Former President Donald Trump on Tuesday filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission declaring himself a candidate for president in 2024, two years after losing reelection and amid growing signs that his popularity within the Republican Party has dipped.
The filing was made public just minutes before Trump was scheduled to make a major announcement inside the opulent Grant Ballroom of his Mar-a-Lago club, widely expected for days to be a declaration that he is running for president.
Trump’s decision reopens a tumultuous chapter in American politics, one in which Trump’s fans adored his blunt style but critics felt he tore at the country’s social fabric — criticism that, along with concerns over his response to the coronavirus pandemic and the 2020 George Floyd racial justice protests, ultimately undermined his reelection campaign.
Trump, 76, is seeking to become the first president since Grover Cleveland in 1893 to win the presidency after losing a White House race. If he wins the general election in 2024, he would be the nation’s 45th and 47th president.
Before facing a likely rematch with Democratic President Joe Biden, however, Trump must first win the GOP presidential primary against a list of potential rivals that includes Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Trump’s former vice president, Mike Pence. Biden will turn 80 on Sunday. Pence is 63 and DeSantis is 44.
Trump begins the presidential race, according to most data, in the pole position, leading all of his competitors but falling short of an outright majority of support from Republican voters at this early stage.
A survey from Politico/Morning Consult released this week, for instance, found him winning 47% in a hypothetical GOP primary.
DeSantis was the next closest competitor, receiving 33% support.
Trump’s declaration comes against the backdrop of his continued refusal to accept the results of the 2020 election, which he lost, insisting without evidence that Biden stole the race from him. Trump’s repeated claims culminated on Jan. 6, 2021, when a group of his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol and forced lawmakers to evacuate the building, temporarily halting the election’s certification process.
The incident led 10 House Republicans to join Democrats in impeaching the then-president, the second time he had been impeached in four years. The Senate voted to acquit Trump in both cases.
Trump’s announcement also comes three months after the FBI executed a search-and-seizure operation at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home, the site of his announcement Tuesday, related to his handling of classified documents.
Story by Alex Roarty and Bianca Padró Ocasio, McClatchy Washington Bureau