Will Trump run in 2024? A fascinating clue from Don Jr.

If Donald Trump decides to run for president again in 2024, there is little doubt that the GOP nomination is his for the taking.  His support among the party faithful is so overwhelming that it is impossible to see anyone else winning primaries or caucuses.  So the question is whether or not he wants to run.  Like all good showmen, Trump understands that suspense holds the public's attention, so don't look for him to clear things up for us by offering a definite yes or no anytime soon.  He knows that if he were to announce he is not running, there would be far less attention paid to him, and that is not Trump's idea of a good thing.

Yet if Trump has inwardly decided that he doesn't want to put himself and his family through the hell of a presidential campaign and a possible four more years in office, he needs to help his successor as the GOP nominee have the best possible chance of winning.  If he has a strong preference for who the nominee ought to be and if he wants the role of kingmaker (is there any doubt that he would want such power if he declines to run?), he needs to let people know without being explicit about it.  The worst possible outcome for Trump would be for him to express a preference and have that preferred candidate collapse and fail to get the nomination.  He needs deniability, even as he signals donors quietly about where to send their money.

That's my speculative perspective on what Donald Trump, Jr. just said.  Tyler O'Neil of PJ Media:

Donald Trump's heir apparent has named a political heir apparent for his father, if the former president doesn't run in 2024. Donald Trump Jr. did not say whether or not his father will launch another White House bid in three years, but he did name a Republican he would support if the 45th president doesn't run for re-election.

When The Washington Examiner asked Trump Jr. if his father will run in 2024, he replied with a laugh, "You'll have to ask him."

So the Examiner turned to the potential primary field without Donald Trump.

"If I'm going to be totally objective about it, I think, you know, what [Governor] Ron DeSantis has done in Florida is outstanding," Trump Jr. said.

"I mean, he didn't fall for the narrative. I think he's learned, perhaps through watching [Donald] Trump, you know, what the media will try to do to you if you do take those kinds of stances," Trump Jr. explained. "I think he's been proven, you know, virtually 100% correct on those things."

The former president's son said that DeSantis has "certainly a very bright continuing future, whether that's with my father, whether that's — if my father doesn't run — on his own."

"I think he's a case study right now," Trump Jr. said of the Florida governor. "We need more people willing to take that on like he has."

I've independently come to the same conclusion.  DeSantis has an incredible track record of being spot on, leading Florida with lots of courage, shrugging off the media pressures, staying true to conservative principles, and winning over voters.  Unless he screws up, has a bad scandal, or unforeseen events push someone else to the fore, DeSantis is the obvious choice if Trump doesn't run.  And my sense is that Trump is enjoying not having the hassles of the presidency all the time.

I don't think Don Jr. would have said this without running it by Dad.  So I think that Trump Sr. wanted this message, this signal, to get out.

While some may disagree, I think that DeSantis would add to Trump's vote total with people who appreciate Trump's policy successes (a booming economy, stable prices, the Abraham Accords and Jerusalem embassy, the border wall and controlled border, and much more) but who accepted the media's caricatures of him and would not give him their votes.  DeSantis is just as tough, but he comes across as not brash, not impulsive, and almost a bit dull.  Measured strikes me as a good word to describe DeSantis's style.

For now, at least, I hope Trump decides not to run and DeSantis heads the 2024 ticket.  If Trump does run, I will support him 100% and hope cheating is kept within bounds so as to permit a legitimate victory.  In that case, I hope DeSantis is his running mate.  But the three years until the GOP Convention is an eternity in politics, so things could change.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore (cropped), CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

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