Caution, excitement, indifference: US reacts to Trump’s campaign

Washington, DC – As Donald Trump announced his third run for the US presidency, a political scene still recovering from months of midterm campaigning turned its attention to the former president’s Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida.

Democrats were quick to remind their audience of the tumult and what they call “failures” of the Trump years, and cracks in the Republican support for the former president became more prominent. While many far-right Republicans rushed to endorse Trump, some conservative news outlets and commentators warned the GOP against realigning behind him.

The announcement late on Tuesday came as Trump’s Republican Party grappled with its disappointing midterm election performance under the de facto stewardship of the former president.

“Florida man makes announcement,” read a headline at the bottom of the front page of the New York Post, a conservative tabloid that backed Trump for years. News of the announcement was buried on page 26.

The National Review, another conservative publication, ran an op-ed by its editorial board titled, “No.” The article described Trump’s presidential bid as an “invitation to double down on the outrages and failures of the last several years that Republicans should reject without hesitation or doubt”.

Since running for president in the 2016 race, Trump had all but purged the Republican Party of his critics – backing primary challengers to his GOP rivals in Congress and leading others to retire.

The Republican Party had become synonymous with Trump’s “Make America Great Again” (MAGA) populist movement.

But after last week’s midterm vote – in which numerous Trump-backed candidates lost key races, costing Republicans the chance to control Congress – many in the party started breaking away from the former president. His announcement on Tuesday night of a presidential run strengthened that trend.

“We need more seriousness, less noise, and leaders who are looking forward, not staring in the rearview mirror claiming victimhood,” former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a potential candidate for the 2024 Republican nomination, wrote on Twitter in a veiled shot at Trump.

Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, told reporters on Wednesday that the “world has changed considerably” in recent weeks, predicting that there will be other GOP candidates seeking the presidency in 2024.

“I’ll support the Republican nominee, but I don’t know that it will be him,” Cornyn said.

As some conservatives ran in the opposite direction from Trump’s campaign, Democrats went on the offensive.

President Joe Biden shared a video – captioned “Donald Trump failed America” – featuring unflattering news clips of his predecessor, including when Trump said there were “fine people on both sides” after a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia that was confronted by counter-protesters in 2017.

Biden’s campaign later sent an email to supporters soliciting donations for the Democratic National Committee in response to Trump’s announcement.

“This team defeated Donald Trump just over two years ago. It wasn’t a fluke,” it said. “Trump pitted neighbors against neighbors. He rigged the economy for the rich. He left behind a mess. But a dedicated base of millions of grassroots supporters … came together to donate, volunteer, and vote in record numbers, and together, we defeated him.”

Biden has previously said he intends to run for reelection, but he has not made his candidacy official.

Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee called for banning Trump from seeking public office again, citing the January 6, 2021, attack by his supporters on the US Capitol.

“The first time Trump ran, he claimed to be an outsider. Now the emperor has no clothes,” Democratic Congressman Jim McGovern wrote on Twitter.

McGovern added that the former president “screwed America to enrich himself” and suggested that Democrats are looking forward to a rematch with Trump in 2024, writing: “Bring it.”

Congresswoman Lori Trahan also pledged to work to ensure that Trump does not win the presidency. “Donald Trump only cares about one thing – himself. He divided our nation to serve his political ambitions. He tried to overthrow our democracy when he lost an election. Now, he wants to do it all over again,” she said in a social media post.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand echoed the congresswoman’s remarks. “Our country can’t withstand another four years of Donald Trump’s chaos. But we defeated Donald Trump before – and we will do it again,” she said in a tweet.

Despite his seemingly fading appeal, Trump earned several endorsements from right-wing US lawmakers, including Republican House members Marjorie Taylor Greene and Elise Stefanik.

“My friend Donald J. Trump has my complete and total endorsement for president in 2024,” Congressman Troy Nehls, a Texas Republican, wrote on Twitter on Tuesday night. “He is the leader of the Republican Party, and we will make America great again!”

Kari Lake, a Trump-backed candidate who recently lost a governor’s race in Arizona, also offered her “complete and total endorsement” to the former president’s 2024 campaign.

Trump’s presidential bid announcement was the earliest for the 2024 season. It came some 15 months before the primary elections kick off with the Iowa caucuses.

The timing led some of the former president’s critics to raise questions on whether he is trying to deflect from his legal issues. Trump is facing several lawsuits and probes, including a criminal investigation into his possible mishandling of secret government documents.

But the former president remains a private citizen, even as a candidate.

“For anyone who needs to hear this – trump [sic] announcing he is running for President does not have a legal impact on investigations. No one at DOJ [Department of Justice] watched that speech and ripped up all of the work they have been pursuing,” former Biden White House press secretary Jen Psaki wrote on Twitter.

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