Former President Donald Trump, aiming to become only the second commander-in-chief ever elected to two nonconsecutive terms, announced Tuesday night that he will seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.
“In order to make America great and glorious again, I am tonight announcing my candidacy for president of the United States,” Trump told a crowd gathered at Mar-a-Lago, his waterfront estate in Florida, where his campaign will be headquartered.
Surrounded by allies, advisers, and conservative influencers, Trump delivered a relatively subdued speech, rife with spurious and exaggerated claims about his four years in office.
To evoke nostalgia for his time in office among Republicans who have shown signs of Trump fatigue following the midterms, he frequently contrasted his first-term accomplishments with the Biden administration’s policies and the current economic climate. Many of those perceived accomplishments – from strict immigration actions to corporate tax cuts and religious freedom initiatives – remain deeply polarizing to this day.
As Trump spoke to a roomful of Republicans who expect him to face primary challengers in the coming months, he also claimed the party cannot afford to nominate “a politician or conventional candidate” if it wants to win back the White House.
“This will not be my campaign, this will be our campaign altogether,” Trump said.
Trump’s long-awaited campaign comes as he tries to reclaim the spotlight following the GOP’s underwhelming midterm elections performance – including the losses of several Trump-endorsed election deniers – and the subsequent blame game that has unfolded since Election Day.
Republicans failed to gain a Senate majority, came up short in their efforts to fill several statewide seats, and have yet to secure a House majority, with only 215 races called in their favour so far out of the 218 needed, developments that have forced Trump and other party leaders into a defensive posture as they face reproval from within their ranks.
Trump’s paperwork establishing his candidacy landed with the Federal Election Committee shortly before he delivered his announcement at Mar-a-Lago.
To the delight of aides and allies who have long advised him to mount a forward-looking campaign, he spent only a fraction of his remarks repeating his lies about the 2020 election.
Though he decried the use of paper ballots and likened America’s election system to that of “third world countries,” Trump also tried at times to broaden his grievances – lamenting the “massive corruption” and “entrenched interests” that in his view have consumed Washington.
Many of Trump’s top advisers have expressed concern that his fixation on promoting conspiracies about the last presidential election would make it harder for him to win a national election in 2024.
Throughout the hour-long speech, Trump made clear that he wants his campaign to be seen by Republicans as a sacrificial undertaking.
“Anyone who truly seeks to take on this rigged and corrupt system will be faced with a storm of fire that only a few could understand,” he said at one point, describing the legal and emotional toll his presidency and the post-presidential period has taken on his family members.”
On the heels of last week’s midterm elections, Trump has been blamed for elevating flawed candidates who spent too much time parroting his claims about election fraud, alienating key voters and ultimately leading to their defeats.
He attempted to counter that criticism on Tuesday, noting that Republicans appear poised to retake the House majority and touting at least one Trump-endorsed candidate, Kevin Kiley of California.
At one point, Trump appeared to blame his party’s midterm performance on voters not yet realizing “the total effect of the suffering” after two years of Democratic control in Washington.
“I have no doubt that by 2024, it will sadly be much worse and they will see clearly what has happened and is happening to our country – and the voting will be much different,” he claimed.