Tue. Dec 6th, 2022

Former US President Donald Trump officially launched his third bid for the White House on Tuesday with a rant-filled speech from his Mar-a-Lago club, setting the stage for a potentially ugly presidential campaign over the next two years.

Despite two impeachments, mounting election losses and declining support among Republicans, Trump presented himself during a prime-time address as the only candidate who can defeat President Joe Biden, who is expected to run again in 2024.

“America’s comeback begins right now,” Trump told a room of gathered supporters.

His speech echoed those he has given at rallies across the country over the past few months, arguing that acts of aggression from North Korea, China and Russia, including the war in Ukraine, would not have happened under a second term.

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He blamed Biden for record-high inflation and energy prices, as well as a wave of migrants across the southern border that he called an “invasion” — recalling his first campaign launch in 2015, when he compared Mexican immigrants to “rapists.”

Two years ago we were a great nation, and soon we will be a great nation again, Trump said.

At one point, amid a litany of complaints about the state of the country, Trump asserted that he and his movement do not want to be “critics” or “complainers.” He narrowly avoided his biggest complaint to date — that his 2020 election was stolen, despite no evidence — that prompted an attack on the U.S. Capitol nearly two years ago and led to his second impeachment and multiple criminal investigations.

“I didn’t need this, I had a very nice and easy life,” he said later. But we love our country and want to protect it.

Trump submitted his statement to the Federal Election Commission less than half an hour before the speech began.

Trump’s announcement was meant to serve as the culmination of a Republican victory in last week’s election, which was expected to give the party a large majority in the House of Representatives as well as control of the Senate.

That didn’t happen—Democrats are guaranteed to keep the Senate, while Republicans are expected to make slight gains in the House—and many conservatives in politics and the media have blamed Trump for the party’s underperformance.

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Click to play video: 'Republicans reflect on disappointing midterms as Trump 2024 announcement looms.'

Republicans are mulling disappointing midterm elections as Trump’s 2024 announcement approaches

Several prominent Senate and gubernatorial candidates who earned Trump’s endorsement, including Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania and Kari Lake in Arizona, were defeated. Lake and other candidates who lost their races repeated Trump’s false claims of election fraud and similarly refused to say whether they would accept their own defeats this year.

One of Trump’s endorsers, Georgia Senate candidate Herschel Walker, is headed to a December runoff after finishing second to Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock on Election Day. Aides and allies urged Trump to wait until the runoff to announce his plans and expressed disappointment that Trump rejected their pleas.

“Frankly, it would have been better, I think, if he had said, ‘I’m going to make a big announcement, but first I’m going to go to Georgia and make sure Herschel Walker wins that race,'” former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, a Trump ally , he told conservative media outlet Newsmax on Tuesday night.

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“I can’t explain why he would choose right now before this election in Georgia is decided.”

During his speech, Trump urged his supporters to vote for Walker, saying he would be a “great senator.”

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Matthew Lebo, a political science professor at Western University, told Global News in an email that Trump’s timing “makes sense” regardless of the midterm results.

“He’s going to look for the free media that comes with running and he’s going to take advantage of the opportunities to take on his Republican competitors like Ron DeSantis,” he said.

DeSantis won re-election last week as governor of Florida, and now many in his party are calling for him to run for president as well. Several polls show DeSantis could beat Trump in next year’s Republican primary, and the governor’s support has only grown since his midterm performance.

The gamble for Trump, Lebo said, is whether his 2016 strategy of picking off his primary rivals one by one will again be effective in a much different environment.

“It will be interesting to see how his attacks work or don’t work when one competitor gets so much attention,” Lebo said. “That is, when the non-Trump votes are held by one competitor instead of six, can Trump knock them out of the race?”

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Click to play video: 'US midterms: Democrats predicted to win Senate as some GOP point finger at Trump for losses'

US midterms: Democrats predicted to win Senate as some GOP point finger at Trump for losses

Other Trump allies didn’t seem concerned about DeSantis’ rise.

“President Trump, he’s getting people excited, energizing our base and increasing voter turnout,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia told reporters Tuesday in Washington, adding that she didn’t think Trump’s announcement would affect her state’s Senate runoff. .

“As far as people supporting Ron DeSantis or anyone else who might announce that they’re running, of course that’s their choice and they can do that. But President Trump remains the leader of the Republican Party and (he) will be our nominee through 2024. I have no doubt about that.”

Trump faces multiple criminal investigations related to the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol and his alleged mishandling of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago club and home. His company, the Trump Organization, is also facing a civil suit in New York on tax fraud charges that is currently being heard by a jury.

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Legal experts see his presidential candidacy as an attempt to distance himself from those fabricated investigations, which he called politically motivated even before their publication.

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Donald Trump’s US presidential campaign is gearing up to kick off after the midterm elections

A congressional committee investigating the attack on the Capitol is due to submit its final report later this year after holding a series of bombshell hearings that found Trump was a “central player” in efforts to overturn his election defeat, as well as instigating the attack itself to disrupt Congressional confirmation of Biden’s victory.

Trump defied a committee subpoena that gave the former president until Monday to testify and produce documents detailing his communications leading up to the attack.

During his announcement on Tuesday, he called himself a “victim” and complained about the legal scrutiny he has faced since leaving the White House.

He concluded by reiterating the same campaign slogan he has held since 2015: “We will make America great again.”