Donald Trump announced from Mar-a-Lago on Tuesday that he is running for president in 2024. “America’s comeback starts right now,” the former president said shortly after taking the stage — and exactly a week after several of his hand-picked, high-profile midterm candidates were trounced by their Democratic opponents.
Trump continued to portray the United States as an embarrassing wasteland rife with suffering under President Biden, throwing in a totally unfounded claim that China meddled in the 2020 election, before saying explicitly that he’s making another run at the White House. “I am tonight announcing my candidacy for president of the United States,” Trump said.
Trump filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission to run for president in 2024. The filing comes minutes before the former president is scheduled to formally announce his campaign to return to the White House.
Trump’s speech was noticeably low-energy, and featured several absurd delusions of reality, including that his handling of the Covid-19 “saved lived,” and that he also “saved” the economy during the pandemic. He made clear that if elected again he will do what he can to expedite the climate crisis, implying he’s going to clear the way to extract the “liquid gold under our feet.” He also painted a grim future for voting rights. “I will immediately demand voter ID, same-day voting, and only paper ballots,” he promised. Trump spent Monday railing on Truth Social about how nonexistent voter fraud is the reason many of his preferred candidates fared so poorly in the midterms.
The announcement comes days after Republicans — particularly election-denying Republicans elevated by Trump — drastically underperformed in the midterm elections. Trump has tried to claim on Truth Social that the results were a “success,” but in reality the GOP fared so poorly that the former president’s team reportedly advised him to delay his 2024 announcement. He did not, and the 2024 edition of the Trump Train now leaves the station as the party is undergoing a full-fledged identity crisis, mulling potential overhauls of its leadership, from the Republican National Committee to both chambers of Congress.
The overhaul could also extend to the figure who sits atop the party. It’s currently Trump, but Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has long been bandied about as a potential replacement, and has amassed a war chest of cash to support a 2024 run of his own. He might also wind up having the necessary political backing. There have been signs since last Tuesday that some Republicans are cooling on Trump, with even loyal backers like Sen. Lindsey Graham has declined to say whether they’ll support his next White House run. Meanwhile, right-wing media has been distancing itself to varying degrees, with the New York Post running covers lampooning Trump and praising DeSantis as “DeFuture.”
Trump has not taken kindly to the idea of a challenger. He called DeSantis “Ron DeSanctimonious” during a rally in Pennsylvania earlier this month, and has repeated the dig as he’s gone on the offensive against his former ally since the midterms. In a preview of what to expect should DeSantis enter the race, Trump also warned that he’s ready to reveal damaging information about his potential opponent, telling The Wall Street Journal last week that he knows “more about him than anybody other than perhaps his wife.”
DeSantis has mostly stayed quiet, but when pressed to respond on Tuesday said the results in Florida — where he and other Republicans romped, in contrast with the rest of the nation — speak for themselves. “I would just tell people to go check out the scoreboard from last Tuesday night,” he said. “It was the greatest Republican victory in the history of the state of Florida.”
Trump may be announcing at an inopportune time for the GOP, but it’s long been a foregone conclusion that he would mount another run at the White House. His team has been mulling when to make it official since the summer, but it’s been clear the garish red hat in the ring by the end of the year. Axios reported earlier this month that he was circling the week after the midterms, but it later became clear he was considering doing it on the eve of Election Day, with Rolling Stone reporting he’d told Sean Hannity of the plan to steal the spotlight. He didn’t, only announcing a “very big announcement” would be coming on Nov. 15.
Trump’s aggrieved conspiracy theorizing will now loom even larger over the American political discourse, as will what he could have in store for the nation should he reclaim the presidency. Reports of his plans have been terrifying. Axios has noted that he is aiming to reimpose his “Schedule F” executive order, which would essentially allow him to gut the government of tens of thousands of federal employees and restock it with MAGA loyalists. He’d likely move to clamp down on climate action, immigration, and anything resembling decency toward the marginalized, as well, while taking a more proactive approach to vanquishing his perceived enemies. Rolling Stone reported last week that earlier this year Trump asked advisers how he might be able to use the Justice Department to jail journalists.
Trump’s 2024 run also carries legal implications for Trump himself. He is currently at the center of multiple investigations, and could soon face criminal charges. Attorney General Merrick Garland has said Trump declaring his candidacy will not affect any of the Justice Department’s probes, but the announcement does add another layer of political consideration as the DOJ continues to investigate his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, as well as his flight to Florida with highly sensitive classified material. Trump is well aware of all of this. Rolling Stone reported in July that he’s been telling his team he needs to be president again to protect himself from legal consequences.