Former president Donald Trump is trying to kick his third White House campaign into gear this weekend after an idle two months. Trump is vying for the 2024 Republican nomination.
It has now been more than two months after he announced his intention to run, making him the first – and currently only – Republican to throw their name into the race.
This weekend he will hold a pair of campaign stops in key early-voting states.
The appearances in New Hampshire and South Carolina are an opportunity to address complaints from his fellow Republicans that his intended rematch with Democratic President Joe Biden has gotten off to a slow start.
But the events may also illustrate that Trump has a weakening grip on the party.
Some well-known Republicans are steering clear of the events. This includes two with possible White House ambitions of their own, former Governor Nikki Haley and U.S. Senator Tim Scott.
Experts say that these may be signs that some key Republican donors and activists are looking for other options for the Republican 2024 ticket.
People with big roles in previous Trump campaigns said they do not hear any state elected officials or big donors being too excited about Trump. Rather, they’re excited about Haley, or Florida governor Ron DeSantis.
That being said, Trump currently carries some powerful advantages into his campaign. Polls regularly show him as a leading choice among Republican voters. And his four turbulent years in the White House give him a tremendous advantage in name recognition.
But it is currently a year out from the start of party nominating contests. So a lot can change soon.
Trump’s official campaign, which he launched on Nov. 15, has of course dismissed the idea that his support within the party was weakening.
Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung said: “President Trump is the undeniable leader of the Republican Party and anyone who questions that is simply living in a false reality.”
Multiple Republicans said they would be watching this weekend’s events to see whether Trump can deliver a forward-looking message, or will resort to personal attacks or false claims of election fraud that many blame for a poor Republican showing in the November midterm congressional elections.
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