Trump at rally talks 2024 run: ‘I may have to do it again’

Politics

(NewsNation) — Former President Donald Trump on Saturday hinted he could run for president again in 2024 at his first rally of the general election season in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

“I may have to do it again,” Trump said.

Trump was in Pennsylvania to help boost support for Senate candidate Mehmet Oz and gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, both of whom he backed in their Republican primary races. 

While Trump’s endorsed picks won many Republican primaries this summer, many of the candidates he backed were inexperienced and polarizing figures now struggling in their November races. 

As The Hill’s Niall Stanage noted on NewsNation “Prime,” however, at a rally that was meant to build support for Oz and Mastriano, Trump didn’t speak much about either candidate.

“He didn’t really mention Mehmet Oz or Doug Mastriano until really quite late in his remarks,” Stanage said.

Trump also took his time bringing up policing and gas prices, Stanage said — which are both issues the GOP wants to fight midterm elections on.

“If you were watching the speech live, you had to wade through a lot of the former president’s greatest hits, I suppose we could say, until you got to those issues,” Stanage said.

Saturday’s rally was also Trump’s first since the FBI searched his home in Florida. During his speech, he slammed the search as a “travesty of justice that made a mockery of America’s laws, traditions and principles.”

Attorney Mark Reichel said after the speech that the former president wasn’t doing himself any favors by speaking at this rally, especially when he talked about the search warrant executed on Mar-a-Lago.

“I think there’s no dispute that he has the worst legal counsel I think we’ve ever seen,” Reichel said. “This former president is literally speaking into an echo chamber of sympathetic ears. But the Department of Justice may look for one or two things where he acknowledges culpability or guilt — they’re not going to be deterred.”

On Thursday, President Joe Biden painted a picture of American democracy in peril at the hands of “MAGA Republicans,” fervent loyalists to Trump, whom he said were a grim threat to U.S. democracy, during his “Soul of the Nation” address.

The appearances by Biden and Trump serve to show the stark contrasts and growing chasm emerging between Democrats and Republicans in one of America’s most pivotal swing states.

Republicans did not take Biden’s condemnation of their party lightly, as GOP politicians and right-wing news outlets pounced on what they tagged as divisive comments by Biden at a time when tensions nationwide are already high.

Trump also hit back at remarks made in Biden’s speech, saying it was “dark and divisive,” and that it was an insult to the people who voted for him.

“He thinks making America great again is a threat to our country,” Trump said. “No, making America great again is great for our country.”

The stakes are particularly high for Trump as he lays the groundwork for an expected 2024 presidential run amid a series of escalating legal challenges.

Trump’s base of voters seems anything but turned off, if not energized by, the litany of investigations swirling around the embattled former president, including the DOJ and FBI Mar-a-Lago investigation, the ongoing Jan. 6 inquiry, the Georgia election tampering probe and a financial wrongdoing investigation in New York.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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