While it has seemed inevitable for months, Donald Trump has now formally announced that he will run for president in 2024.
His announcement, delivered last night from the ballroom of his Mar-a-Lago resort, was a far cry from his infamous Rhiefenstahl-esque descent down the golden escalator at Trump Tower that kicked off his 2016 campaign.
Much has occurred since those halcyon days of 2016. Trump was impeached, twice. He lost the 2020 election to Joe Biden by more than 7 million votes, and then sought numerous illegal means to overturn the results of that election. Having failed to accomplish his goal by other means, he incited a deadly attack on Congress seeking to derail the certification of the election. All of this was exhaustively documented and presented to the public over the past year through the efforts of the January 6 Committee.
In August, Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property was raided by the FBI and he now faces criminal liability for improper removal and mistreatment of highly classified government documents. Trump and his primary business, the Trump Organization, have been sued for financial fraud by the New York State Attorney General. In Georgia, a grand jury has been convened to investigate Trump’s actions in the aftermath of the 2020 election and the allegations that he tried to pressure Georgia election officials to come up with enough votes to overturn his loss to Biden.
Despite compelling evidence that Trump knew full well in November 2020 that he had legitimately lost the election, he continues to publicly insist that the election was stolen from him. He has enlisted a horde of acolytes nationwide who have repeated and amplified these claims. Trump supported many of these acolytes in their campaigns for public office in a variety of state and national races in the recent midterm elections. However, when the much-predicted “red wave” never materialized, many of the candidates endorsed by Trump ultimately lost to democrats, including such high-profile candidates as “Dr. Oz” Mehmet in the Pennsylvania senate race, TV anchor Kari Lake in the Arizona gubernatorial race, and Don Bolduc in the New Hampshire senate race.
To add insult to injury, Trump’s newly-minted nemesis, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, won a commanding reelection victory, receiving widespread adulation from Republicans and driving a rise in polling numbers that have, in some instances, surpassed Trump’s. Trump fatigue appears to have set in even among members of Trump’s own party. He has increasingly been losing support from formerly stalwart supporters, including major donors and high-profile figures like Rupert Murdoch. It is now very possible that Trump could have real competition for the Republican presidential nomination.
It was against this backdrop that Donald Trump delivered his announcement on Tuesday evening as part of a meandering hour-long speech in which he declared “America’s golden age is just ahead,” took credit for a Republican victory in the House which has not been called yet and which fell far short of expectations, invoked the “blood-soaked” streets of American cities and an “invasion” at the southern border, endorsed the death penalty for drug dealers, promised to protect “parental rights” and to ban transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports, mocked former German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s accent and accused President Biden of falling asleep at international conferences.
In short, it was a retread of numerous speeches that Trump has given over the past six years. MSNBC did not air the speech and CNN cut away after twenty minutes. Indeed, even Fox News apparently had enough around forty minutes in and cut away from the speech temporarily.
Despite the seemingly uninspiring nature of Trump’s announcement, there are not yet any other declared candidates for the Republican nomination, and Trump still commands substantial support from the Republican base. There is a significant chance that he will be become the Republican nominee, regardless of who else gets into the race. However, if Ron DeSantis declares as a candidate, there is likely to be a knock down, drag-out fight for the Republican nomination, with a highly uncertain outcome.