While returning from an election eve rally in Ohio, Donald Trump warned his rival Ron DeSantis that it would pay off if he decided to run against the former president.
“He can hurt himself pretty bad,” he told a small group of reporters who traveled with him in his refurbished 757, dubbed “Trump Force One.”
In an extended interview, he said he could see a red wave building in the middle of the term that would return Congress to the Republican Party, but said he wanted to replace Mitch McConnell as the Republican leader in the Senate.
He even laid out what a hypothetical 2024 campaign would look like, with a mixture of anger over the outcome of the 2020 election and greatest achievement scores, from rebuilding the army to building a border wall.
An hour ago, he delivered his biggest hint yet that he’s back again in front of a spirited crowd at Dayton International Airport. He said he’ll make an important announcement at his Mar-a-Lago headquarters next week.
Sitting in a cream leather armchair, he said later, his intentions were clear.
“I think everyone knows,” he said.
For months, aides argued about the best time to launch a campaign. Some wanted to go early – in June or July – to avoid a challenge from the up-and-coming DeSantis.
Donald Trump laid out his thoughts on a hypothetical 2024 race and said he would easily beat Ron DeSantis for the nomination, speaking to reporters Monday night.
Trump addressed a crowd at Dayton International Airport, Ohio, on Monday evening. During his return, he warned Florida Governor Ron DeSantis not to think twice about running for the White House
Trump spoke to a small group of reporters aboard the refurbished 757 Monday night. The leather seats feature the Trump family crest on the headrest
A traditional school of thought insisted on waiting until after the midterm elections to best read the country’s mood.
But insiders said Trump himself would have preferred to launch ahead of the November election, seeing it as the best way to generate interest.
On Monday night, Trump admitted he considered making an ad in Ohio — but dropped the idea, fearing it would overshadow other Republicans running for office.
I did not want to interfere in the elections. “I thought it might,” he said.
I was thinking of doing that tonight. They all wanted it tonight. But they were very happy when I said the fifteenth.
Everyone cheered. But I just don’t want to do anything to interfere… I don’t want to get all this publicity…”
DeSantis has emerged as a major challenger to Trump for the Republican nomination this summer, playing a key role in the country’s culture wars. He regularly tops polls of Republican voters when asked who they want to run in 2024 — if Trump himself doesn’t run.
Former President Donald Trump called on his supporters to throw a red wave in the midterm elections on Tuesday, as he delivered the eve of the election speech in the critical swing state of Ohio.
Trump and his wife Melania voted at the Morton and Barbara Mandel Recreation Center in Palm Beach, Fla., on Tuesday. He says he will make a big announcement next week
On Saturday, Trump experimented with his offensive line, calling Florida Gov. “Ron D. Sanctimonios.”
But Trump downplayed any notion of a fight — even as a giant screen was in front of him in the cabin of his plane tuned to NewsMax analyzing the match.
“There’s no quarreling with me,” he said over a round of Diet Coke. “I’m ahead in the polls, which people hate to say.
“I don’t think I’ll have any problem defeating him.”
During his rally earlier, Trump was happy to show the polls on a big screen, showing the former president winning with 70 percent Republican support, and more than 10 percent in favor of DeSantis.
I don’t know he’s running. “I think if he ran he would hurt himself really bad, I really think he could hurt himself badly,” Trump said.
Supporters turned out in their thousands Monday night despite the cold in Ohio
He said the competition could sow damaging divisions.
“I don’t think it will be beneficial for the party,” he added.
He came back to the topic later when asked which Republicans might run.
“I don’t know if DeSantis will run,” he said, before hinting that he would be quick to attack.
But if he runs, I can tell you things you won’t be very grateful to him for. I know more about him other than maybe his wife – who is really working for his campaign.
Trump also turned his opinion to Congress after the midterm elections, saying Republicans should immediately turn their attention to tackling crime and border security if they seize power.
He acknowledged that McConnell’s removal would wait, though he did speak with Sen. Rick Scott as a potential majority leader.
JD Vance spoke before Trump arrived Monday night. He called for taking measures to tackle inflation by increasing oil and gas production to lower energy prices
Marjorie Taylor Greene also appeared during the Ohio rally
’ And I think he probably will. He had a lot of support. Trump said a lot of people are upset with Mitch.
I think we’ll probably have to live with him for a couple of years. If I run and if I win I will say don’t send me any legislation if he is the leader.
“And he’ll be out in two minutes.”
But on Monday night, the most sustained applause from some 5,000 Dayton International Airport supporters came not for a line about the midterm elections, but rather because it raised the prospect of a third White House run.
“I’m going to be doing a very big announcement on Tuesday, November 15th in Mar-a-Lago,” he said.
Speculation was rife that he would use his election eve rally to announce his candidacy, but he added that he did not want “anything to detract from the importance of tomorrow”.
It was another teaser for the fans, after a day earlier had kept his supporters on the edge of their seats.
“I’ll probably have to do it again, but stay tuned,” he said at a rally Sunday night.
“Stay tuned tomorrow night in the great state of Ohio.”
He outlined some of his campaign themes during his return Monday night, saying he will continue to argue that the 2020 election was stolen from him — even though his claims have been dismissed by multiple courts.
I think I will always talk about that. I actually think it energizes our base. People who are on my side, he said.
“Number one, if I don’t talk about it, I’m going to lose a lot of votes.”
But he also said that was only part of the reason he spoke.
“Above all,” he said, “it’s all true.”