Donald Trump is set to launch a fresh White House bid on Tuesday, hoping to box out potential Republican rivals and return his false claims of election fraud to the center of US politics.
Trump’s announcement, scheduled for 9 pm ET (0200 GMT on Wednesday) at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, follows a disappointing showing in last week’s midterm congressional elections that many Republicans blame on him.
The unusually early launch may well be aimed at fending off potential challengers for the party’s nomination in 2024, including rising star Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, 44, and Trump’s own former vice president, Mike Pence, 63.
Sources close to Trump, 76, said he planned to push ahead despite mixed results from his endorsements this year, with losses by celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania and Don Bolduc in New Hampshire contributing to Republicans’ failure to win a majority in the US Senate.
Another Trump-picked candidate, former football star Herschel Walker, was forced into a 6 December runoff in his Georgia race against Democratic US Senator Raphael Warnock. That has raised some concerns that Trump’s announcement could again hurt the party’s chances in a Georgia runoff, similar to the January 2021 runoff that gave Democrats their current majority.
Multiple Trump-aligned candidates who ran on platforms focused on his false claims of widespread election fraud were also defeated.
While control of the House of Representatives is still undecided, the “red wave” that Republicans expected to carry them to a wide majority did not materialize despite Democratic President Joe Biden’s low public-approval ratings. Voter anger over a Supreme Court decision to end national abortion rights offset concerns over high inflation.
“This should have been a huge red wave … and yet we still didn’t perform,” said Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, a moderate Republican who has toyed with the idea of launching his own White House run.
“It’s the third election in a row that Donald Trump has cost us the race … I’m tired of losing,” he told CNN on Sunday.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll taken before the election showed that 53 per cent of Americans and almost one in four Republicans view Trump unfavorably. The poll showed a similar number of Americans viewing Biden unfavorably.
Trump plans to launch his campaign nearly two years before the 5 November, 2024, election despite these concerns, said two sources familiar with his plans.
“President Donald J Trump and his team are firing on all cylinders and fully focused on saving our country,” said one source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
DeSantis, who Trump has given the derisive nickname “Ron DeSanctimonious,” handily won re-election during the midterms. Pence is releasing a book on Tuesday detailing Trump’s unsuccessful pressure campaign to overturn his 2020 defeat.