WASHINGTON — With each passing day, former President Donald Trump looks more like he is running to reclaim the Oval Office in 2024. The real question is not when he will start campaigning but whether he will end.
Trump held rallies in key States including one in Iowa ,, the home of the first presidential nomination contest. He told voters that “We’re going back to take America back.” “
Trump is endorsing candidates to federal and state office, sometimes in primaries, and taking credit when they win, such as last week, after Virginia Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin and the newly elected Rep. Mike Carey (R-Ohio) won races.
Trump continues to flood inboxes with near-daily fundraising appeals for his political action committee, “Save America,” which was sitting on $90 million — a veritable fortune in national politics — when it last made a disclosure to the Federal Election Commission in June. He continues to seek out GOP officials that might be in opposition to a third run for the presidency and calls them “Republicans only” and worse.
“It is very sad that the RINOs of the Senate and House gave Biden and Democrats a win on the ‘Non Infrastructure Bill,” Trump stated in a statement following the House’s Friday sending of a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill to President Joe Biden. “All Republicans who voted to prolong the Democratic Party’s existence should be ashamed. “
It’s clear that Trump retains control over the Republican electoral base and the ability to influence the majority of the party’s elected officials and candidates. According to GOP strategists, it is still unclear what Trump intends to do with this power.
“I would describe what Trump is doing right now as not not running for president,” said Chris Wilson, a longtime Republican strategist and pollster who worked on Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s 2016 presidential campaign. “Everything he’s doing could morph into a 2024 campaign quite easily, but it also keeps him in the public eye and with a strong base of political power if he decides to play kingmaker in the primary and do something else instead. “
Indeed, he is making all of the moves of a presidential candidate — and with far more capacity to command national attention than any other potential GOP 2024 hopefuls. The rest of the field is small next to Trump: ex-Vice President Mike Pence, ex-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Florida Governor. Ron DeSantis and Sens. Sens. Ron DeSantis, Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), and others.
Trump’s name recognition, deep support from the GOP, and ability to raise money all make it possible for him to delay a formal decision. John J. Pitney is a Claremont McKenna College political science professor.
“If Trump wants to be nominated for the GOP nomination, it is his right to do so,” Pitney stated. “Trump is unique,” Pitney said. He can “content himself with making cash, waging litigations and getting the occasional fix audience applause.”
In late May, longtime Trump adviser Jason Miller told NBC News that “there’s a good chance” that Trump runs if he thinks he is well-positioned to win. Miller was one of many Trump advisors who did not respond to requests to comment.
Democrats are paying close attention to Trump’s positioning.
” The Trump threat should not to be underestimated,” stated Chris Kofinis, a Democratic strategist and strategist who has worked on several presidential campaigns. “How serious a threat Trump poses depends on how voters feel Democrats are listening to their concerns. “
Kofinis pointed out Youngkin’s victory in Virginia and the slim re-election bid of New Jersey’s Democratic Governor as evidence of this problem for Democrats. Phil Murphy in a state that favors Democrats by large margins.
” “You don’t need to look beyond New Jersey or Virginia to see how out of touch we are right now,” he stated.
Though White House officials hope Biden will get a bounce from the enactment of his infrastructure bill — and perhaps a social spending bill behind it — his approval ratings have been under water since August, according to the Real Clear Politics average of national surveys. They stand at 42.7 percent, with his disapproval at 51.3 percent.
Many Republicans look at Youngkin as a model tightrope-artist. They saw him appeal to Trump’s base on cultural issues, while also reassuring the independent voters by keeping his distance from Trump. This structure still highlights the indispensibility of Trump-minded voters to support the GOP. Youngkin ran up huge turnout numbers in the same rural communities that helped deliver Trump’s 2016 victory and kept him close in the electoral college in his failed 2020 re-election bid. Those voters are still energized, and many of them are waiting for Trump’s return to the ballot.
If he officially runs in 2024, he won’t have to launch a campaign. It has already started.