Former President Donald Trump declared Saturday that he is “more devoted” than ever to regaining the White House, as he visited the campaign trail for the first time since announcing his third presidential attempt in November.
Trump claimed he was “more upset” about the country’s direction before making a second swing in South Carolina, vowing to come to the first-in-the-nation primary state “many, many more times” as he seeks to repeat his first-place result in the Granite State in 2016.
“This is it,” Trump told New Hampshire Republicans at their annual convention in Salem. “We’re starting right here as a presidential candidate.”
Meanwhile, in South Carolina, Trump claimed that his 2024 campaign would “be about the future” in a speech that avoided repeating the lies about the 2020 race that he has promoted for the past two years.
“The theme of this campaign will be the future. This campaign will focus on topics. “Joe Biden has put America on the fast track to ruin and destruction, and we will ensure that he does not get four more years,” the former president declared at a modest ceremony in Columbia’s Statehouse.
Trump took aim at prospective 2024 presidential candidate Ron DeSantis on the way to South Carolina, telling reporters on board his jet that the Florida governor and his team were “trying to rewrite history” with their Covid-19 pandemic response. He also termed his Republican opponent’s future presidential run “extremely disloyal.”
Trump also stated that Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina who served as his ambassador to the United Nations, called him recently to notify him that she is considering running for president in 2024.
“I chatted to her for a little bit, and I said, ‘Look, you know, if you want to run, go by your heart,” Trump recalled. “She has stated openly, ‘I would never run against my president, he was a terrific president.'”
Trump stated that he told Haley she “should do it.”
Haley, who just relocated her senior advisers to Charleston, is thought to be considering the timing of a campaign launch at this time because she does not want to be the first to take on Trump on her own. She stated in 2021 that she would not run against Trump if he ran for President again in 2024.
HEADLINESFOREVER has requested response from DeSantis and Haley.
Returning to the trail
Earlier Saturday, Trump’s team issued a fundraising email proclaiming that “no other candidate is working this early to get every last vote,” and praising himself as the “first Republican presidential candidate to campaign in the two early primary states.”
Trump said in New Hampshire that outgoing state GOP Chairman Stephen Stepanek will join his campaign as a senior adviser.
Stepanek served as the top Republican official in New Hampshire for two terms after co-chairing Trump’s first presidential campaign. He joins Trump’s team as the three-time presidential candidate’s support dwindles among state officials searching for a new face to lead their party’s ticket.
Trump defended his months-long absence on the campaign trail in Salem, criticising media coverage that raised doubts about his campaign’s lethargic start, with him living in Florida since starting his race in November. He stressed that his 2024 campaign will not employ “prevent defence,” a method adopted by a club with a late-game lead in American football.
“‘He’s not doing rallies, maybe he’s lost that step,’ they said.” “I’m more enraged and committed than I’ve ever been,” Trump remarked.
In New Hampshire, Trump also promoted his new proposal to prohibit federal funding for schools that “advance critical racial theory or left-wing gender ideology,” as well as his idea to have parents pick school administrators, which he called the “ultimate form of local sovereignty.”
The second pit stop of the day
Meanwhile, senior advisors Brian Jack and Chris LaCivita, as well as former White House social media director Dan Scavino, were on hand for Trump’s second campaign event Saturday in Columbia, South Carolina.
The gathering had all the trappings of a presidential event, with his podium stationed beneath the Statehouse rotunda and flanked by American flags. The Trump campaign chose to make it appear that way on purpose, hoping to profit on their candidate’s unique position as a former president, especially as he prepares to face rivals in the coming weeks, including, potentially, Haley.
The South Carolina House chamber was just across the hallway from Trump’s declaration, and its Republican lawmakers have treated the former president’s 2024 campaign with a combination of excitement and trepidation.
While some have enthusiastically embraced his bid, others told HEADLINESFOREVER ahead of Saturday’s event that they were waiting to see how the GOP primary field formed, particularly if Haley and Sen. Tim Scott – two native South Carolinians considering White House runs – decided to challenge the former president.
On Saturday, Trump visited South Carolina to reveal his campaign’s state leadership team, which includes Gov. Henry McMaster and Sen. Lindsey Graham. He stopped short of falsely alleging the 2020 election was stolen during the event, but he did pledge to “establish electoral integrity” and stated, “People have to believe in elections.”
Trump won the South Carolina primary by ten points in 2016, and he expects to repeat the feat this season. Nonetheless, according to one person familiar with the effort, DeSantis, his main prospective opponent, is already working to create his own allies in the state.
“He already has a very tight-knit circle, and they are making calls boosting him up,” this person stated.
The Department of Justice is still investigating Trump, and special counsel Jack Smith is leading criminal investigations into the retention of confidential materials at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago property and elements of the January 6, 2021, insurgency at the US Capitol. Both investigations point to Trump’s actions.
Trump’s Saturday campaign rallies follow recent revelations that secret materials were also discovered at addresses linked to both Biden and former Vice President Mike Pence. Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a separate special counsel to oversee the inquiry into the secret documents discovered at Biden’s home and former private office during the Obama administration.
Facebook parent firm Meta stated earlier this week that it would restore Trump’s accounts on Facebook and Instagram in the coming weeks, just over two years after suspending him in the aftermath of the January 6 attack.