Trump's Failure to Launch Gives Way for Other 2024 Hopefuls
Do they have a chance to de-throne him?
It has been a very bad few weeks for former President Donald Trump. His candidates in key swing states lost for the most part, and those who didn't still ended up with far fewer Republican votes than non-Trump candidates. He announced the start of his 2024 presidential campaign and has done nothing significant since then.
Then, this week, his family business was found guilty of criminal tax fraud and the January 6 Committee has made it clear criminal referrals are coming.
The failure of the campaign to meaningfully launch has been noted.
Donald Trump launched his candidacy three weeks ago, but you’d barely know it from watching his campaign. There’s been little sign of activity as the candidate heads off nonstop scandals and Trump veterans say they’re unsure who, if anyone, is in charge.
“Where are the events? Where are the rallies? Where’s the staff?” one former Trump campaign official said. “I don't know. I don't understand the plan there. I don't think there is a plan.”
Trump has primarily communicated through Truth Social since his launch, with video appearances at a Republican Jewish Coalition conference (before his Ye dinner became public) and an event advocating for supporters imprisoned for attacking the Capitol on January 6th.
This is all not good news for Trump, who really needs some wins as more and more data comes out showing a willingness in voters to move on from him in 2024.
As my colleague Mike Miller pointed out this morning, among conservative and Republican voters, it is indeed time for more honest questions regarding the future of Trumpism in the Republican Party. But, it's also time for 2024 hopefuls to begin laying the final groundwork for a 2024 bid themselves, and we're starting to see those machinations come into the spotlight.
Ron DeSantis, who has repeatedly been attacked by Trump and Trump's loudest supporters on Twitter, won a dominating re-election bid in Florida, and decidedly without Trump's help. He was able to grow his own base at a time when it appears that Trump's is shrinking. And while we've all expected DeSantis was eyeing the presidency, he has never really openly discussed it.
However, that may be changing.
Ron DeSantis, the Republican governor of Florida whose resounding reelection victory last month established him as a possible contender for his party’s 2024 presidential nomination, is huddling with some of his top donors this month as he charts his plans for the future.
Invitations went out this week for an “intimate dinner” on Sunday in Miami with DeSantis and his wife, said two people familiar with the details who spoke on the condition of anonymity to preview a private event. The invitations were addressed to the governor’s “strongest supporters.” One person said additional gatherings may take place in other parts of the state.
A DeSantis campaign spokeswoman declined to comment.
Of course, this isn't a guarantee that he's lining up his donors ahead of a more public bid for the nomination, but it is a sign that the political season is not over for DeSantis. However, the 2024 election cycle comes at a strange time for the recently re-elected governor.
He just won a second four-year term. He is incredibly popular in his state, given the margin of victory. There is a lot that he's done in the state that plays well on a national level, but he's always focused on serving his state first. Running for president does present an issue in that he will have to take his focus away from Florida in order to focus on campaigning, fundraising, etc.
The other issue for DeSantis and the other 2024 hopefuls is that Trump is certainly not going to go away. That presents the GOP's biggest challenge in the 2024 primary - how do you beat Trump without beating away his most loyal followers? If the data we've been seeing lately is to be believed, DeSantis may have the best shot of keeping them in the Republican Party, but it won't be without bloodshed.
Between the NeverTrump and the EverTrump voters, there will have to be a compromise. But what that will look like is still anyone's guess.