Trump is preparing for the 2024 presidential candidacy

According to people close to him, Trump is eager to get back in the political game despite several ongoing criminal investigations against him.

NEW YORK – As he played to a crowd of fans in Robstown, Texas, former President Donald Trump drew cheers as he discussed his first two runs for the White House – and teased a third.

“To make our country prosperous, safe and glorious again, I’ll probably have to do it all over again,” he said last month.

The carefully placed “probably” may soon be gone from Trump’s stump speech. Aides to the former president are quietly making preparations for a 2024 presidential campaign that could be launched soon thereafter midterm elections next week while Trump seeks to capitalize on expected Republican victories to position himself as the front-runner for his party’s nomination.

“I’m 95 percent confident he’s going to run,” said Reince Priebus, Trump’s former White House chief of staff. “The real question,” he added, “is will there be other big challengers coming up? If President Trump runs, it will be very difficult for any Republican to defeat him.”

Another campaign would be a notable turn of events for any former president, let alone one who is the first to be indicted twice and embroiled in multiple and escalating criminal investigations, let alone Classified information kept at his Mar-a-Lago club and his effort Pressure election officials to overturn 2020 election results. Trump has a history dating back to the 1980s of publicly toying with offers from the White House only to back down.

But Trump is eager to get back in the political game, according to people close to him. While he was already talking about an offer before he left the White House, aides and allies are now looking at the two-week stretch after the Nov. 8 midterms as a possible window for an announcement, although they warn he hasn’t made a decision and that — as always with Trump — things could change, particularly if the election results are delayed due to recounts or a possible runoff in Georgia.

While discussions are ongoing about possible locations and dates for a formal announcement, Trump continues to tease the possibility of declaring his intentions at one of the rallies he plans for the home stretch of the election.

The preparations come as Trump has ramped up his efforts to help midterm candidates in the final weeks of the election, hoping to piggyback expected Republican gains in Congress to fuel his own campaign.

Trump has increased his spending dramatically after facing criticism for failing to help his preferred candidates financially while continuing to raise small donations. Its newly launched MAGA Inc. Super PAC has now spent more than $16.4 million on ads in a handful of competitive states, according to ad-tracking firm AdImpact, with additional investment expected by Election Day, according to people familiar with the effort. spoke like others on condition of anonymity to discuss internal operations.

And Trump continues to host events to empower his candidates, with 30 rallies in 17 states to date, along with dozens of virtual rallies and more than 50 fundraisers for candidates. His final halftime rally blitz will take him to Ohio and Pennsylvania, two key presidential states where his endorsement has helped candidates secure their nominations. He will also return to Iowa, where the first contest in the presidential calendar is being held.

Overall, Trump’s Save America PAC says he’s raised nearly $350 million for Republican candidates and party committees this election cycle, including online fundraisers.

While Trump’s team has identified potential hiring prospects in key states and prepared documentation for filing should he go ahead with an announcement, according to people familiar with the planning, they stressed that hiring has not yet begun. Trump’s campaign, at least for the first few months, is expected to remain Florida-based and similar to his current political operation, which will be overseen by the small group of advisers he has fostered since leaving office — a reminder to his notoriously flimsy 2016 campaign.

Chris LaCivita, the Republican strategist behind the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign that severely damaged Democrat John Kerry’s presidential prospects in 2004, works for Trump’s super PAC and says he expects a senior leadership role in the operation of the campaign to take on people familiar with the talks, such as Susie Wiles, the longtime Florida agent who has overseen his political efforts.

The 2024 campaign will effectively begin when polls close on November 8, and potential challengers have spent months carefully laying the groundwork for their own expected campaigns. That includes Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is widely regarded as Trump’s most formidable challenger and who built a deep donor network upon his re-election.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Florida Senator Rick Scott and Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton have aggressively searched for midterm candidates, as have former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley.

Trump, meanwhile, faces growing challenges. He remains a deeply polarizing figure, especially after spending the last two years spreading lies about the 2020 election. And while Trump remains overwhelmingly popular with Republicans, an October AP-NORC poll found that 43% said they didn’t want him running for president in 2024.

To underscore this polarization, many around Trump had urged him to wait until after the midterms to make an announcement to avoid the election becoming a referendum on him.

Others close to Trump remain skeptical that he will ultimately pull off another run, claim his ego cannot take another loss, or fear possible indictment. Others doubt he’ll end up on the ballots in 2024, even if he campaigns.

Campaigns also need staff, and Trump’s orbit has shrunk significantly over the past two years. Many former aides are expected to steer clear of further efforts, either because they have broken with Trump, moved on, or fear involvement could expose them to potential legal scrutiny — and attorney bills.

For someone poised to launch a presidential campaign, Trump also remains unusually distracted by legal threats.

There’s that of the Department of Justice Intensification of investigations how hundreds of documents with secret markings ended up at his club in Palm Beach, Florida. Prosecutors in Georgia keep probing its efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, as does the DOJ and the House Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol recently served him a subpoena challenging testimonials.

In New York, Attorney General Letitia has sued James Trump, claiming his eponymous company was involved in decades of fraudulent accounting. The Trump Organization is now on trial for criminal tax evasion, and Trump recently sat for a dismissal in a lawsuit filed by E. Jean Carroll alleging Trump raped her in the mid-1990s. Trump denies the allegations.

Meanwhile, Republicans across the country, from big-dollar donors to longtime GOP leaders and ordinary voters, have been considering staying with Trump.

At a recent Republican Party fundraiser in Iowa, led by Pence, voters praised Trump’s tenure but were divided on whether they wanted him to start another campaign.

“I’d love to see him run again,” said 81-year-old Jane Murphy, a longtime Republican volunteer who lives in Davenport. “He pisses me off with some of the things he says. But it gets the job done, plain and simple.”

But Carol Crain, a GOP activist from eastern Iowa, expressed reservations.

“I think a lot of Republicans are just sick of the drama and the fighting,” said Crain, 73. “It’s really exhausting. Under their breath, people say it would be nice if he could support someone and walk with grace.

Associated Press writers Scott Bauer of Madison, Wisconsin and Thomas Beaumont of Wilton, Iowa contributed to this report. Trump is preparing for the 2024 presidential candidacy

Laura Coffey

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