But of late, their thinking has evolved as Trump gets bombarded by the Jan. 6 committee and a growing number of Republicans view him as ripe for a challenge. The list of wannaruns is already long and growing, including Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, and Sen. Rick Scott of Florida.
Trump isn’t the only one who can feel his dominance slipping away, which is why many in Trump’s inner circle are now urging him to do what he’s wanted to do for months: announce.
“In my own mind, I’ve already made that decision,” Trump told New York Magazine’s Olivia Nuzzi, in a new interview. “I would say my big decision will be whether I go before or after,” Trump added, in what seemed to be an apparent reference to the midterms, though he didn’t explicitly say.
“I just think that there are certain assets to before,” he said. “Let people know. I think a lot of people would not even run if I did that because, if you look at the polls, they don’t even register. Most of these people. And I think that you would actually have a backlash against them if they ran. People want me to run.”
The downsides of announcing early for Trump mainly revolve around fundraising. He could no longer raise unlimited donations for his Save America PAC, and his ability to access those funds for campaign costs would be curtailed. But the urgency of trying to freeze the GOP field early might well outweigh any immediate fundraising considerations in Trump’s view. He’s not much of a wonky details guy anyway.
Plus, Trump can always fabricate excuses if he’s in the mix and Republicans fall short of expectations, but if he’s not in the mix and Republicans rock the cycle, he can’t take credit.
“When Republicans have these massive wins in the midterms, if President Trump has not yet announced for 2024, the haters and the establishment Republicans and their allies in the media will say they can win in 2024 without him, and that the party should go and find somebody else,” explained Jason Miller, a Trump spokesperson and adviser, who runs the Gettr social media network.
But regardless of how such an announcement would play for Trump’s 2024 bid, most Republican strategists have been dreading a pre-midterm launch by Trump. The grand hope of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, for instance, is that nothing gets in the way of focusing voters on inflation and President Joe Biden’s unpopularity—particularly not the radicalized MAGA movement. A Trump announcement in September would be McConnell’s worst nightmare.
“Senators as well as Senate candidates have told me recently that voters are ready to turn the page on Trump, and that he’s more of a head wind than a tail wind these days,” Dan Eberhart, a longtime Republican donor, told the Post.
But Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, always looking for the silver lining in Trump’s crap sandwich, had a different take.
“If Trump is going to run, the sooner he gets in and talks about winning the next election, the better,” said Graham. “It will refocus his attention — less grievance, more about the future.”
Ahhh … the pivot lives!
Some have also argued that Trump’s announcement would motivate his base in November—as if Trumpers aren’t already counting down the days until they can cast their grievance vote.
It seems less likely, however, that Trump’s early entrance would substantially alter the calculus of his own voters so much as it would prove clarifying for Democrats and swing voters. After all, Trump has singlehandedly galvanized a decisive coalition of anti-Trump voters to turn out in every election since 2016.
Plus, that anti-Trump effect has only been amplified by the Jan. 6 hearings. Think about it: We haven’t held federal elections since Trump’s failed coup attempt. The House select committee investigating Jan. 6 has brought Trump’s central role in that bloody insurrection into America’s living rooms just in time for the final stretch of the cycle.
“The Jan. 6 hearings have disturbed America. It is real we see movement in these numbers,” said John Anzalone, a Biden pollster. “If Donald Trump gets in before the midterms, every Republican congressman and candidate is going to have to answer these questions.”
In fact, Trump’s falling star is exactly why he’s considering an early presidential launch at a time when he’s destined to be an even bigger millstone around the necks of GOP candidates than he was before.
Verdict: Just do it!
Privacy as a foundational value in a post-Roe landscape on Daily Kos’ The Brief podcast