by Jacob Fischler, Georgia Recorder [This article first appeared in the Georgia Recorder, republished with permission]
November 15, 2022
Former President Donald Trump, who lies about how his reaction to a reelection loss in 2020 precipitated an insurrectionist attack on the U.S. Capitol, said Tuesday he will make another run for the White House in 2024.
His announcement came only a week after a disappointing showing by Republicans — especially those who endorsed his false claims about 2020 — in the midterm elections.
In a speech from his Florida resort, Trump framed the two years since President Joe Biden defeated him as beset by a series of disasters related to the economy, energy, immigration and foreign policy.
“Under our leadership, we were a great and glorious nation,” he said. “Now we are a nation in decline. We are a failing nation.”
Appearing to vacillate between written remarks and extensive ad-libs, Trump did not revive his false claims about the 2020 election, instead criticizing Biden’s performance and raising general complaints about national Democrats and powerful political forces.
“In order to make America great and glorious again, I am tonight announcing my candidacy for president of the United States,” he said.
He filed paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission just before taking the stage Tuesday night to declare his candidacy.
Trump cast doubts in his remarks about the country’s election systems, raising objections to how long it has taken to count ballots in the Nov. 8 election and calling for paper ballots to be used exclusively as a supposed deterrent to fraud.
There is no evidence to support Trump’s claims about any widespread fraud in the 2020 election, though there is evidence — compiled and reported over a series of hearings by the U.S. House Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol — that Trump knew his claims were false and still led a multipart effort to overturn the election.
Those efforts culminated with the Jan. 6 attack.
While he didn’t re-litigate his 2020 claims, his remarks did not back away from them either.
And C-SPAN cameras appeared to catch a clue that he was not eager to dispense with the personnel who led him to Jan. 6, as they showed Roger Stone in the audience. Stone is a political consultant who was convicted of obstructing Congress in the first of two impeachments of Trump, encouraged Trump to fight the 2020 election results and was involved in Jan. 6 planning.
Trump is suing to defy a subpoena from the committee, which has sought his testimony as its members have depicted the former president as the central figure in the insurrection.
He is also under investigation for a bevy of other possible infractions. The U.S. Justice Department is conducting its own Jan. 6 investigation and is also exploring classified documents taken from the White House to his Florida estate. He is also facing state investigations related to the 2020 election in Georgia and for his business practices in New York.
Republicans in Georgia and beyond wanted Trump to delay his expected campaign announcement until after Georgia’s Senate runoff between Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and GOP nominee Herschel Walker is decided Dec. 6.
“I think there’s a lot of Republicans who are concerned about the Trump effect on this election,” said Jason Shepherd, a political science professor at Kennesaw State University and former chair of the Cobb County GOP.
“I’ve heard that there have been people in leadership of the state party who have requested the RNC try to keep them from coming to Georgia and doing a rally. But the problem is, Donald Trump is Donald Trump. And he’ll do whatever he wants to do, regardless of what party leadership or maybe necessarily what the candidate wants. Because on the flip side, if you don’t go along with him, he starts attacking you. Just ask Ron “DeSanctimonious” or Glenn “Young Kin.”
But Trump again endorsed his old friend Walker during his hour-long announcement speech even though Democrats retained control of the U.S. Senate last week.
“Despite the outcome in the Senate, we cannot lose hope,” Trump said. “And we must all work very hard for a gentleman and a great person named Herschel Walker, a fabulous human being who loves our country, and will be a great United States senator, Herschel Walker … he deserves it. He was an incredible athlete, he’ll be an even better Senator get out and vote for Herschel Walker.
But until this month, the political travails had not diminished Trump’s influence with GOP office-seekers, many of whom tried to tie themselves to the former president in their own campaigns.
Last week, many of the candidates who echo Trump’s claims of a stolen election lost theirs, as Democrats held the U.S. Senate, will likely only narrowly lose the U.S. House and won several governors’ offices, secretary of state races and other state offices.
Some Republicans have called for moving on from Trump and have looked to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis as a potential alternative for the 2024 nomination.
A poll distributed by the conservative Club for Growth on Monday showed Trump trailing DeSantis by double digits in first-in-the-nation nominating contests in Iowa and New Hampshire as well as in Florida and Georgia, Politico reported.
Yet, Trump is still seen as the frontrunner to win the GOP nomination, as campaigning for state caucuses and primaries begins to ramp up in 2023. Biden has said he plans to seek reelection.
‘We are coming to take those corridors back’
In his speech Tuesday, Trump cast himself as a populist hero fighting against a corrupt and entrenched establishment, sometimes in language that evoked the violent attempt to capture the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, in which rioters encouraged by Trump freely roamed through the Capitol halls.
“I am your voice,” he said. “The Washington establishment wants to silence us but we will not let them do that.
“This is our country, our government and the corridors of power — they’re our corridors, they’re not their corridors, these are our corridors — and we are coming to take those corridors back,” he said.
Trump repeatedly described himself as not a politician but the leader of a “movement,” saying he “hated” thinking of himself as a politician.
Grievances, both personal to him and on behalf of his supporters, took up the bulk of Trump’s speech, alongside general criticism of Biden.
Trump said Biden had been ineffectual, among other criticisms.
Earlier Tuesday evening, the White House tweeted a list of Biden’s accomplishments during his presidency, including allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, lowering the federal deficit and taking aggressive climate action. “President Biden has gotten a lot done,” it said.
Trump said he and his supporters were the true defenders of America from Biden and Democratic “radicals” and adversaries abroad. His supporters would be “persecuted” by a “woke” political and cultural establishment over the course of a campaign, he predicted.
“We need every patriot on board,” he said near the close of the announcement. “Because this is not just a campaign. This is a quest to save our country.”
To the extent he discussed policy, he attacked Biden on energy and the environment, blaming his successor for high gas prices because of supposed fealty to the Green New Deal, a legislative proposal that Biden has neither established nor even endorsed.
Trump downplayed the threat of climate change and said he would return to the “energy dominance” agenda he pursued as president.
He pledged to bar trans women from participating in women’s sports and to remove critical race theory — a legal theory taught in some law schools but rarely in elementary schools — from being taught to children.
He also pledged to renew a crackdown on illegal immigration, perhaps the signature policy of his first run for the White House in 2016.
Reporter Ross Williams contributed to this report.
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