders of real fortitude and character to do that.”
Not everyone is convinced that Trump will run away with the nomination.
“I don’t think anybody underestimates Trump. There’s a reason he’s the most sought-after endorsement in every single Republican primary,” said GOP strategist Alex Conant. “That said, I think there’s a recognition that a lot of Republican voters are looking to the future and ready for what’s next.”
Trump’s paid events and signature rallies remain popular, however.
On Friday night, he campaigned in Las Vegas alongside Adam Laxalt, his pick for Nevada Senate. And on Saturday night, he planned a rally in Anchorage, Alaska, to campaign with Kelly Tshibaka, whom he has endorsed in her race against Sen. Lisa Murkowski, and others, including former Gov. Sarah Palin, now running for Congress.
The Horn editorial team and the Associated Press contributed