Trump speeds up presidential bid runway as he rattles for midterm elections

The former president set a familiar note at the Pennsylvania rally as he swiped at rival candidate 'Ron DeSanctimonious' and effectively kicked off another run for the White House

A Boeing 757 stopped on the tarmac with "Trump" emblazoned next to it in giant gold letters. Loudspeakers boomed in Dixie Elvis Presley, YMCA Village People and Lee Greenwood's God Bless the USA. Donald Trump descended the stairs to loud cheers and whistles from thousands of his supporters.

Officially, the former US president rallied at a regional airport in support of the Republican candidate in Tuesday's midterm elections. Unofficially, he has already accelerated the runway for the 2024 campaign for the White House.

But it didn't quite take off. "I'm not going to say it now," Trump said, bringing the seduced crowd in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, to their feet. "So everyone, I promise you, in a very, very, very short time, you will be very happy."

He wanted to do it, he added, but wanted to stay focused on the party candidate. But minutes earlier, he had given the game away. Two giant screens show a series of polls including one for the Republican primary nomination in 2024 which shows Trump at 71% and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis at 10%. Trump said casually but sharply: "Ron DeSanctimonious at 10%."

The nick-naming exercise is classic Trump and effectively fires the starting gun for a race in which DeSantis is widely considered his most formidable main challenger. On Sunday Trump will chair a rally in Miami, Florida, in support of Senator Marco Rubio - but DeSantis, who is running for re-election as governor, was not invited.

First, on Saturday, Trump was battling a long-standing battle in Pennsylvania, where both his predecessor and successor — Barack Obama and Joe Biden — also campaigned for balance in the tightly contested midterm race that could determine control of the Senate.

The Trump Rally was held at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport, named after a great golfer who learned to fly there. Supporters waved the giant "Trump 2024" flag and wore hats and T-shirts with slogans such as "Trump wins", "Lions not sheep" and "I'm a Trump Girl: Skip This". There were shouts of “USA! USA”, “Come on, Brandon!” – right-wing code to insult Biden – and, at the mention of Hillary Clinton, “Lock him!”

The 45th president came to support Mehmet Oz, the Senate candidate, and Doug Mastriano, running for state governor, each hoping the former president could help them change base.

Speaking with his "Trump Force One" plane and 10 US flags in tow, and two more giant flags hanging from a crane, Trump spoke of a country that is falling back under Democratic control. He hits familiar notes of rampant crime, open borders and America's energy wars. He lambasted the media as "enemies of the people". He lied about "radical left" Democrats cheating to rigged the election.

Wearing a red “Make America great again” hat, he argued during a two-hour speech: “If you want to stop the destruction of our country and save the American dream, then this Tuesday you should vote for the Republicans in a big way.. Nothing good to say about what's happening in our country, but on Tuesday night I think we're going to have very good things to say.

Trump wasn't on the ballot but somehow he, once again, made the midterm elections all about him. He insisted on playing kingmaker during the Republican primaries, risking backing an extreme or experienced candidate who threatened to turn the vote into a referendum on his political power.

Trump did suffer setbacks, particularly in Georgia, but claimed a huge symbolic victory by ousting Liz Cheney, deputy chair of the House of Representatives elected committee investigating the January 6 attacks on the US Capitol — an exercise he again condemned on Saturday.

Now Trump's political capital is at stake again in Tuesday's half-time, with his favorite candidates - like Herschel Walker in Georgia and JD Vance in Ohio - facing tough contests that could end in defeat. But with polls currently showing clear momentum for Republicans, he is likely to score at least a few wins.

Brendan Buck, political strategist and former aide to Republican chiefs Paul Ryan and John Boehner, said: “He tends to look for number one on all points and he will take credit for the people who win no matter how weak the reality of his involvement in the race is.

"He will keep moving forward. He would depend on everything that happened in Washington over the next two years; he tends to block the sun. He will make it much more difficult to manage.”

Polls show that Trump's election for governor of Pennsylvania is unlikely to be successful. Mastriano is a retired army colonel and far-right extremist who introduced the failed resolution after Trump lost Pennsylvania in 2020, falsely claiming that the Republican-controlled legislature had the power to determine which candidate received state electorate votes. He was seen outside the US Capitol during the January 6 uprising.

Following in the footsteps of the state attorney general, Josh Shapiro, Mastriano peppered the rally speech with "culture war" talking points. "Day one, there is no more critical race theory in our school," he said. "On the first day, the wake is broken ... On the first day, there is no more graphic pornography in our school."

The Senate race between Oz and John Fetterman, the state's deputy governor, looked even tighter. Oz barely won the Republican nomination even after gaining Trump's backing. The former president hopes that celebrity TV doctors, who consider former first lady Melania Trump a fan, will help Republicans win over the state's suburban women.

Rally participant Bonnie Morgan, 54, acknowledged that Trump's endorsement of Oz was controversial. "I'm not sure he's conservative, but I voted for him because I didn't want Fetterman to be a senator," he said.

Morgan wore a "Women for Trump 2020" hat and, over her shoulder, a flag that read "Trump 2024: Make votes count again". He said: “He was one of our best presidents, up there with President Reagan. Things are definitely better under President Trump."

During the rally that culminated with music resembling the QAnon conspiracy movement anthem, Trump might claim to be holding back on announcing his third consecutive presidential nomination so as not to distract from the mid-term candidate, but there's little chance of that. Expressing admiration for DeSantis, the audience insisted that – in the event of a fight – their allegiance was to Trump.

Terrance Berry, 47, said: “President Trump already has experience with establishments. He brings out and brings out the truth about what we are dealing with in politics that we have never seen before. I respect Ron DeSantis and other future candidates, but I believe that current president Trump is in control: he is the voice and face of the Republican party today.

“A lot of people agree. If you ask anyone, you'll probably get more people saying: yes, I still vote for Trump. Even if he and DeSantis ran, we would still vote for Trump. We're looking at DeSantis maybe in 2028."

John Sabo, 43, vice president of oil and gas company, agrees: “I'd like to see an entrepreneur back there, someone who's going to be pro-economy, to be able to get us in the right direction. on that side. I like it because a lot of people on the far left don't like it and then you get a lot of Rino-type Republicans or country club Republicans don't like it either.

“What I'm talking about, about what a lot of people here are, are working class people out there getting it done, moving the needle for the country. That, to me, is the appeal."

Koury Barr, 64, a part-time newspaper editor, also supports Trump's 2024 candidacy. "He did great things for this country," he said. “Geez, inflation is under control. Jobs went crazy. He is very good for this nation.”

Even so, some analysts believe that a string of defeats for Trump's inaugurated candidate on Tuesday could still weaken his grip on the party, forcing him to reconsider whether the 76-year-old president, twice impeached, one term – faces multiple federal, state and international investigations. congress - really is the best bet to get the White House back.

Jon Hudak, a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution thinktank in Washington, told the Guardian during a virtual press conference: “In an odd twist, if you look at the Senate seats in Wisconsin, in Ohio, in Pennsylvania, in Georgia going for Democrats, it was a very, very, very good day for Ron DeSantis.

“Ron DeSantis could say: 'Look, the candidate I'm running for has won. I don't inject myself into some other race like the former president did.' And he doesn't have to say anything to get out of it looking good. Ron DeSantis probably wants Tim Ryan to win the Ohio Senate race more than Tim Ryan does because that could really benefit him in 2024."  This article was written by EDUKASI CAMPUS.

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