During a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) hosted in Texas on Saturday, former President Donald Trump laid out several priorities for Republicans, should they win back control of the House and Senate in November’s midterm elections.
The former president stressed that the midterms were a “national referendum” on the performance of President Joe Biden, as well as the Democrats who presently control both chambers of Congress. He insisted that Republicans must deal a “crippling” defeat to the Democrats and take back control of Congress.
His comments come amid rumors that he is preparing to launch a presidential campaign either before or soon after the November midterms, giving him a head-start against other likely Republican presidential primary contenders.
Donald Trump’s Plan for GOP Candidates
In his speech, the former president outlined a series of recommendations for Republican candidates – not just for how they should campaign, but for how they should legislate if they ultimately win their races in November.
Among those pieces of advice was a recommendation that candidates campaign on holding the Biden administration accountable, and putting pressure on the White House to do right by the American people. That would mean, according to the former president, campaigning for the White House to shut down the southern border and stop the influx of millions of illegal aliens over the border, bringing inflation back under control, and reducing crime across the country.
The former president also touted his many endorsement victories and offered advice to the candidates who won their primary races after receiving his endorsement. Trump said that he knows the vast majority of Republican candidates this time around are “not going to play around,” indicating that the former president feels confident that more Republican legislators in the House and Senate would be supportive of his Make America Great Again agenda.
Perhaps the most radical of the president’s recommendations, however, was his suggestion that drug dealers should receive the death penalty. It’s not just a passing comment, either. The former president has made the same recommendation at least twice before, most recently in a speech in Washington, D.C. Pushing for a “quick” death sentence for drug dealers, Trump acknowledged that the idea does “sound horrible,” but that it could save lives.
“If you look at countries throughout the world, the only ones that don’t have a drug problem are those that institute the death penalty for drug dealers,” Trump said in his CPAC speech this weekend.
Should Trump enter the White House again in two years, it looks as though this could be a real policy platform – and perhaps a statement policy to replace his famous border wall pledge.
Opponents have labeled the president’s speech “frightening,” while others saw it as a beacon of hope amid rising crime, rising inflation, and rising illegal immigration.
Trump also stressed the importance of Republican candidates for the House and Senate pledging not to give the federal government any money to maintain open borders.
A New Presidential Run for Donald Trump?
Not only did the former president effectively instruct the Republican Party on how to approach the midterms and how to legislate after it, but he also added fuel to the rumors that he is preparing for another presidential campaign.
Hinting at another run, Trump said, “we may have to do it again.”
“If I stayed home, the persecution of Donald Trump would stop immediately, but I can’t do that because I love my country and I love the people,” Trump said.
While technically, he may have been referring to his political activism, commentary, and rallies in the wake of Joe Biden’s inauguration, it’s much more likely that the former president is talking about a fresh presidential run. Trump all but confirmed it when he said that America’s comeback “begins this November.”
“And it will continue upward with the unstoppable momentum that we are going to develop in November 2024,” he said.
The decision the former president needs to make now is whether or not to announce his candidacy before the midterms or after. Should Trump make his announcement before the midterms, it would open him up to greater criticism from Republicans in the primary debates. If Trump makes it clear he is running again in 2024, voters will likely expect him to be the candidate – given that polls repeatedly show him with a clear lead over any other hypothetical challenger – and could cast their vote accordingly. Independent voters angry with the Democrats but not fully on board with the Trump campaign may think twice about casting a vote for a Republican in November.
Trump would also lose financial support from the Republican National Committee. After paying out roughly $2 million in fees to law firms representing the former president in multiple lawsuits, an RNC official revealed last month that the party’s neutrality policy would mean that financial support would end if Trump announced his candidacy too early.
On the other hand, should the Republicans win back the House and Congress in November, an already-announced Trump 2024 campaign would give him legitimacy, bragging rights, and momentum.
Whatever Trump chooses, at this stage it’s clear that he’s preparing for a third presidential campaign.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.