On a gilded stage at Mar-a-Lago, former president Donald Trump announced that he would run again for the 2024 Republican nomination, with a declaration that “America’s comeback starts right now.”
Unlike his 2016 campaign, where he famously declared “I alone can fix it,” Trump emphasized the movement behind him. “This will not be my campaign,” he said. “This will be our campaign.” He said America was in “grave trouble” and that “this is a task for a great movement.”
Trump, who already filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to create his official campaign, recalled the years of presidency with nostalgia, reading off of a teleprompter in a subdued tone and occasionally going off script. But despite the new tone, he hit many of the same notes that he’s embraced since his 2016 campaign, including securing the border and projecting strength to global adversaries.
He addressed Republicans’ lackluster performance in the midterms by celebrating the defeat of Nancy Pelosi as speaker of the House and accusing the media of downplaying the success of his endorsed candidates. In an aside, he criticized the election process, saying that the wait for final calls for the House came only after “a ridiculously long and unnecessary period of waiting.”
Trump said that by 2024, the state of the country “will sadly be much worse,” adding, “We’ll see much more clearly what happened and what’s happening to the country, and the voting will be much different.”
By the end of his speech, however, after CNN and Fox News cut off the livestream, he had started reciting some of his most divisive talking points, alluding to immigrant caravans and calling for the death penalty for drug dealers.
Trump chose quite the week to make his long-awaited announcement that he’s running for president. In many ways, he’s weaker than he’s been at any point since his ascent to the presidency in 2016, with the exception of the GOP backlash he faced in the days after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.
Some Republicans, reeling from their lackluster midterm performance, have cooled on Trump and his hand-picked Senate candidates who lost competitive races. Trump’s fall in status has given some Republicans an opening to be more vocal than usual about alternative 2024 candidates. New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu took a major swipe at the former president recently, saying it would be a “big mistake” to announce a presidential bid this week and that he wouldn’t support Trump in 2024.
In an interview Monday night on ABC, former vice president Mike Pence didn’t go quite as far as Sununu but did say, “I think we’ll have better choices in the future.” Pence also confirmed that he’s considering running for president himself.
Meanwhile, the Club for Growth, an anti-tax Republican funding group, is signaling that it may support DeSantis instead. Trump’s announcement at Mar-a-Lago in Florida, a bright spot for Republicans in 2022 largely due to DeSantis’ popularity, marks the beginning of a battle for Florida Republicans over who they want for their president.