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Publicly, President Trump is still clinging to the false belief that he was the true winner of the 2020 election. In private, however, he has begun planning for life after he leaves office on Jan. 20, according to several media reports.
One of the possible next moves is running for president again in 2024. He may even be considering launching his next campaign on Joe Biden’s Inauguration Day, reports say.
Trump has every legal right to pursue the presidency one more time. The Constitution limits presidents to two terms but doesn’t require that the terms be consecutive. That said, former presidents who’ve sought the White House have almost all failed.
Grover Cleveland — who lost reelection in 1888 but won a second term in 1892 — is the only president in American history to serve nonconsecutive terms. The last former president to pursue the White House after losing reelection was Herbert Hoover, who failed in bids to win the Republican nomination in 1936 and 1940 after being trounced by Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1932 election.
Why there’s debate
There are a number of reasons to believe Trump may indeed run for president again. The most convincing, perhaps, is that his odds of victory appear to be strong. More than 74 million Americans voted for Trump in this year’s election, the second most in history behind Biden. Many Republicans believe that, at the very least, Trump would cruise through the GOP primary if he pursued the party’s nomination.
Another presidential campaign would keep Trump in the spotlight after he leaves office and help him maintain his command of the Republican Party, political analysts say. He may also crave the opportunity to counter his legacy as a rare incumbent to lose reelection by once again winning the nation’s highest office.
Others say it’s far-fetched that Trump will launch an earnest effort to reclaim the presidency. He may keep speculation of a 2024 run alive or even make a formal campaign announcement, but the goal will be to keep him in the headlines and boost fundraising, skeptics say. It’s also possible that Trump may simply enjoy civilian life more than he did the rigors of serving as president.
Some pundits believe there may not be a window for Trump to run again in 2024. Several prominent Republicans have called for the party to pivot away from his divisive form of politics, and more may join them once he’s left office. Trump also faces potentially significant legal problems once he becomes a private citizen that may prevent him from running again.
“If he chooses to pose as a defeated fighter who would fight again, Trump could also tap potentially enormous supplies of two things he craves: attention and money.” — Michael D’Antonio, CNN
“2024 candidates don’t want to talk about Donald Trump. They want to talk about themselves. But so long as he is making noises about running again, the race will be all about him. And these candidates will be less inclined to do the early state travel because it will all be in the shadow of whether or not Trump runs again.” — Republican strategist Alex Conant to Fox News
“While Trump’s loss was supposed to trigger a Republican Party reset, his flirtation with a 2024 bid ensures he’ll remain the dominant force in the party and cast a shadow over anyone looking to succeed him.” — Alex Isenstadt, Politico
“The 2024 Republican nomination is Trump’s if he wants it. He has the most loyal base of any president in modern history. … No sane Republican would challenge him.” — Marc A. Thiessen, Washington Post
“If Trump himself passes on the opportunity, his two very political children Don Jr. and Ivanka Trump could also potentially pick up the mantle. Trump Jr. has long acted as an outside surrogate for his father online and in the press and connects strongly with his base. Ivanka, meanwhile, has years of administration experience under her belt as a White House adviser to her father.” — Jon Levine, New York Post
“Like a horror movie murderer who just won’t die, the brutal reality of a Trump who refuses to go quietly always seemed like a certainty. So now, before the curtain has officially dropped on the awful original, it appears a sequel may already be in the works.” — Peter Wade, Rolling Stone
“Trump gets to leave office with millions of adoring fans. He can go enjoy that fame, make money with a score-settling book, go on TV to say what’s on his mind, and never have to worry about actually governing again. He shouldn’t run for president again. There’s a better job and life for him on the horizon.” — Eddie Scarry, Washington Examiner
“The prospect of a 2024 run is politically significant. It’s also a complete fiction. Donald Trump will not be running for president again. He will, however, continue to tease the possibility of a 2024 run.” — Paul Waldman, Washington Post
“Trump is in for years of scandals and humiliations. We will doubtlessly find out more about official misdeeds he tried to keep secret as president. Republicans who hope to succeed him will have reason to start painting him as a loser instead of a savior. He’ll have to devote much of his energy to trying to stay out of prison.” — Michelle Goldberg, New York Times
“Although Trump surpassed electoral expectations, defeat is defeat. A reckoning for the Republican party is inevitable with moderates and ‘Never Trumpers’ urging a fresh start.” — David Smith, Guardian
“In the American elections course that I teach, students learn details about the long-term political impacts of these comeback efforts, most of which are exercises in futility.” — Robert Speel, Conversation
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