Trump’s third run for the White House appears a matter of when not if | Donald Trump | The Guardian

    As the midterm elections loom in the US and Republican hopes of retaking Congress rise, it appears it is now a matter of when, not if, Donald Trump will announce his third White House run.

    The former president has trailed another campaign ever since his 2020 defeat by Joe Biden, a contest Trump refused to concede, pursuing the lie about electoral fraud which fueled the deadly attack on Congress and his second impeachment.

    In Texas last month, Trump said: “In order to make our country successful, safe and glorious again, I will probably have to do it again.”

    Now, a flurry of reports say Trump will move swiftly after the midterms, seeking to capitalise on likely Republican wins fueled by focusing on economic anxieties and law and order.

    “I’m like 95% he’s going to run,” Reince Priebus, the former Republican chairman who became Trump’s first White House chief of staff, told the Associated Press this week.

    “The real question is are other big challengers going to run? If President Trump runs, he will be very difficult for any Republican to defeat.”

    On Wednesday, Vanity Fair reported that Ron DeSantis, Trump’s nearest challenger in polls regarding 2024, and who as governor of Florida has deployed Trumpist policies and theatrics, may keep his powder dry.

    One Republican “briefed on donor conversations” was quoted as saying: “He’s led them to believe he will not run if Trump does.” Another said that at 44, DeSantis “can walk into the presidency in 2028 without pissing off Trump or Florida”.

    DeSantis does seem likely to beat his Democratic challenger, Charlie Crist. Trump seems equally likely to run for president again, particularly as doing so might help him avoid or complicate multiple investigations.

    Early voting begins last week in Fort Myers, Florida.

    Trump is in legal jeopardy over attempted election subversion, in Georgia as well as around January 6; his retention of classified White House records; his business affairs, subject to civil and criminal lawsuits; and a defamation suit from a writer who says he raped her.

    He denies wrongdoing. But earlier this week, the Hill quoted a “veteran” Republican aide as saying: “A couple of weeks after the election, I assume that [the US attorney general, Merrick] Garland will indict Trump.”

    A second aide said an indictment “could actually end up helping [Trump] politically”. Trump has long presented investigations as political witch-hunts, a reliable way of whipping up his base.

    ‘The sorts of things campaigns do’

    Not everyone thinks Trump will run. Michael Cohen, his former lawyer who went to prison after admitting offences including lying to Congress, fraud and campaign finance violations related to paying off women who claimed affairs with Trump, thinks Trump won’t risk a second defeat.

    Speaking to the Daily Beast, Cohen said: “One of the things he knows is that his popularity, even among Republicans, has diminished … people are sick and tired of the chaos he creates every single day. And I think they’re getting sick and tired of the way that the Trump 2.0-ers are doing the exact same thing.

    “He cannot afford, emotionally, to be a two-time loser.”

    Polls show Trump is likely to win the Republican nomination but have also shown most Americans do not want him to do so. One survey, by NewsNation/Decision Desk HQ, found that 57% said Trump should not run again – though among Republicans, the total fell to 26%.

    Cohen also said Trump may have financial reasons not to run.

    “If you read the fine print, he has sole discretion over 90% of all of the money that his supporters are currently giving him, that makes it into a 90% slush fund. So I bet if you look to see how he paid to fix his airplane, which was sitting on the tarmac for a long time, I guarantee it’s coming from that slush fund.”

    The poll that showed most voters do not want Trump to run also showed that more than 60% of Americans and 30% of Democrats said Biden should not run either. Nonetheless, the Washington Post this week reported that the president, who will soon turn 80, is “quietly” preparing to do so. A rematch of 2020 seems likely – and Trump, a relatively sprightly 76, has reportedly started recruiting.

    According to the news site Puck, “aides are doing the sorts of things that campaigns do in their early stages, like having those hard conversations about what worked in 2016 and did not in 2020, about hierarchy and titles, and engaging vendors”.

    Multiple reports have linked Chris LaCivita to the nascent campaign. The longtime Republican operative was behind the group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which in 2004 took a hammer to John Kerry’s decorated service in Vietnam, holing the Democrat below the waterline in a campaign against a president, George W Bush, who memorably avoided that war.

    The homestretch

    Most observers think Trump is holding back his announcement to avoid distracting from key midterm races. Such races include Senate contests in Ohio and Pennsylvania where the Trump-endorsed Republicans, JD Vance and Mehmet Oz, are locked in tight fights that could decide control of the chamber.

    But Trump is nothing if not a disruptor and the AP reported this week that an announcement could yet come at a rally in the midterms homestretch.

    The former president is due to appear in Sioux City, Iowa, on Thursday. Iowa will kick off the Republican primary in 2024.

    On Saturday, three days before election day, he is due to appear in Pennsylvania to support Oz and Doug Mastriano, the extremist, election-denying candidate for governor. On Sunday, he will rally in Florida. On Monday, the last day of the campaign, Trump will speak in Dayton, Ohio.

    A more personal motive may be in play. Tiffany Trump, the former president’s daughter with his second wife, Marla Maples, will marry Michael Boulos at Trump’s Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago, on 12 November.

    Puck reported that Trump was “factoring his daughter’s upcoming nuptials into his thinking about when he will announce his candidacy”.

    This content was originally published here.

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