Former President Trump has been in discussions with some aides about potentially announcing a 2024 presidential bid as early as Monday night, according to two sources familiar with the talks.
The sources, who requested anonymity to discuss the conversations, said Trump has been mulling an announcement during a Monday night rally in Ohio, which is ostensibly intended to boost support for GOP Senate candidate J.D. Vance ahead of Tuesday’s midterm elections.
No decision is final, the sources noted.
Axios reporter Jonathan Swan first tweeted that Republicans would be closely watching Trump’s Ohio rally and that the former president may be accelerating his timeline to announce his candidacy.
Speculation about an announcement from Trump has ratcheted up significantly in recent weeks, with the former president himself nodding at the anticipation at recent rallies and saying that supporters should watch the Ohio rally.
“I ran twice, I won twice and I did much better the second time than the first,” Trump said Sunday at a rally in Miami. “In order to make our country successful, safe and glorious, I probably have to do it again. Stay tuned tomorrow night in the great state of Ohio. Stay tuned.”
Trump allies and aides have counseled him in both directions, with some urging him to announce as early as possible to clear the field of potential challengers and perhaps complicate a Department of Justice investigation into whether he mishandled classified documents.
“To all the press texting & calling me: Trump should announce tonight,” Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), one of Trump’s most ardent congressional allies, tweeted Monday. “His candidates won the primaries. Biden’s central message was the ‘ULTRA MAGA’ scare. And we are going to win BIGLY! Trump deserves all the credit for this wave election & announcing tonight he will seize it.”
Others in Trump’s orbit have cautioned him against an early announcement that might step on the GOP’s midterm messaging.
“I give him a ton of credit for not announcing this year, for not stepping in the way of the midterm candidates, which a lot of people around him — who, frankly, need him for their next meal and their next gig and their next center of power — were urging him and begging him and leaking to a lot of you that he would be announcing any moment,” former Trump campaign manager and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway told reporters last week.
“I’m glad that he didn’t do that,” she continued. “That was certainly my advice from the beginning, you know, wait until after the midterms if you do it at all.”
Polls have shown Trump remains popular with the vast majority of Republicans, and he made a point at a Saturday rally to read off polls that show him leading other would-be presidential candidates such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and former Vice President Mike Pence.
But polls have also shown a majority of independents and a growing number of Republicans would rather see another candidate. While Trump would be a formidable candidate in a GOP primary thanks to his loyal base of supporters, he also carries significant baggage.
He is under multiple investigations for his conduct around the 2020 election and after leaving office, and polls have shown many Americans hold him responsible for the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol, where his supporters sought to halt the certification of the 2020 election.