Trump files White House candidacy papers

PALM BEACH: Donald Trump pulled the trigger on a third White House run on Tuesday, setting the stage for a bruising Republican nomination battle after a poor midterm election showing by his hand-picked candidates weakened his grip on the party.
“America’s comeback starts right now,” the 76-year-old former president told hundreds of supporters gathered in an ornate American flag-draped ballroom at his palatial Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida.
Bradley Crate, who has previously worked for Trump political organizations, filed paperwork with the US Federal Election Commission setting up a committee called “Donald J Trump for President 2024.”
The unusually early launch may well be aimed at fending off potential challengers for the party’s nomination in 2024, including rising star Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, 44, and Trump’s own former vice president, Mike Pence, 63.
Republicans are licking their wounds after disappointing midterms, widely blamed on the underperformance of Trump-anointed candidates, and some are openly asking whether Trump — with his divisive brand of politics and mess of legal woes — is the right person to carry the party colors next time around.
Dismal show by Trump loyalists
Despite the dismal election showing by Trump loyalists, the real estate tycoon retains an undeniable popularity with the millions of grassroots supporters who have flocked to his “Make America Great Again” banner.
And despite being abandoned by several top Republican donors, he has amassed a campaign war chest of well over $100 million.
Leading up to the midterms vote, Trump made denial of the 2020 election results a key litmus test for candidates seeking his endorsement.
But a string of defeats by Trump’s most loyal allies sapped his momentum heading into Tuesday’s launch.
“This is certainly not the rollout I’m sure Donald Trump wanted for his announcement tonight,” said outgoing congresswoman Liz Cheney, a fierce Republican critic of Trump.
Having failed to wrest control of the Senate, Republicans are inching towards a likely takeover of the House, but with a razor-thin majority that will be difficult to keep in line.
Legal troubles
Trump is seeking his party’s nomination even as he faces trouble on several fronts, including a criminal investigation into the removal of classified documents from the White House as well as a congressional subpoena related to his role in the January 6, 2021, US Capitol attack by his supporters. Trump has called the various investigations he faces politically motivated and denies wrongdoing.
One of his former top executives, Allen Weisselberg, testified on Tuesday as a witness for the prosecution in a tax-fraud trial targeting Trump’s namesake company.
The businessman-turned-politician, who has sought to maintain an iron grip on the Republican Party since leaving office, has persisted in making false claims that the 2020 election he lost to Biden was stolen through widespread voting fraud.
Trump is seeking to become only the second US president in history to serve non-consecutive terms, after Grover Cleveland, whose second stint ended in 1897. Biden, 79, has said he intends to run for re-election to a second four-year term in office, though he has yet to make a final decision.
During his turbulent 2017-2021 presidency, Trump defied democratic norms and promoted “America First” nationalism while presenting himself as a right-wing populist. He became the first US president to be impeached twice, though congressional Democrats failed in their attempts to remove him from office.
At a rally that preceded the Capitol attack, Trump urged supporters to “fight like hell” and march on Congress to “stop the steal,” but the mob that subsequently stormed the Capitol failed to prevent Congress from formally certifying Biden’s election victory.
Four people died on the day in the violence, one shot dead by police and the other three of natural causes. A Capitol Police officer who had been attacked by protesters died the following day. Two police officers who took part in the defense of the Capitol later took their own lives. More than a hundred police officers were injured.
Even though court and state election officials rejected Trump’s false election claims, about two-thirds of Republican voters believe Biden’s victory was illegitimate, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling.

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