WASHINGTON ( Associated Press) – Donald Trump is starting 2022 on a good note. Primary candidates turned to Florida to woo the former president for a coveted endorsement. His rallies attracted thousands of people. A body of inquiry against him did not attract much public attention.
One year later, Trump is facing a very different reality.
He is embroiled in a criminal investigation that could lead to prosecution. He has been blamed for the Republicans’ dismal performance in the November elections. And while he is now a contender for the US presidency, the six weeks since he announced it have been marked by self-inflicted crises. Trump has not held a single campaign event and has barely left the confines of his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida.
Instead of fending off potential 2024 rivals, they seem to have sprung up. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who recently won a landslide victory that propelled him to re-election, is increasingly being seen as the most formidable competitor facing Trump.
Trump’s toned-down campaign advertising has even his former supporters wondering whether he is serious about another run for the White House.
“There was a movie called ‘Failure to Launch’ (literally ‘Failure at Launch’). I think that’s how the Donald Trump candidacy process has gone so far. He made the announcement and it’s been around ever since.” Has done nothing to support,” said Michael Biundo, a Republican political operative who advised Trump’s campaign in 2016 but is no longer involved.
“Which campaign?” asked Dan Eberhart, a longtime Republican donor who donated $100,000 to support Trump’s 2020 re-election bid but is now leaning toward DeSantis. “Trump’s early release seems more like a response to DeSantis’ better-than-expected performance and more like a legal ploy against prosecutors than a political campaign.”
Trump campaign officials insist weeks have passed since his Nov. 15 announcement systematically developing a political campaign. They say the ex-president made the announcement just before the Christmas season, when politicians do not like to be ignored, and did so unusually quickly, giving him plenty of time to prepare. got the time.
“This is a marathon and our plan is execution by design,” said Trump spokesman Steven Cheung.
“We are also assembling high-level teams in early voting states and expanding our massive data operations to ensure we dominate on all fronts,” he added. “We’re not going to play the game of the media that tries to dictate how we run the campaign.”
Trump also defended himself against criticism over the slow start to his campaign. “The rallies will be bigger and better than ever (because our country is going to hell) but it’s a bit early don’t you think?” he wrote on his social media site.
Despite the fact that he has not held campaign events, the former president has generated controversy.
there are the affairs of his dinners with a white nationalist and rapper formerly known as Kanye West, who has made countless anti-Semitic comments and alleged conspiracies; his suggestion that parts of the constitution be repealed so that he could return to power; and the “big announcement” that turns out to be the release of a $99 digital trading card that does not benefit his campaign.
Since running for re-election for president, he has also suffered several legal defeats, including the appointment of a special prosecutor to oversee the Justice Department’s investigation into the presence of secret documents at Trump’s Florida mansion, as well as a Key aspects of separate investigations are also included. Including Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Trump’s namesake company was found guilty last month of tax fraud for helping its executives avoid taxes on extravagant privileges. In Georgia, a special grand jury appears close to completing its investigative work on Trump’s efforts to stay in power at the end of his presidency.
Trump’s potential rivals have spent months laying the groundwork for their own campaigns, visiting early voting states, speaking before conservative groups and developing relationships that could benefit them in the future.
Bob Vander Platts, president and CEO of The Family Leader, an Iowa-based conservative group, cited Republicans such as former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, who have all visited the state. Times.
“He’s done the work necessary to get in front of Iowans, and he’s been very well received,” she said, noting that Trump has been “unusually quiet” since announcing his candidacy. Is. In many ways, it seems like an announcement that didn’t happen, or didn’t happen because there was no immediate expectation… I don’t hear people on the street saying, ‘I’m waiting for Trump to apply. Huh’. ‘Did you hear about the Trump ad?’
He sees the poor performance of some Trump-endorsed candidates in the 2022 midterms as a “cautionary note”, even as Trump supporters are open to supporting someone else in the 2024 race.
“For president, I think he definitely has to earn the nomination,” he said.
Despite his weaknesses, Trump remains the leading Republican challenger in this early phase. While he is seen as likely to lose in a matchup between just the two contenders, he is likely to benefit from a larger field of candidates splitting the anti-Trump vote, as he did when he ran and won in 2016. .
But Biundo, a former Trump campaign adviser, said that after seeing potential candidates like Pence in early voting states, he also believes there is a very good chance that either party’s nominee will be the nominee.
“I don’t think Donald Trump insured it. I don’t think Ron DeSantis insured it. I don’t think anybody insured it,” he said. “Right now, primaries are for anybody.”