That question is, of course, both absolutely critical to the future of the Republican Party (and the country) and utterly unanswerable at the moment.
“As you know, it’s very early,” Trump said Tuesday in an interview with Candace Owens on The Daily Wire. “But I think people are going to be very, very happy when I make a certain announcement.”
That sort of winking, you-know-the-deal response about 2024 has become de rigueur from the former President as he ponders his political future. But it also doesn’t really mean anything. We are a long way off from the official (or even unofficial) start of the 2024 campaign — we’re only 183 days removed from the 2020 election and Trump still hasn’t conceded defeat — and he is legendary for changing his mind on a whim.
Plus, even if Trump wants to run, it’s not entirely clear whether his ongoing legal and financial troubles will allow him to do so. That uncertainty has created a fascinating dynamic among would-be candidates — attempting to be deferential to Trump (and his wishes) while also courting his support in the event he doesn’t run.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) is the latest example of this ring-kissing, traveling to Mar-a-Lago to have dinner with the former President on Tuesday night.
Former US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley felt the need to make clear that she wouldn’t run in 2024 if Trump does.
Former Vice President Mike Pence touted Trump — “we made America greater than ever before”— at a recent speech despite the former President’s ongoing animosity toward him regarding the 2020 election.
While it’s not yet clear whether Trump will actually run, what is clear is that — unless something changes drastically — he will:
a) be the CLEAR front-runner for the Republican nomination.
b) be the CLEAR underdog against President Joe Biden in the general election.
Trump remains immensely popular within the GOP base — and almost nowhere else. Which, if he runs again, is a huge problem for Republicans — because they can’t stop him from getting the nomination (see 2016) and he will struggle to win the White House.
The Point: I’m not at all convinced even Trump knows what he will do in 2024. But the entire Republican political world will be hanging on what he decides.