Donald Trump has a clear problem on his hands that won’t be easy to fix if he wants to win in 2024: He needs a strong team around him if he is going to win. Can he get a loyal team who can take his message and make it into something that can win the American people over?
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Perhaps the only thing that Trumpers and anti-Trump activists can agree on is that former President Donald Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign announcement didn’t share the same “high energy” feel of his 2016 campaign announcement.
That’s to be expected, of course, given that the former president’s intentions were clear since the moment he left the White House in January 2021 – but the lack of fanfare around his announcement, combined with a series of major missteps suggest that the 2024 Trump team – even if staffed by some of the same people – is markedly different from his 2016 team.
And it’s certainly not for the better.
Why Did He Announce So Early?
Ahead of the 2022 midterms, in which the Republicans expected to take control of both the House and the Senate in a so-called “Red Wave,” the former president promised a major announcement.
It was clear that Trump planned to ride that Red Wave into a surge of support and excitement about the prospect of a new Trump administration – but the Gentle Red Breeze that the country really saw in November took the wind out of his sails somewhat.
Some have speculated that Trump’s decision to announce his 2024 run so early is part of an effort to protect himself from the January 6 committee’s efforts to indict and arrest him over nonsensical claims he encouraged violence on inauguration day.
It could be true – after all, the Democrats have pulled out all the stops to prevent Trump from running again and are willing to go as far as sending Biden’s politically-motivated Department of Justice after him.
It’s just as likely, however, that Trump’s early announcement was an effort to clear the field.
By announcing early, Trump got ahead of his potential 2024 rivals – at least in theory.
In reality, though, all we’ve seen so far is a series of missteps and mistakes that could have easily been prevented by talented or attentive advisers.
Donald Trump Needs New Advisers
Trump’s announcement speech should have been the event of the year for Republican voters awaiting a new Trump campaign, but the speech fell flat.
It didn’t gather the same TV airtime as his 2016 announcement, it excited his base but few else, and it seemed to go on forever.
The speech was reportedly written by Jason Miller, an adviser to the former president who worked on both his 2016 and 2020 campaigns.
For someone with such extensive experience working in the Trump campaign, it’s hard to believe that he got so much wrong.
The contents of the speech didn’t stray much from Trump’s usual talking points, weaving in and out of old grievances and repeating tired old lines that don’t have the same power they used to.
If a tired speech, described as “subdued” and “low energy,” wasn’t proof enough that Trump’s advisers don’t understand what’s required to win again in 2024, the fact that Trump accidentally let a notorious holocaust denier into his Mar-A-Lago property for dinner probably should be.
The Trump camp thinks that the old “Teflon Don” meme should be taken literally, when in reality, the Democrats have proven that they can beat Trump. Years of attacks, some of which were focused heavily on Trump’s real, human flaws, have painted this once moderate Republican as a far-right neo-Nazi insurrectionist.
And to an extent, it has worked.
If Trump’s team knew this, they would have done the bare minimum and checked the names of the guests that Ye (Kanye) West brought with him to dinner at Mar-a-Lago in November. They probably would have told Kanye to stay at home, too.
And if that wasn’t enough, there’s the NFT announcement that, despite raking in almost $5 million in a single day, revealed how easy it is for opportunistic tech-savvy entrepreneurs to take advantage of the former president via his team. Given Trump’s previous opposition to cryptocurrency, it seems safe to assume that the truly awful NFTs – complete with badly-cropped-out watermarks – were the product of a project proposed to the former president by an outside entity, with much of the proceeds presumably going to Trump and a slither to the team who haphazardly put together some of the worst Photoshop art the world has ever seen.
The fact that Trump and his team went ahead with the deal, even going as far as teasing it as a “major announcement” the day before on Truth Social, reflects extremely poor judgment.
Anything Trump said later that day, including a video policy announcement about freedom of speech online, was quickly forgotten, and the headlines focused on what looked like an embarrassing and desperate cash grab.
Given Trump’s huge war chest, it’s hard to believe that such a sad stunt was worth a few million bucks to the Trump campaign. This was simply a bad strategy.
Whoever is in charge of Team Trump is not just awful at their job, but they are also causing real harm to the Trump campaign at a time when the former president’s supposed invincibility is being seriously called into question by both Republicans and Democrats alike.
If Republicans want Donald Trump not just to win the Republican primary but the 2024 election as well, he’ll need a better team and speech writers, at the very least.
The former president would be wise to read the room, adapt to a new political environment, and depend less on the language and aggression that got him elected in 2016. After a COVID pandemic and lockdowns, heightened political divisions, and riots in hundreds of American cities, the country might just be looking for a reasonable, rational, and stable leader who can deliver results.
Donald Trump could be that leader, but right now, he’s not. And his advisers clearly aren’t helping.
Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive’s Breaking News Editor. He 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.