In presidential announcement, Trump offers same lies, bombast

We’ve seen and heard this before.

The lush backdrop. The yeasty mixture of exaggeration, lies and resentment.

Just four minutes after his presidential announcement Tuesday night, Donald Trump floated a new – and bizarre and fantastical – theory that Chinese government interference cost him his re-election.

Some things never change and never will change.

What is striking about Trump’s early and abrupt entry into the 2024 race is how familiar it seemed. Not only in its sulphurous tone and the gold-plated fittings. But also the position in which the former President finds himself trying for the umpteenth time to defy expectations and destroy the rules by which most politicians live.

When Trump glided down the gilded escalator in Trump Tower in June 2015, he was widely considered a novelty, a self-inflated hot air balloon that had virtually no chance of winning the Republican nomination, let alone the presidency.

All this time later – after four years in the White House, three lost election cycles, two impeachments and an attempted coup – Trump is back where he started politically and is once again trying to convince voters that he has a serious chance of to win the presidency.

Even before the red mirage at halftime, there were signs that Trump was losing sight of the Republican Party.

More than 6 in 10 partisans polled in a pre-election NBC News poll said they considered themselves more supporters of the GOP than Trump, the highest percentage since the question was first asked in January 2019.

Countless times it has been believed that the overwhelming majority of Republicans are ready to disown Trump. Choose your adventure: taking down the John McCain and Gold Star families; the “Access Hollywood” tape; the White Power uprising in Charlottesville, Virginia; the failed 2020 reelection bid; the uprising of January 6th.

Maybe this time it’s really different.

“It’s three straight elections that he’s led the party to defeat,” said Rob Stutzman, a Sacramento-based GOP strategist who has been a long-time Trump critic. “He finally lived up to his promise, which was, ‘You’re going to get tired of winning.’ I think Republicans might get tired of losing.”

Of course, the number of GOP believers who pledge allegiance to Trump is not insignificant. The NBC poll put that support at 30%; others suggest it’s slightly larger. If, as in 2016, Republican support splintered into a large pool of primary candidates, that base could be enough for the former president to reassert himself and win the nomination.

When he first ran, Trump was grossly underestimated, which proved crucial to his success.

Republican rivals assumed Trump would inevitably fall by the wayside. So they were reluctant to attack him or even slightly criticize him lest they anger Trump supporters and lose their support once he finishes the race. By the time they realized their mistake, it was too late. Trump was unstoppable.

Will he be treated with the same deference this time?

Early indications are that this is not the case. A number of GOP prospects plan to show up in Las Vegas on Friday — including political flavor du jour, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — for an audition at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual meeting.

Some are only too happy to hand in their midterm autopsies, declare their divorce from Trump, or both.

“There was… a lot of disappointment,” DeSantis told reporters Tuesday at an event in Florida ahead of Trump’s announcement. “That’s just the reality. It was an extremely stunning, disappointing performance, especially considering that [President] Biden’s policies are overwhelmingly unpopular.”

Former Vice President Mike Pence, who is promoting a new book, was cuttingly short. When asked in an ABC interview about Trump and his plans for 2024, Pence – once the model of unwavering subservience – replied succinctly, “I think we’ll make better decisions going forward.”

However, it’s one thing to comment and take potshots from the confines of a television studio or, in the case of DeSantis, running a thinly veiled shadow campaign for the GOP nomination. It remains to be seen how many will actually declare their candidacy and step into Trump’s line of fire.

Experience has shown the foolishness of firing or writing off the former president, however tempting it may be.

He’s the frontrunner right now to claim the GOP nomination.

“Am I expecting a cake walk? No, not at this time,” said policy analyst Stu Rothenberg. “But I think he starts with a significant advantage. He is a former President of the United States and has a large part of the party behind him.”

Whether Trump’s candidacy is good for the Republican Party, let alone such an acutely polarized country, is another question entirely.

Much of the tension and hostility can be traced back to four unrelenting years of Trump’s bombast and belligerence; Tuesday’s announcement was a reminder of how shameful and toxic he is.

In more than an hour storm and stress, Trump offered little forward-looking, apart from vague promises. Instead, Trump flattered himself, brooded over old squabbles and nudged old nemesis like Biden, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and the FBI.

There are many self-serving reasons why Trump would run again.

Attention is his oxygen. A presidential campaign is a marketing opportunity to sell even more MAGA paraphernalia and Trump-branded doodads. In his opinion, it could keep prosecutors at bay, or at least color possible criminal charges against Trump as politically motivated.

No matter what’s good for the GOP or America. When it comes to ex-presidents, Trump always comes first. In presidential announcement, Trump offers same lies, bombast

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