Former U.S. President Donald J. Trump will make his return to the public arena on Sunday in what is sure to be a fiery speech at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida. And while Trump seems set to imply he is the “presumptive 2024 nominee“, at least for now, two trusted former Trump White House aides are cautioning that the former president won’t announce any formal plans to run in 2024 or declare his candidacy during the address.
Why Trump Is Not Ready to Declare for 2024 Call, Yet
A former White House aid who spoke to Trump recently about his CPAC address told me that the ex-president wants to get a sense of “where the party is going and especially the trajectory of the economy” before making “a definitive decision either way”. While, according to the aid, who agreed to speak on condition their name be kept confidential, Trump is “itching to get out before the public in a big way and refocus the GOP back to issues he cares about” he wants to “take his time with a decision on running again”. The aid also noted that “[H]e knows the crowd will be chanting ‘2024’ down in Florida and is really going to press him for that commitment to run, but he really wants to take his time and make the right decision for the country and for his family.”
Also speaking on background, a past senior Trump White House adviser who also talked to the former president recently explained that Trump wants to get “a sense of how he is perceived on the campaign trail in 2022 and how the GOP does in the midterms and if his performance helps or hurts candidates he endorses.” And until he gets a sense of where the GOP is going, “he is going to keep all of his options open, so don’t look for him to make some grand 2024 announcement on Sunday.” The former aid added that “[T]rump is not jumping into the race Sunday, that is for sure. Hinting at it, sure, that is possible, and I expect that. But nothing firm.”
As for specifics on the speech at CPAC, former Trump senior adviser Stephen Miller told Maria Bartiromo on Fox News recently that he also spoke to the president about his upcoming speech and some of the themes it will include. “You will hear him lay out his positive vision for the future of this country, a vision where we stand up to China, as the President was doing before he left office, and reclaim our manufacturing, a vision where our schools are open and our border is closed to illegal immigration, a vision where the Big Tech monopoly is dismantled and free speech and free expression and free thought can reign because that’s what this country is about,” explained Miller.
Many Republicans Already Making 2024 Moves
While Trump seems to be carefully weighing his options, others in the GOP who would clearly oppose his candidacy are moving ahead to shape the direction of the party, gather resources, or plot to potentially seek the 2024 nomination themselves.
According to a report in the Guardian, former South Carolina Governor and Trump UN Ambassador the United Nations Nikki Haley, who very publically broke with Trump in a recent profile in Politico, is holding a virtual fundraiser for her new super PAC Stand for America next month. Haley, according to the Guardian report, will back Liz Cheney, the only GOP House leader to vote for Trump’s impeachment for his role in the attack on the Capitol early last month.
Other more Trump-friendly candidates are also weighing their options. Florida Governor Don DeSantis, popular for his populist policies that mirror Trump, has been mentioned for several months as a possible candidate for the 2024 GOP nomination. Only in his early forties, a strong national profile, and clear messaging to blue-color voters, certainly appeals to conservative voters. And while DeSantis would still need to reelection in Florida in 2022, the rising GOP star is already working to ensure his finances and polling are ready to go.
Trump Is Still the GOP Kingmaker…Or Destroyer
Regardless of whether Trump decides to run or not, the former president’s hold on the Republican Party will remain for the foreseeable future. A recent poll shared exclusively with USAToday showed that 46% of those Republicans surveyed say they would abandon the GOP and join the Trump party if the former president decided to create one.
Harry J. Kazianis is a Senior Director at the Center for the National Interest and a Contributing Editor for 1945. In the past, he served as a foreign policy adviser to the 2016 presidential campaign of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, Editor-In-Chief of the Diplomat as well as holding various think tank posts at the Heritage Foundation, CSIS, the Potomac Foundation, and several others. His work and ideas have appeared in Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Washington Times, Newsweek, and in many other outlets across the political spectrum. You can follow him on Twitter: @Grecianformula.
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