Could Trump’s prolonged hints at a third presidential campaign ultimately backfire? One Republican expert says that Trump would be sending signals of self-doubt and political vulnerability if he decided to announce his candidacy before this year’s midterms.
The Washington Examiner reports:
“If Trump thinks he needs to keep others from running against him by announcing first, then he must realize he’s losing influence in the party and will only encourage others to get into the race,” said a GOP strategist who advises one of several Republicans vying to supplant Trump atop the party and requested anonymity to protect clients from reprisal by the former president and his supporters.
Last week, during an interview with New York Magazine, Trump said that he’s made his decision and is now more concerned about when he wants to make an official announcement and whether it will come before or after the midterms.
Republican insiders among Trump’s inner circle say the former president’s seemingly fresh comments are stale. Privately, Trump has been discussing his entrance into the 2024 presidential contest as a fait accompli dating back to within months of him exiting the White House after being ousted by Joe Biden. Yet even Republicans close to Trump, those who want and encourage him to run, concede it’s hard to predict if he will declare.
“If Trump is alive, he’s running,” said one veteran Republican operative who speaks regularly with the former president.
“When he decides to go, he’ll clear most of the field and only have opponents who benefit from the national exposure of taking on the giant — and he will enjoy crushing them,” said Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union. That said, Schlapp added, “I’m mindful of, we need to focus on 2022, because if you don’t stop socialists in Congress, the great American comeback is in a more jeopardized position.”
However, legal experts also say that Trump’s recent New York Magazine could come back to haunt him in other ways. Democrats are likely to file an FEC complaint over Trump’s remarks to the publication saying he had made a decision to run.
“There’s a good argument that he’s no longer testing the waters and he’s a candidate,” the election law expert said. “If you say you are running, and figuring when to announce, then you’re a candidate. I think a Democratic or [liberal] campaign legal center may file an FEC complaint against him.”