Former President Donald Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign is more professional and disciplined than his 2016 or 2020 campaigns. Trump’s 2016 campaign ran on a shoestring, and staffers didn’t know they would win.
The History and the Change
Once the reality set in that the Trump campaign would have to become the Trump administration, insiders say they were forced to find people who had been part of prior Republican administrations. This put people who didn’t necessarily share Trump’s vision in places of authority, which gave rise to four years of chaos and infighting.
This time, the Trump campaign plans to deliver a more professional campaign. Axios reports that Trump will still get to be Trump, but this time things are more organized.
It has hired experienced veterans to help it with the get-out-the-vote effort in primary states. It has devoted considerable resources to researching Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and his vulnerabilities. The campaign plans to target DeSantis’ record as an assistant U.S. attorney, portraying him as an “extremely lenient” prosecutor in cases that dealt with pornography, among other things.
The former president attacked DeSantis on this TruthSocial account Monday, accusing him of partying with underage girls while he taught at a Georgia school.
The Trump camp hopes to polarize and discredit DeSantis in the weeks and months leading up to his widely expected run.
“In 2016, his campaign was basically his family and a handful of operatives who wouldn’t have gotten hired by any of the other campaigns. In 2020, it was an extension of the White House, which itself was a disordered mess,” Alex Conant, a Republican strategist who previously worked on Marco Rubio’s 2016 campaign, told Axios. “This time around, he’s hired some real professionals and understands that the only way he wins the nomination for a third time is by running a very disciplined campaign that can’t afford to lose anywhere.”
Trump Goes Pro?
Trump’s team hired Susie Wiles, a longtime Republican operative who helped DeSantis win the governor’s mansion in Tallahassee in 2018. Giving Trump a leg up on DeSantis and other competitors in the early primaries and caucuses has become the campaign’s priority.
The campaign hopes to make inroads before Trump’s competition can get their campaign organizations together.
As in the past, the Trump campaign plans to take advantage of the former president’s talent as a retail campaigner to get him out in front of persuadable voters. The former president’s legal issues likely will become an issue in the primary, and not everyone who supported Trump in the past two campaign cycles is with him this time. Some, such as Ken Cuccinelli, the former Virginia Attorney General and top immigration official in the Trump administration, have decided to throw their support behind DeSantis.
Cuccinelli announced he was starting a pro-DeSantis political action committee called “Never Back Down PAC” to encourage DeSantis to join the race.
“As you might expect, Republicans across the country have their own idea about who Gov. DeSantis is. But no one knows everything. I don’t know everything. But I can provide them a lot more details and a lot more information on his positions, on his life story, on how he’s functioned so successfully as the governor of Florida, where I believe he’s been the best chief executive we’ve at the governor or presidential level in decades,” Cuccinelli said. “And that’s really his calling card. People are very impressed with how well he’s done. And so we’re trying to give people an organizational focus early in the race.”
MORE: Liz Cheney Looks Lost
Trump’s goal is to keep DeSantis from getting any traction and from scoring other defections from Trump’s camp, because DeSantis is the only candidate who poses any major threat to his renomination in 2024.