Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a pre-election rally to support Republican candidates in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, U.S., November 5, 2022.
Mike Segar | Reuters
WASHINGTON — After weeks of intensifying speculation, former President Donald Trump said Monday that he will make a “big announcement” on Nov. 15 at his Mar-a-Lago resort, where he is widely expected to announce the launch of his 2024 presidential campaign.
“I’m going to be making a very big announcement on Tuesday, Nov. 15 at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida,” Trump said at a Save America rally in Vandalia, Ohio on the eve of the midterm elections.
Trump was reportedly considering whether to launch his third presidential campaign at the Ohio rally, but national Republicans reached out to him and urged him to hold off, fearing that his announcement could energize Democrats and potentially alienate independent voters.
“We want nothing to detract from the importance of tomorrow,” Trump said.
Trump’s line about Nov. 15 came near the end of a more than 90 minute speech, during which he railed against Democrats, judges who have ruled unfavorably in cases against his family, run down U.S. airports and above all, President Joe Biden.
A Trump spokesman did not respond to a request from CNBC to confirm that his Nov. 15 event will be a campaign launch.
But Trump is eager to jump start his third campaign for president, and preparations for a campaign infrastructure and staffing conversations have ramped up significantly in recent weeks. An early list of potential top aides has already trickled out.
Trump’s speech in Ohio included relatively few mentions of the Republican candidates he was in the state to promote, although several of them were invited up on stage for brief remarks with Trump.
An awkward moment occurred when Ohio Republican Gov. Mike DeWine was booed by the crowd as he came on stage. DeWine is considered an establishment Republican who did not endorse one of the animating principles of Trump’s MAGA movement: The false claim that Trump was the rightful winner of the 2020 presidential election.
Instead of focusing on the Republicans up for election on Tuesday, Trump’s remarks sounded more like a tailor-made rally speech for his own upcoming presidential campaign, with strong echoes of his 2016 campaign speeches.
Trump leaned heavily into themes from his successful 2016 presidential run like illegal immigration and crime. He claimed Democrats had allowed undocumented immigrants to enter the country and commit violent crimes, exactly as he did six years ago, in his first run for public office.
To illustrate his point on Monday, Trump told an anecdote about the sentencing earlier this year of a gang member in the brutal stabbing of a teenage boy.
But the crime for which Trump was blaming Democrats actually took place in 2018, when Trump was in office.
“These people are animals,” Trump said of those involved in the 2018 murder, before noting that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had previously objected to his referring to human beings as “animals.”
“Of course, I think she’s an animal, too,” Trump said of Pelosi, pausing to let the crowd cheer his remark.
Trump then quickly pivoted to how the news media would surely say, “Oh, what a horrible thing he said about Nancy!” But it was justified, Trump said, because “She impeached me twice for nothing. Nothing!”
The Democratic House Speaker has long been a target of fierce verbal attacks from Republicans. But those words were cast in a new light two weeks ago, when a conspiracy theorist broke into Pelosi’s San Francisco home and attacked her husband, Paul Pelosi, with a hammer.
The attacker, identified by police as David DePape, said his goal was to kidnap the House Speaker and break her kneecaps.
As Trump inches closer to formally kicking off the 2024 presidential race, polls show he enjoys unparalleled support among Republican voters.
Trump averages more than 20 percentage points over his closest rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, the only other Republican presidential prospect whose support is consistently in the double digits.
Trump would also enter the race with more than $60 million in cash held by his leadership PAC, Save America, and a prodigious fundraising operation that vacuums up small dollar donations from the Republican base.
Should Trump seek and win the Republican nomination, he will likely face President Joe Biden in a rematch of their 2020 presidential contest.
Biden has yet to formally launch his reelection campaign, but plans for it have reportedly solidified in recent weeks.