- The Washington Times - Monday, November 7, 2022

Former President Donald Trump told supporters Monday they can expect a big announcement from him on Nov. 15, teasing his plans for a political comeback with a White House run in 2024.

Mr. Trump said he is holding off on his announcement because he doesn’t want to take the focus away from the 2022 midterm elections, urging votes to rally behind the candidates who have embraced the Make America Great Again movement and won his blessing.

“I would say in the strongest way, it’s a country-saving election, specifically including the election of all the people that … will start to take the country back,” he said at the tail end of a 90-plus minute speech at an Ohio rally ostensibly on behalf of Senate GOP nominee J.D. Vance.

“I’m going to be making a very big announcement on Tuesday, Nov. 15 at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida,” he then said.

Mr. Trump urged his supporters to rally behind Mr. Vance and the slew of candidates he has endorsed around the country, including Senate nominee Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, and both Blake Masters and Kari Lake, the Senate and gubernatorial nominee in Arizona.

Mr. Trump has been teasing a possible political comeback for weeks, and the comments at the Ohio rally were the firmest signal that he is serious about running again.

Railing against a Democratic Party apparatus that he accused of destroying America, Mr. Trump told the thousands of supporters at the rally that the FBI and Justice Department have been weaponized against him and his family.  

“They are coming for me because I am fighting for you,” he said.

Despite their efforts to crush him, Mr. Trump said Democrats’ unscrupulous assault on him was strengthening his MAGA movement.

He accused Democrats of cheating in elections, saying it is “the only way they win” and claimed again to have won the 2020 election.

Calling on GOP voters to send a humiliating “rebuke” of Democrats in Tuesday’s election, he framed the contest as a battle between his America First agenda and “communism.”

“This country has gone crazy,” Mr. Trump told the crowd. “We have to get out there and swamp them with the vote,.”

Turning to Mr. Vance, he called him an “all-star” and said his rival, Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan, is not a “Trump ally.”

If he ran himself, the former president would become the immediate frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination.

He raised carloads of money and his endorsement became the golden ticket for nearly every Republican primary race. And his opposition proved to be the kiss of death for Republicans whom he deemed as foes.

Mr. Trump’s unproven charge that the 2020 election was stolen by shadowy Democratic figures has become an article of faith among a broad swath of Republicans, many of whom have lost faith in early voting that the party promoted for years.

Polls, meanwhile, have consistently shown Mr. Trump is the favorite of Republican primary voters.

Still, serious questions loom about whether the 76-year-old is the GOP’s best bet for winning a general election. President Biden defeated him in the 2020 election, and Mr. Trump is facing a slew of investigations into his business dealings and political activities.

The pending announcement will shift the spotlight onto the slate of other possible 2024 presidential contenders, perhaps most notably Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida.

Mr. DeSantis is running for re-election in Florida and has built a strong following within the Republican Party. The 44-year-old has been praised for refusing to bow down to his critics while doggedly pursuing a conservative agenda in Florida.

He also has been billed as a more polished Trump-like figure who could connect with moderate Republicans turned off by Mr. Trump’s brash and bombastic style. He also has not gone all-in on Mr. Trump’s stolen election claims.

But at a rally Saturday in western Pennsylvania, Mr. Trump attacked him as “Ron DeSanctimonious.”

It is a change in tone from 2018 when Mr. Trump’s endorsement of Mr. DeSantis is credited with playing a major role in his underdog bid for governor. The jab also sparked a round of criticism from Republicans who saw it as an unnecessary — and undisciplined — distraction when the entire party should be focused on winning back the House and Senate.

Mr. DeSantis did not attend the former president’s rally Sunday in Miami for Sen. Marco Rubio, though Mr. Trump did urge attendees to back the governor’s reelection bid.

Mr. Trump has been teasing the idea of another run since leaving office in a chaotic fashion.

In his first post-presidency speech last year at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Mr. Trump asked, “Do you miss me yet?”

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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