Twice-impeached former U.S. President Donald Trump threw his red ball cap back into the ring on Tuesday — what some observers saw as a form of judicial self-protection and a brazen display of political ambition .
“America’s comeback begins now,” Trump said on Tuesday, announcing his long-telegraphed intention to pursue the 2024 Republican nomination.
“To make America great and honorable again, I declare my candidacy for President of the United States.”
He did it in the gilded ballroom of his private Mar-a-Lago country club stronghold in Palm Beach, Florida, with a podium surrounded by an American flag. Dozens of mobile phone screens held high in the crowd captured Trump with his wife, Melania, standing beside him as he entered.
Now comes the hard part for America’s most notorious commander-in-chief.
— He was impeached and acquitted twice, the first time in 2020, because Democrats believed he was trying to trade aid for Ukraine in exchange for support for Joe Biden’s son Hunter investigation, the second in 2021, and he is accused of inciting the Jan. 6 rebellion.
— A House committee investigating last year’s chaos on Capitol Hill has all but pinned the blame squarely on the former president, accusing him of ignoring the dangers facing lawmakers and Vice President Mike Pence and irritating supporters on Twitter while he has been fighting to Support to overthrow Biden’s election victory.
— He is under federal investigation for his concerted efforts to deprive Biden of his 2020 victory and for smuggling hundreds of documents, many of which are considered top secret, from the White House to Mar-a-Lago.
Political experts say his candidacy, especially entering the race so early, may be part of a tactic to trip up his legitimate suitors.
“There’s no set law on whether (presidential candidates) can be investigated,” said Aaron Ettinger, a political science professor at Carleton University in Ottawa.
“All of this exists within the norms of democracy in America, and right now we’re in uncharted territory. So he’s enjoying the benefits of murky waters.
In an abbreviated version of his usual rally performance — he tapped into Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless America,” his unofficial theme song — Trump made no mention of his presumptive opponent, Florida. Governor Ron DeSantis.
But in a speech of just over an hour, brief by Trump standards, he hinted at a possible strategy for a future nomination fight: portraying DeSantis as a career politician with party allegiances priority over voters.
“This is not the task of politicians or traditional candidates,” Trump said. “This is the task of a great movement that embodies the courage, faith and spirit of the American people.”
As he often does, he mentions Canada by name when he cites the 2018 US-Mexico-Canada agreement, which replaced NAFTA: as he describes it, “the worst ever trade agreement”.
He’s also lingering on issues of energy independence and fuel prices — an issue that often catches the eye of those north of the border, especially since the Alberta government went all out to sell Canadian oil and gas to the current Biden administration earlier this year.
It also raises concerns that the Trump administration will run roughshod over the current White House’s efforts to combat climate change — a threat Trump has dismissed by comparing the threat of nuclear war to the prospect of “an eighth of an inch” rise in sea levels. “200 to 300 years in the future.”
Even now, the U.S. is reluctant to expand domestic fossil fuel production, bewildering foreign countries that “seriously hate us,” he said.
“We beg them for oil, we have more liquid gold under our feet than they or any other country – we don’t use it because we’re going to them? It’s crazy, what’s going on here. We can’t let it go on go down.”
During his four-year tenure, Trump appeared uninterested in building a constructive relationship with Canada’s federal government. He frequently complained about access to Canada’s dairy market, publicly complained about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and then-foreign minister Chrystia Freeland, and imposed punitive tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum producers months after the USMCA was completed .
Eitinger warned that a Trump presidency would be “a terrible situation for Canada.”
“Canada has been benignly ignored by the Biden administration,” Ettinger said, adding that a re-election of Trump as president would be “a dire situation” for leaders north of the border.
“Trump’s return to the White House has put uncertainty back at the center of North American relations. That’s not good for Canada because when access to the U.S. market is uncertain, the Canadian economy suffers.”
In recent days, Trump has appeared less invincible than he once was.
Republicans — until recently, either backed or kept quiet when it came to the idea of Trump as their nominee — have been reconsidering since voters withdrew their support in last week’s midterm elections.
For them, the best news to come on Nov. 8 was DeSantis, who has yet to announce his intentions but is widely seen as the presumptive Republican candidate for the crown, winning re-election by a convincing 20 percentage points. competitors.
Media reports suggest that DeSantis himself has done little to dispel that perception.
“At the end of the day, I would just tell people to go and check the scoreboard last Tuesday night,” he said Tuesday before Trump’s announcement when asked about the former president’s criticism.
Several recent polls show DeSantis on track to overtake Trump, or even surpass him. That appeared to be a relief to some Republicans, especially those who accused the Trump-approved candidate of underperforming.
Some major Republican donors and Trump allies, including Blackstone CEO Steven Schwartzman and hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin, have made it clear they want generational change.
“You have two players with important constituencies who are both politically claiming to be the next leader and going all out,” Ettinger said.
“It’s going to be a civil war within the Republican Party.”
—James McCarten, Canadian Press
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