Trump kicks off his 2024 election campaign


Former US President Donald Trump kicked off his run for the 2024 White House with Saturday stops in New Hampshire and South Carolina, events in early voting states marking the first campaign appearance. since he last announced his candidacy more than two months ago.

“Together, we will finish the unfinished business of making America great again,” Trump said at an evening event in Columbia to introduce his South Carolina leadership team.

Trump and his allies hope events in states with great power in selecting candidates will show the strength behind the former president after a slow start to the campaign left many people confused. questioned his re-election pledge.

“They said, ‘He doesn’t hold rallies, he doesn’t campaign. Maybe he missed that step,” Trump said at the New Hampshire GOP annual meeting in Salem, his first.

However, he told an audience of party leaders, “I’m angrier now and I’m more committed than ever.” In South Carolina, he dismissed further speculation by saying “we’ve been planning big protests, bigger than ever.”

While Trump has spent the months since announcing he is mostly hiding in his Florida club and nearby golf course, his aides insist they are busy backstage. His campaign has opened a headquarters in Palm Beach, Florida, and is hiring. And in recent weeks, supporters have been reaching out to political activists and elected officials to secure support for Trump at a critical time when other Republicans are preparing to vote. suffer for their own expected challenges.

In New Hampshire, Trump touted his campaign, including immigration and crime, and said his policies would run counter to those of President Joe Biden. He cited the Democratic Party’s move to change the election schedule, causing New Hampshire to lose its lead, and accused Biden, who finished fifth in New Hampshire in 2020, of “contaminating tradition. shamelessly beloved politics.”

“I hope you’ll remember that in the general election,” Trump told party members. Trump himself has twice won the primaries, but has lost the state to the Democrats each time.

Later in South Carolina, Trump said he plans to keep the state’s presidential primaries “a first in the South” and call it “a very important state.”

In his speech, he moved from criticism of Biden and other Democrats to disparaging comments about transgender people, mocking those promoting the use of electric stoves and electric cars, and Time to reminisce about efforts as president to increase oil production, strike trade deals and rift. Migration reduction at the US-Mexico border.

While Trump remains the only declared presidential candidate in 2024, potential challengers, include Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, who served as Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, are expected to begin their campaigns in the coming months.

After his speech in South Carolina, Trump told the Associated Press in an interview that it would be “a great act of disloyalty” if DeSantis opposed him in the primaries and took credit in the election. original governor.

“If he runs, that’s fine. I’m leading in the polls,” Trump said. “He will have to do what he wants to do, but he can run away. I really thought that would be an act of disloyalty because, you know, I brought him in. He has no chance. His political life is over.”

He said he hadn’t spoken to DeSantis in a while.

Governor Henry McMaster, US Senator Lindsey Graham and several members of the state’s congressional delegation attended Trump’s event at the Statehouse.

Trump’s team has struggled to garner support from South Carolina lawmakers, some of whom have been eager to support him in the past. Some say that more than a year from the primary vote is too early to give endorsement or they are waiting to see who else will enter the race. Others have said that it is time for the party to overtake Trump to move on to a new generation of leadership.

South Carolina House of Representatives Speaker Murrell Smith is among legislative leaders awaiting Trump’s arrival, though he said he is there not for official confirmation but to welcome the former president to the state in his role. is a speaker.

On the other hand, dozens of supporters crammed into the ceremonial hall between the House of Representatives and the state Senate, jostling with reporters and camera crews for space between marble-topped tables and bronze statues with life size of former Vice President John C. Calhoun.

Dave Wilson, president of the conservative Christian nonprofit Palmetto Family, said some conservative voters may be concerned about Trump’s recent comments that Republicans oppose abortion. no exception cost the party in the November election.

“It gives some in the conservative ranks of the Republican Party pause on whether we need due process,” said Wilson, whose team hosted a speech for Pence in 2021. resolved or not”.

But Gerri McDaniel, who worked on Trump’s 2016 campaign, dismissed the idea that voters were ready to leave the former president. “Some media keep saying that he is losing support. No, he’s not,” she said. “It’s only going to be bigger than before because there’s a lot of people angry about what’s happening in Washington.”

The South Carolina event in a way didn’t fit the brand of a one-time reality TV star who often supported massive protests and tried to build an image of an outsider. The protests were costly and Trump added new financial challenges when he decided to start his campaign in November – much earlier than expected. That makes him subject to strict fundraising regulations and prohibits him from using his well-funded leadership political action committee to pay for such events, which can cost a few dollars. millions of dollars.

Trump’s campaign, in its early stages, was controversial, most notably when he dined with Nick Fuentes, a white nationalist who denies Holocaust, and rapper formerly Kanye West , who made a series of anti-Semitic comments. Trump was also mocked by many for selling a series of digital trading cards featuring him as superheroes, cowboys and astronauts, among others.

He is the subject of a series of criminal investigations, including an investigation into the discovery of hundreds of classified documents at his Florida club and whether he obstructed justice by refusing to return them, as well as state and federal inspections of his debunking efforts. the results of the 2020 election that he lost to Biden.

Early polls, however, showed him as the favorite to win his party’s nomination.

“The guns have gone off and the campaigning season has begun,” said Stephen Stepanek, outgoing chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party. Trump announced that Stepanek will serve as a senior adviser to his campaign in the state.


Kinnard reported from Columbia, South Carolina and Colvin from New York. Associated Press writer Michelle L. Price in New York contributed to this report.

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