Will he or won’t he? Americans tired of the rampant speculation are surely having a relief-filled two months. First Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady responded to a hasty ESPN report by announcing his retirement from the NFL. Then, former president Donald Trump told a roaring crowd at CPAC that he intends to run for America’s highest office a third time.
“We did it twice, and we’ll do it again,” Trump said. “We’re going to be doing it again.”
Trump’s announcement is a gut punch for other 2024 contenders who secretly hoped he’d step back and play kingmaker. Former secretary of state Mike Pompeo, Florida governor Ron DeSantis, former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, Texas senator Ted Cruz, and former New Jersey governor Chris Christie have all been floated as likely 2024 candidates, but now it seems they’ll merely be jockeying for the vice president pick.
A CPAC presidential straw poll found that 59 percent of the conference’s attendees want Trump to be the GOP’s nominee in 2024. DeSantis landed in second with 28 percent. This was an improvement for Trump from 2021, where he received 55 percent of the CPAC vote.
Current events undoubtedly have affected his rise in popularity with the Republican base. Trump, with the exception of Pompeo, has the most foreign policy experience out of anyone else in the field. He was one of just a few speakers at CPAC who even talked about the Russia-Ukraine conflict on the main stage, and was able to convincingly make the case that things would’ve been different if he were in office.
“I stand as the only president of the twenty-first century on whose watch Russia did not invade another country,” Trump asserted.
He managed to strike the right tone to reassure both America First doves and establishment hawks, dressing down the idea that sanctions were enough to stop Putin but also chastising Biden for caring more about Ukraine than the US southern border.
“Putin is saying ‘oh they’re going to sanction me, they sanctioned me for the last twenty-five years.’ You mean, I can take over a whole country and they’re going to sanction me? You mean they’re not going to blow us to pieces at least psychologically?” he said. “The problem is not that Putin is smart, which of course he’s smart, but the real problem is that our leaders are dumb.”
Inflation, supply chain issues and gas prices certainly have Americans yearning for the pre-Covid Trump economy, as well.
Biden’s disastrous tenure launched the meme-like refrain that at least Trump isn’t sending mean tweets anymore. That’s a lot easier to joke about, too, when Trump isn’t actually on Twitter. Thank Big Tech for that backfire. Meanwhile, the Democrats have once again massively overplayed their hand and turned legitimate concerns about the January 6 riot into an “Orange Man Bad” political witch hunt.
The star power of some celebrities might fade with time, but Trump has only seemed to benefit from his year away from the White House. At CPAC, he returned with a vengeance.