Trump gears up for 2024 presidential bid

Trump, according to people close to him, is eager to get back into the political game despite the many ongoing criminal investigations against him.

NEW YORK – While playing in front of a crowd of supporters in Robstown, Texas, former President Donald Trump drew cheers as he talked about his first two runs for the White House – and teased a third.

“To make our country successful, safe and glorious again, I will probably have to do it again,” he said last month.

That carefully placed “probably” may soon disappear from Trump’s cryptic speech. The former president’s aides are quietly preparing for the 2024 presidential campaign that could be kicked off shortly after next week’s midterms as Trump tries to capitalize on the party’s expected win. Republican to push himself to be the frontrunner for his party’s nomination.

Reince Priebus, Trump’s former chief of staff, said: “I’m 95% like he’s going to run. “The real question,” he added, “will the other big challengers run? If President Trump runs, he will be very hard to beat by any Republican.”

Another campaign would be a remarkable turning point for any former president, much less the one who made history as the first person to be impeached twice and still embroiled in numerous investigations. crime and intensifying, including an investigation of classified information held at his Mar-a-Lago club and his attempt to pressure election officials to overturn the results of election 2020. Trump has a history dating back to the 1980s of openly toying with White House bids only to back down.

But Trump, according to people close to him, is eager to get back into the political game. While he has been talking about a bid since before he left the White House, aides and allies are now eyeing the two-week period after the November 8 midterm as a moment. maybe for an announcement, although they warn he hasn’t made a decision yet and that – as always with regards to Trump – things could change, especially if the election results are delayed due to a recount or a possible election in Georgia.

Indeed, even as discussions are underway about potential locations and dates for an official announcement, Trump continues to tease the possibility of declaring his intentions at one of the rallies. that he had planned for the election.

The preparations come as Trump is stepping up efforts to help midterm candidates in the final weeks of the election, hoping to deliver the expected benefit of Republicans in Congress to build motivation for his own election campaign.

Trump has dramatically increased his spending after facing criticism for not helping financially his favored candidates while continuing to siphon off small dollar donations. According to ad tracking company AdImpact, his newly launched super PAC MAGA Inc. has now spent more than $16.4 million on advertising in several competing states, according to ad tracking company AdImpact, with additional investments expected through Election Day, according to people familiar with this endeavor. like others, spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal operations.

And Trump continues to host events to support his candidates, with 30 rallies to date in 17 states, along with dozens of virtual rallies and more than 50 candidates raising funds. His final midterm rally will take him to Ohio and Pennsylvania, two key presidential polling states where his endorsement has helped candidates secure their nominations. He will also return to Iowa, which hosts the first contest on the presidential nomination calendar.

In total, Trump’s Save America PAC says he has raised nearly $350 million this election cycle for Republican candidates and party committees, including calling for a cause. online fund.

While Trump’s team is identifying potential employee prospects in key states and preparing the paperwork to file if he goes ahead with an announcement, according to people familiar with the plan, a who emphasized that the recruitment has not yet begun. Trump’s campaign, at least in its first few months, is expected to remain headquartered in Florida and look like his current political run, overseen by a small set of advisers. which he has fostered since leaving office – reminiscent of his famous 2016 campaign.

Chris LaCivita, the Republican strategist who was behind the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” campaign that heavily damaged Democrat John Kerry’s 2004 presidential prospects, is working on the PAC’s super PAC. Trump and is expected to take on a senior leadership role during the campaign, according to people familiar with the conversations, as well as Susie Wiles, a longtime Florida special agent who oversaw the efforts. his political power.

The 2024 campaign will kick in when polls close on November 8, and potential challengers have spent months carefully laying the groundwork for their own tentative campaigns. That includes Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is considered by many to be Trump’s most formidable challenger and who cultivated an extensive network of donors when he ran for office.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Florida Senator Rick Scott, and Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton actively raised funds for midterm candidates, as well as former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley.

Trump, meanwhile, faces growing challenges. He remains a deeply polarizing figure, especially after spending the past two years spreading lies about the 2020 election. And while Trump is still dominated by Republicans, an election An AP-NORC poll in October found that 43 percent said they don’t want to see him run for president in 2024.

Underscoring that polarization, many in Trump’s orbit have urged him to wait for an announcement until after the midterms to avoid turning the election into a referendum on him.

Others close to Trump remain skeptical that he will eventually experience another run, arguing that his ego cannot take another loss or fear a possible indictment. Others question whether he will eventually end up voting in 2024, even if he does run a campaign.

Campaigns also need staff, and Trump’s trajectory has shrunk dramatically over the past two years. Many former aides are expected to stay away from the other effort because they have broken up with Trump, have switched, or fear that joining could expose them to potential legal scrutiny – and legal bills. monk.

For someone preparing to launch a presidential campaign, Trump also remains unusually distracted by legal threats.

The Justice Department is intensifying its investigation into how hundreds of marked documents were classified at his club in Palm Beach, Florida. State prosecutors in Georgia continue to probe his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, as do the DOJ and House committee investigating the June 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. January, recently served a subpoena asking for his testimony.

In New York, Attorney General Letitia James sued Trump, accusing his eponymous company of engaging in decades of bookkeeping fraud. The Trump Organization is currently on trial for criminal tax fraud charges, and Trump recently sat to be impeached in a lawsuit by E. Jean Carroll, who alleges Trump raped her in the mid-1990s Trump denies the allegations.

Meanwhile, Republicans across the country, from multi-dollar donors to longtime GOP leaders and rank-and-file voters, have weighed in on whether they want to stick with Trump. or not.

At a recent Iowa Republican Party fundraiser led by Pence, voters praised Trump’s time in office but were confused about whether they wanted him to join another campaign. .

“I’d love to see him run again,” said Jane Murphy, 81, a longtime Republican volunteer living in Davenport. “He made me angry with some of the things he said. But he got the job done, clear and simple.”

But Carol Crain, a GOP activist in eastern Iowa, has voiced reservations.

“I think a lot of Republicans get tired of drama and fighting,” said Crain, 73. Surprised, everyone said it would be great if he could endorse someone and go away in grace. “

Associated Press writers Scott Bauer of Madison, Wis., and Thomas Beaumont of Wilton, Iowa, contributed to this report. Trump gears up for 2024 presidential bid

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