WASHINGTON — Vote counting is not yet complete in the 2022 U.S. congressional elections, and a key Senate runoff contest is three weeks away, but former President Donald Trump is looking ahead, announcing Tuesday night he is running again for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.
“America’s comeback starts right now,” Trump said.
It is his third White House bid, after his upset win over Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016 and his unsuccessful reelection attempt in 2020. To this day, he contends, wrongly, that he was unfairly cheated out of another four-year term because of vote-counting irregularities in several political battleground states he lost to Democrat Joe Biden, now the country’s 46th president.
Trump made the announcement, with political aides and supporters at his side, at his oceanside Mar-a-Lago retreat in the southern state of Florida, his wintertime home since he left Washington as his White House tenure ended in January of last year.
Trump is facing political headwinds, however, as he looks to rejoin the seemingly nonstop U.S. political fray, beyond his constant political commentary and disparagement of Biden’s administration over the last 22 months.
Trump told his supporters Tuesday that when he left office, the country was “ready for its golden age.”
“But now we are a nation in decline,” Trump said. “We are a failing nation. For millions of Americans, the past two years under Joe Biden have been a time of pain, hardship, anxiety and despair.”
He has blamed Biden for the country’s high inflation rate, an unending stream of undocumented migrants crossing the southwestern U.S. border with Mexico and said that Russian President Vladimir Putin would not have invaded Ukraine last February if he were still the U.S. leader.
Shortly after Trump’s announcement, Biden tweeted a video with clips from Trump’s presidency, saying his predecessor made economic policy that favored the rich, coddled extremists and attacked the rights of women.
“Donald Trump failed America,” Biden said.
Politics aside, Trump is also confronting several criminal investigations of his conduct related to his presidency that could soon override the importance of any campaigning.
Trump has not been charged with any wrongdoing. Federal and state prosecutors are investigating whether he illegally attempted to upend Biden’s victory, though, by thwarting the official congressional certification of the election.
They are trying to determine whether he criminally attempted to overturn his loss in the southern state of Georgia by asking state election officials to “find” him enough votes to overtake Biden in the state, and whether he fomented the riot by 2,000 Trump supporters at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 last year as they tried to block the final certification of the election.
In addition, Trump is facing an investigation into whether he illegally took hundreds of highly classified national security documents with him to Mar-a-Lago when he left the White House instead of turning them over to the National Archives as required by law.
Prosecutors have not publicly disclosed any timetable for when the investigations might be completed and decisions made on whether to file charges against the former president, which would be a first in U.S. history.
To be sure, Trump enjoys wide support among his base of Republican supporters, including millions of voters and some politicians who believe Biden was not legitimately elected. The next Congress will include more than 170 House Republicans who say they believe Trump should have been declared the victor in the 2020 election or who have questioned the legitimacy of the outcome.
National polls show, however, that a majority of Americans believe Biden won fairly, even if they give him less than a 50% approval rate for his performance in office. The 76-year-old Trump, as it turns out, is rated even lower than Biden on the approval-disapproval scale.
Biden turns 80 next Sunday and says he is planning to run for reelection in 2024 but won’t make a final decision until early next year.
Most polls show Trump is the leading contender for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, but he remains a polarizing figure and certainly is not the automatic choice for the party.
Key Republican officials, including Trump’s former vice president, Mike Pence, and others who served in his administration, including then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and then United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, have hinted they also could launch campaigns against Trump for the party’s presidential nomination.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, fresh off his resounding 19-percentage point reelection victory last week, has drawn a wide look from Republican partisans as a possible party standard bearer in the 2024 presidential race.
He is viewed as someone supporting many of the same conservative policies as Trump, but without the day-to-day personal drama that surrounded Trump during his presidency and since then.
DeSantis has not declared his presidential intentions, but Trump has taken notice of his popularity among Republicans, recently disparaging him as “Ron DeSanctimonious,” and attacking him for not already declaring that Trump should be the Republican nominee in 2024.
Pence, promoting a memoir published this week about his four years in the White House, told ABC News, “I think we’ll have better choices in the future” than Trump. Pence said he is considering a run for the party nomination.
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press.