At the moment, it looks like nothing will stop Donald Trump from announcing his 2024 campaign for the Republican nomination tonight. Even though it will clearly overshadow his last remaining hand-picked candidate in Georgia and the runoff that might give Trump a needed win in the midterms, the former president will hold a presser tonight at Mar-a-Lago to announce his new campaign.

That raises a question of its own, actually:

Trump is widely expected to finally state from his Mar-a-Lago club that he is launching a 2024 comeback campaign for the White House. He has been hinting, teasing, suggesting — an entire thesaurus worth of synonyms for signaling — his intentions since a late February 2021 speech at a conservative political action summit in Orlando.

Trump publicly designated Tuesday evening as the time and place for letting the country know his plans. During a rally in Ohio a week ago, he said he would make a “very big announcement” on Nov. 15.

Since then, however, the ex-president has been relentlessly firing broadsides toward an entire slate of political foes, from Florida’s freshly re-elected governor to the leading conservative media outlets, while stoking conspiracies of election irregularities from Arizona to Michigan.

Why do this at a presser or in a statement at Mar-a-Lago? Why not hold a rally? It’s not as if Trump can’t get thousands of people to show up for an event. Even after the midterms soured many on his influence, Trump still has an enthusiastic core base that will turn up when given the opportunity. To put it in Trump’s own terms, a campaign launch at a presser (or even more so, a statement release alone) would look rather low-energy for any candidate, but especially for a showman like Donald Trump.

Perhaps his team didn’t have time to arrange a rally, which takes significant logistics, coordination, and money. Fair enough, but that would be an argument for delaying the announcement rather than skipping a dramatic reveal with cheering crowds to garnish it even further. What’s the rush, especially in light of the needs for an all-hands-on-deck effort to get Herschel Walker across the finish line in Georgia — a candidate Trump himself recruited and promoted for the Senate race?

The Wall Street Journal editorial board thinks Trump may be playing Beat the Clock with the Department of Justice, for one thing, and perhaps playing a similar game with Ron DeSantis and Glenn Youngkin:

Mr. Trump’s advisers urged him to hold off at least until the Dec. 6 Senate runoff in Georgia. But Mr. Trump is announcing now, long before he needs to, for two reasons. The first is to try to clear the Republican field of potential competitors, especially Govs. Ron DeSantis and Glenn Youngkin, who have shown they can win in competitive states.

Mr. Trump also wants to get ahead of a possible Justice Department indictment. If Mr. Trump is already announced as a candidate seeking President Biden’s job, he figures he can portray an indictment by Attorney General Merrick Garland as political and rally Republicans to his side. Herschel Walker’s fate is incidental to Mr. Trump’s ambition.

Based on past performance, everyone’s fate is incidental to Trump’s ambition. Trump might be entirely alone in that, either; Mike Pence is touring behind his new memoir rather than pushing it off until after December 6, hammering Walker’s patron and giving Raphael Warnock’s team plenty of material for runoff messaging. That’s only one example; later, I’ll have a look at a report that PACs on the Right, including one of Trump’s but at least another from the GOP establishment, are making Walker’s fate incidental to their fundraising too. Focus seems in short supply at the moment.

At any rate, it seems doubtful that this will keep the DoJ from proceeding with an indictment. Their policy is to avoid revealing indictments in close proximity to elections in order to avoid the appearance of corrupt influence on the democratic process. The next election Trump would face as a candidate would be in January 2024. Arguably, the runoff election in Georgia would be far more of a consideration for the DoJ than Trump’s status as a declared candidate for presidential primaries more than a year off.

The WSJ editorial board uses this to frame its core argument. They aren’t bothering to talk Trump out of announcing or running for president again. The editors are warning Republican voters and activists that any support Trump gets would be an enormous gift to Democrats, however:

Last week’s elections showed that clinging to 2020 election denial, as Mr. Trump has, is a loser’s game. Republicans who took this line to win his endorsement nearly all lost. The country showed it wants to move on, but Mr. Trump refuses—perhaps because he can’t admit to himself that he was a loser.

Mr. Trump will carry all of that baggage and more into a 2024 race. In 2016 voters took a chance on the brash outsider businessman against the unpopular Hillary Clinton. Now Americans know that the Donald Trump they saw in office is the same one they’d get for another four years. They voted in 2018 and 2020 to stop the daily turmoil. It’s hard to believe they’d vote in 2024 to do it all again.

Many Republicans who see Mr. Trump as their champion will want to take that chance. They say only he can take on a willful, increasingly radical left. But two years out of office, Mr. Trump remains more unpopular than Mr. Biden. He divides Republicans, while he is the most effective motivator of Democratic voter turnout in history. …

The problem for Republicans is that Mr. Trump’s base is so loyal that he might win the nomination in a splintered field. That’s what happened in 2016.

That Democrats want a Trump 2024 run is undeniably true. Democrats successfully turned the midterms into a referendum on Trump in races where his preferred primary candidate won. In fact, they poured $53 million into their Akin Strategy to ensure that his picks won their nominations, and then Democrats won most if not all of those races. Watch the early messaging and money when primary processes start early next year to see whether and when Democrats take aim at DeSantis, Youngkin, and other alternatives — and whether they leave Trump alone.

But it’s also true that a lot of Republican voters still want Trump as well. Recent polls from the Club for Growth and YouGov show that support ebbing, but a new Politico/Morning Consult poll shows Trump still ahead of a surging DeSantis, 47/33, after the midterms. It will take a robust midterm debate to settle the question, and also a level of commitment and focus on the part of other Republican leadership. Namely, we will see whether they engage in another free-for-all that will create the splintered field about which the WSJ warns, or whether they exercise some discipline and make it into a two-person distinct choice for Republican voters.

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