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Trump poised to launch 2024 comeback bid as he makes 'very big announcement' tonight

Possible 2024 rivals are circling, chief among them the rising star governor of Florida Ron DeSantis.

DONALD TRUMP IS expected to launch a new White House bid tonight, despite a dismal showing by Republican loyalists in midterm elections that has dented his momentum and emboldened his critics.

Six years after the reality TV star’s long-shot victory stunned the world, the 76-year-old former president remains enormously popular with millions of grassroots supporters – and has made no secret of his ambition to run again.

Speaking to a cheering crowd in Ohio on the eve of the midterm elections earlier this month, Trump said: “Not to detract from tomorrow’s very important, even critical election … I’m going to be making a very big announcement on Tuesday, 15 November at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida.”

But Trump’s “very big announcement” – for which he has summoned the press to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida – comes at a turbulent time, with each day appearing to weaken the years-long grip he has held on his party.

Republicans are licking their wounds after a bitterly disappointing showing in the 8 November vote, widely blamed on the underperformance of high-profile Trump-anointed candidates.

Some are openly asking whether the twice-impeached Trump – with his divisive brand of politics and mess of legal woes – is the right person to carry the party colors next time around.

And possible 2024 rivals are circling, chief among them the rising star governor of Florida Ron DeSantis.

Ever-unpredictable, Trump could yet change his mind at the last minute, although delaying the announcement now – as some advisers reportedly urged – appeared increasingly unlikely.

“Hopefully TODAY will turn out to be one of the most important days in the history of our Country!” Trump posted on his Truth Social platform ahead of the 9pm (2am Irish time) announcement.

‘Red wave’ crashes

Having failed to wrest control of the Senate, Republicans are inching towards a likely takeover of the House of Representatives but with a razor-thin majority that will be difficult to keep in line.

Leading up to the vote, Trump made denial of the 2020 election results a key litmus test for candidates seeking his endorsement.

In the latest sign that Trump and his hardcore followers do not lead the electoral juggernaut they once did, one of his most loyal allies, the election denier Kari Lake, lost her race to be governor of Arizona.

The string of defeats has sapped Trump’s momentum heading into Tuesday’s expected launch.

“This is certainly not the rollout I’m sure Donald Trump wanted for his announcement tonight,” outgoing congresswoman Liz Cheney, a fierce Republican critic of Trump, said during a Washington Post event.

In 2016, Trump and the Republicans swept into power, taking control of the White House and maintaining their majorities in both chambers of Congress.

But Democrats won back the House of Representatives in a 2018 landslide after campaigning largely against Trump’s caustic style, going on to reclaim the Senate and the White House in 2020.

President Joe Biden, whose victory Trump still refuses to acknowledge, has said his intention is to seek a second term – but he will make a final decision early next year.

‘Better choices’

For the moment, Trump retains an undeniable popularity with his base.

But his White House pursuit will be complicated by multiple investigations into his conduct before, during and after his first term as president – which could ultimately result in his disqualification.

Those include allegations of fraud by his family business, his role in last year’s US Capitol attack and his stashing of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, which was searched by the FBI in August.

Trump departed Washington in chaos two weeks after his partisans stormed the US Capitol, but chose to remain in the political arena, continuing to fundraise and hold rallies around the country.

His once-loyal vice president, Mike Pence, who releases his memoirs today and is seen as a potential 2024 challenger – told ABC News this week that Trump’s behavior on January 6, 2021 had been “reckless”.

But Pence declined to say directly whether Trump should be president again. “That’s up to the American people, but I think we’ll have better choices in the future,” he said in the interview.

Florida showdown

And there is no doubt the hunt for an alternative to Trump has already begun, with part of the conservative world betting on DeSantis, Florida’s hard-right governor.

DeSantis, asked to comment on Trump’s planned announcement and some of his less-than-flattering comments about him, had a ready reply, urging “people to go check out the scoreboard from last Tuesday night.”

For the 44-year-old DeSantis is riding high after a resounding reelection victory and Tuesday’s announcement is seen in part as a way for Trump to take the wind out of his sails.

© AFP 2022 

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