‘Big announcement’: Donald Trump holds back decision on 2024 presidential run

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Confidants spent much of Monday putting it about that former US president Donald Trump was on the brink of announcing his intention to become a future president at a campaign rally in Dayton, Ohio.

The crowds shuffling into a corner of the local airport, run by a company named after the Wright brothers who invented the first aeroplane in their Dayton bicycle shop, were excited that they might be about to witness history and their man on his way back to the White House.

An announcement would have come as no great surprise to any of them as “Trump 2024” has been in the works for months now. But in the end it didn’t come at all.

Still, Trump ratcheted up the expectation a little further with the promise of something big next week from his Florida home.

“Not to detract from tomorrow’s very important, even critical, election,” he told a crowd that waited hours for this moment. “I’m going to be making a very big announcement on Tuesday, November 15, at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach Florida. We want nothing to detract from the importance of tomorrow.”

Trump was ostensibly in Ohio to campaign for the Republican candidate for the US Senate, JD Vance, who polls say is struggling to stay ahead of his Democratic rival, Tim Ryan, in a race that could decide control of the Senate. But the vast majority of the former president’s 100 minute speech was, as ever, about himself.

As the crowd listened expectantly, Trump rambled through anecdotes about getting soaked by tropical rains in Florida, the life span of windshield wipers, and how he is not allowed to call women beautiful any more before asking a group of them if their “marriages are intact”.

The former president also revealed he knew the difference between socialism and communism as he claimed that under president Joe Biden the US has skipped the first and gone straight to the second.

“This country has gone crazy. There’s only one choice to end this madness. If you support the decline for all of America, then you must absolutely vote for the radical left crazy people, the radical left Democrats. And if you want to stop the destruction of our country and save the American dream, then tomorrow you must vote Republican in a giant red wave that we’ve all been hearing about,” he said.

Trump took a break from fulminating against the array of civil and criminal investigations into his activities, allegedly stolen elections, and immigrants to taunt another favourite target at the rally, reporters.

“They’re waiting for something!” he exclaimed gleefully.

So was the crowd.

All day Trump’s aides and allies had whispered that he wanted to use the rally to announce another run for president. It had the intended effect.

“Trump preparing to announce?”, blared the banner headline at the beginning of the CBS evening news.

Attention was drawn.

Some of Trump’s strategists thought that by announcing on the eve of the elections, he would be able to claim credit for giving Republicans a boost if they win big. But he was also warned that he risked being blamed if the Democrats do better than expected.

Former NY mayor and Trump confidant, Rudi Giuliani, said that it would be a mistake to announce the day before the midterms because it wouldn’t help Republican candidates.

The announcement didn’t come but it was clear Trump was laying the ground for when it does.

“They say Trump was right about everything. And I don’t want to brag, but I was right about everything,” he said.

The crowd agreed.

The former president put poll numbers up on a screen that showed he commands 71% support among Republicans compared to just 10% for the man regarded as his most likely challenger, the Florida governor Ron DeSantis. Just days ago, Trump belittled DeSantis as Ron “DeSanctimonious” while also endorsing him in his campaign for governor.

That angered some Republicans but Trump would appear to retain his grip on the party – a reality made clear when the former president invited Ohio’s governor, Mike DeWine, a far more moderate Republican, on to the stage and the crowd booed.

If the expected announcement finally comes next week, Trump remains the most likely winner of the Republican presidential primaries in 2024. If anyone dares to run against him.

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