Donald Trump pulled the trigger on a third White House run on Tuesday night, setting the stage for a bruising Republican nomination battle after a poor midterm election showing by his hand-picked candidates weakened his grip on the party.
Trump officially launched a campaign for president in 2024, filing papers with the Federal Election Commission in which he declared himself a candidate for the presidency and established a new campaign committee.
Trump is expected to give a speech later in the evening at his Florida private club, Mar-a-Lago.
“America’s comeback starts right now,” the 76-year-old former US President told hundreds of supporters gathered in an ornate American flag-draped ballroom at his palatial Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida.
“The voting will be much different. Are you getting ready?” Trump said.
“This will not be my campaign. This will be our campaign all together,” he said to the cheering crowd.
Agence France-Presse reports that Trump’s unusually early entry into the White House race is being seen in Washington as an attempt to get the jump on other Republicans seeking to be the party flag-bearer in 2024 – and to stave off potential criminal charges.
Republicans are licking their wounds after disappointing midterms, widely blamed on the underperformance of Trump-anointed candidates, and some are openly asking whether Trump – with his divisive brand of politics and mess of legal woes – is the right person to carry the party colors next time around.
Several possible 2024 primary rivals are circling, chief among them the governor of Florida Ron DeSantis, who bucked the tide and won a resounding reelection victory on November 8.
Trump, who lost the 2020 elections to Democrat Joe Biden after being impeached twice by the House of Representatives, launches his latest White House bid with several potential handicaps.
He is the target of multiple investigations into his conduct before, during and after his first term as president – which could ultimately result in his disqualification.
These include allegations of fraud by his family business, his role in last year’s attack on the US Capitol, his attempt to overturn the 2020 elections, and his stashing of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.
With Trump now a declared candidate, Biden’s attorney general, Merrick Garland, may be forced to name a special counsel to pursue the various investigations into the former president launched by the Department of Justice.