HO CHI MINH CITY –
Donald Trump started 2022 on a high. Preliminary candidates have flocked to Florida to woo the former president over the coveted endorsement. His rallies drew thousands of people. A wide range of investigations remains largely within sight.
A year later, Trump is facing a very different reality.
He is mired in criminal investigations that could end in indictments. He has been blamed for the Republican party’s disappointing performance in the November election. And while he has now been announced as the presidential candidate, it’s been six weeks since he announced he was. marked by self-inflicted crises. Trump has not held a campaign event and he has barely left the confines of his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida.
Instead of stopping challengers, his potential opponents in 2024 seem increasingly bolder. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, recently re-elected in a landslide, is increasingly seen as Trump’s most formidable opponent.
Trump’s lighthearted campaign announcement has made even former solid candidates wonder if he is really serious about another run for the White House.
“There was a movie called ‘Failed to Release’. I think that’s what Donald Trump’s campaign has been so far. He made the announcement and he hasn’t done anything to support it since,” said Michael Biundo, a GOP special agent who advised Trump’s 2016 campaign but is currently running the campaign. The direction is clear at this point.
“What campaign?” asked longtime GOP donor Dan Eberhart, who gave US$100,000 to Trump’s 2020 reelection effort but is now attracted to DeSantis. “Trump’s early launch appears to be a response to DeSantis overactivity and a legal strategy against prosecution rather than a political campaign.”
Trump campaign officials insist they have spent the weeks since his November 15 announcement methodically building a political campaign. They noted that Trump made the announcement just before the holiday season, when politicians usually lie dormant, and that he did so unusually early, giving him plenty of time to get up to speed.
Trump spokesman Steven Cheung said: “This is a marathon and our game plan is being worked on by design.
“We are also bringing together top-level teams in early voting states and expanding our massive data operation to ensure we prevail on all fronts,” he said. “We’re not going to play the media game that tries to dictate how we campaign.”
Trump also defended criticism of the slow start of his campaign. “The Protests will be bigger and better than ever (because our Country is going to Hell), but it’s a little early, don’t you think?” he wrote on his social networking site.
While he has avoided campaign events, the former president remains controversial.
Had his dinner with a white nationalist and rapper formerly known as Kanye West, who spewed anti-Semitic conspiracies and plots; his suggestion that parts of the Constitution be terminated to bring him back to power; and the “important announcement” turned out to be that the launch of a $99 digital trading card did not benefit his campaign.
Since the announcement, he has also faced a series of legal losses, including the appointment of a special counsel to oversee the Justice Department’s investigation into the presence of classified documents at Trump’s Florida mansion as well as key aspects of a separate investigation into Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Trump’s eponymous company has been found guilty of fraud. tax fraud last month for helping executives evade taxes on lavish perks. In Georgia, a special grand jury appears to be concluding its investigation into his efforts to maintain power.
Potential Trump opponents have spent months laying the groundwork for their own campaigns, visiting early voting states, speaking before conservative groups and building the kinds of relationships that could yield. benefits for them.
Bob Vander Plaats, president and chief executive officer of The Family Leaders, an Iowa-based conservative group, singled out Republicans like former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former Ambassador United Nations Nikki Haley, who has repeatedly visited the state.
“They’ve done the initial work needed to get in front of the people of Iowa and they’ve been very warmly received,” he said, noting that the time since Trump announced his candidacy was ” unusually quiet. In many ways, it looks like the notification didn’t even happen or didn’t feel like it did because there was no immediate echo. … I didn’t hear from his people on the ground, ‘I can’t wait for Trump to run for office.’ ‘Did you hear Trump’s announcement?'”
He called the poor performance of several Trump-backed candidates in the 2022 midterm elections a “warning flag” and said that even Trump supporters were willing to back others in the election. running for office in 2024.
“As for the president, I think he’s definitely going to have to win the nomination,” he said.
Despite his weaknesses, Trump remained a frontrunner in the early GOP era. Although he is seen as likely to be defeated in a one-on-one confrontation, he is likely to benefit from a crowded field that divides the anti-Trump vote, just as he did when ran and won in 2016.
But Biundo, a former Trump campaign adviser, said that after watching likely candidates like Pence visit early voting states, he also believes the field is wide open.
“I don’t think Donald Trump locked it. I don’t think Ron DeSantis locked it. I don’t think anyone has locked it,” he said. “At this point, it’s an open main course.”