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The chaotic reality of the 2024 White House campaign was laid bare over the course of a weekend of fierce political clashes with less than a year until Election Day.

The battle for the Republican nomination is about far more than a simple popularity contest. Its outcome will decide whether the country confronts an unprecedented general election – which one prospective nominee, ex-President Donald Trump, would fight while facing numerous criminal prosecutions and pledging a presidency of retribution that might rock US democracy as never before.

Less than two months remain until the election, and time is running out for one of his distant Republican competitors to recast the contest. New evidence emerged over the weekend showing that leading Republicans have not yet answered the GOP primary’s central question: how to take advantage of Trump’s greatest general election weakness—his lawlessness and criminal exposure—without turning off GOP voters.

Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina, has recently been a vocal opponent of Trump. Her most recent condemnation came only days after Trump was accused of mimicking Nazi propaganda and as he solidified plans to use the presidency as a vehicle of personal vengeance. Her diplomatic language, however, served only to emphasise her political predicament and Trump’s overwhelming primary victory.

When asked in Iowa if she agreed with Trump’s recent comments labelling political opponents as “vermin,” Haley responded she did not. These comments had prompted comparisons to the Nazi era from the White House and other critics of the ex-president. Without mentioning the ex-president’s impending criminal trials or his intention to violate the will of voters by staying in power after he lost the 2020 election, she also tried to allude to the potential uproar of a second Trump administration.

The complete anarchy of it, am I right? I believe he is sincere in his intentions. But the anarchy must end,” Haley, Trump’s first UN ambassador, added. Thus, Donald Trump is not the main focus, and no, I do not share his personality traits. And yeah, he does say inappropriate things. We are currently giving off a really distracted appearance. It’s a dangerous world when the United States is preoccupied elsewhere.

Although he avoided Trump’s most egregious past, like Haley, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is fighting to save his campaign after placing fourth in a new HEADLINESFOREVER/University of New Hampshire poll of the first GOP primary state, also tried an attack on Trump.

DeSantis said on Sunday’s “State of the Union” that the 77-year-old GOP frontrunner Donald Trump would be older on January 20, 2025, than Joe Biden was on January 20, 2021.

No one nearing their 80s should hold the office of president. That’s simply my opinion, but I think Joe Biden has demonstrated that quality. Time’s father can’t be stopped. DeSantis also said that Trump “is not exempt from any of that.” I’m at the height of my powers. I will be starting on Day 1. I intend to serve two terms, accomplish great things, and get the country back on track.

It’s hard to imagine such a thing happening. The Florida governor is hoping that a strong showing in Iowa will help him regain national momentum after initially being seen as the most formidable Republican contender to Trump.

In his attempt to tar both probable party nominees with the same brush, DeSantis highlighted one of the ironies of the 2024 campaign. Polls show that voters would rather not have to choose between Trump, who turns 81 on Monday, and Biden, who turns 81 the following Monday, in 2020. Both men are likely to be nominated, despite substantial resistance from inside their respective parties.

However, the Florida governor won over one Iowa voter on Sunday when the man told him that he agreed with the governor’s argument that he should be allowed to serve two terms after watching his interview on “State of the Union.” John Walker, a voter, told Kit Maher of HEADLINESFOREVER that he still has a lot of respect for the former president, but that he isn’t thrilled with Trump because “there’s a huge amount of uncertainty with Trump, and I don’t like that.” Walker went on: “I don’t like to be uncertain. We have no idea if he will be released from jail or not.

Haley and DeSantis are aware that millions of the ex-president’s fans believe his fraudulent assertions that he won in 2020. Many GOP supporters, including those who say they would consider voting for an alternative candidate, have pointed to Trump’s criminal indictments as proof of political persecution on the part of the Biden administration at events where the GOP is seeking support.

There’s not much interest in bringing Trump down.

Candidates like former Vice President Mike Pence or former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie – who have more openly criticised Trump over his alleged illegalities, including over his attempt to overturn the 2020 election and his handling of classified documents – are either already out of the race or struggling to make a mark nationally. Haley and DeSantis want to keep their jobs, so they’re trying to avoid Trump’s mistakes. Their campaigns are severely limited, but they aren’t holding him accountable in a way that could erode his grasp on the nomination battle.
What Trump’s second term as president would be like.

This weekend, Trump provided further evidence that he has not modified his views in the nearly three years since he left the White House. While campaigning in Iowa, he made petty attacks directed at Haley and DeSantis, called Biden “stupid” and “incompetent,” and said he had no business being president.

The former president’s unrestrained mouth isn’t only foreshadowing a tumultuous second term; it’s also causing issues in the courts, where judges have issued gag orders.

In the federal election subversion criminal case against Trump, his legal team will argue on Monday that one such order is unlawful.

The order was ordered by District Judge Tanya Chutkan to prevent Trump from verbally and online harassing court officials, potential witnesses, and special counsel Jack Smith and his team. The former president has stated that this legislation is an attempt to silence his presidential campaign, which is a violation of his First Amendment rights.

The gag order, which has been temporarily halted pending appeals, highlights an abiding reality about the ex-president that is expected to help define the 2024 campaign – his scorn for the rules and customs that govern politics and the legal system. His New York civil fraud trial has temporarily lifted a similar gag order. The judge who gave it, Arthur Engoron, hit on a critical point about the ex-president when he asked Trump’s attorney two weeks ago if he could control his client. Trump’s impulsiveness has never been controlled by a lawyer, White House official, campaign adviser, political party, or any other institution. It’s one of the factors that could make winning the upcoming election and a second term as president extremely risky.

The former president can’t wait to get started on a potential general election showdown. He urged voters in Iowa to give him a landslide victory in the January caucuses so that his primary opponents would be forced to drop out.

“We have to give a great signal and then maybe these folks just say, ‘OK, it’s over now. In other words, “it’s over.” We need to put an end to this. Trump claimed this in a speech when he harshly criticised the president over his China policy following his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping last week.


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