Trump has announced he is running for POTUS in 2024, but you would be excused for not knowing the low-key, dull speech even happened.
Donald Trump is quickly becoming passé. In case you hadn’t seen page 6 of your local newspaper, the former president announced the other day that he is running for POTUS in 2024.
This should be huge news, but it turned out to be something of a damp squib. Indeed, FOX News didn’t bother to show the whole of his speech, and even C-SPAN cut the live feed halfway through. That’s saying something. The speech was, it must be said, one of the most boring Trump has given in a long line of public outings. There was even news that some attendees tried to duck out of the rather dull event but were refused the ability to leave the Mar-a-Lago venue.
Trump had announced he was to make the speech ahead of losing almost all of his endorsed candidates in the recent midterm elections. This meant what he was on paper to say would have been altered at the last minute.
“His ‘heart’ wasn’t in it…. It felt like he had to make the announcement…so he just plowed forward,” explained former Obama staffer and Pod Save America host Tommy Vietor. “He didn’t want to be there. The people in the room didn’t want to be there. FOX News didn’t even want to cover it. The fact that Don Junior didn’t show up for it is notable. The fact that all these people tried to leave a Trump speech and could not leave is funny but it is also a metaphor for the last 7 years of our life. You just cannot get out of the doors of Mar-a-Lago. We are stuck in Hotel Mar-a-Lago.”
It certainly said something that neither Donald Trump Jr nor Ivanka Trump were there. Moreover, there were no notable Republican politicians present.
Nothing captured the essence of the non-event better than this brutal banner at the bottom of the formerly Trump-happy New York Post the following day:
What could be behind Trump’s lackluster performance?
There are several reasons why his speech failed to hit the spot. Any spot. Here are six reasons it bombed:
First, it was mainly a speech off the autocue. Perhaps because this was such an important moment that he was convinced to read from an actual speech written for him. This is not Trump’s forte and his speechwriters are not up to much. As Jon Favreau, former speechwriter for Obama claims, “The problem is, he hates reading speeches because Stephen Miller is a terrible, terrible speechwriter who has never learned to write in Trump’s voice, ever, and it shows. With Trump, you either get low-energy and on-message or high-energy and deranged.”
Second, the news had already come in about the midterm failures, and it was hard to get excited about those results. A few edits were made to the speech, but to no avail.
Third, Trump is no longer exciting, no longer fresh. He’s not the new kid on the block, the upstart challenger. He has been president and it didn’t end well, as the electorate has recently let him know in no uncertain terms. In 2016, he was able to energize crowds with a sense of a revolutionary newness that he will never again be able to achieve.
Fourth, he had nothing to say. There was nothing of substance in his speech. The platitudes about uniting were clearly the words of speechwriters, but, past that, there was nothing positive. This was something of which the Republican Party as a whole was accused in the midterms. For those campaigns, it was all about trashing the 2020 election still, or Democratic candidates, but not offering anything positive of meaningful substance. Simply put, there was no policy
As a result of this lack of message, there was a lack of coherence. Or, in other words, it was something of a mess.
Fifth, the GOP media establishment and his political allies are starting to turn away from him. There is no way that Trump wouldn’t be aware of the fact that FOX News appears to now have the remit to drop Trump and favor DeSantis in a project of GOP existential preservation. This will surely have taken the wind out of his sails. Even though he wouldn’t have been aware of the TV stations switching away from his speech live on air, he would be acutely aware of his optics otherwise, especially given the resounding lack of political personnel at his speech other than Roger Stone, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, and Devin Nunes (who is now head of Trump’s own Truth Social).
And even though Jared Kuschner put in an appearance, Trump’s daughter Ivanka was conspicuous in her absence:
Insider, citing an unnamed source, reported that Donald Trump Jr was on a “hunting trip in the Mountain West” and “couldn’t get a flight out to make it back for the speech because of bad weather.” The only Congressperson present at the speech was the infamous North Carolina Rep Madison Cawthorn, who lost his primary in early 2022. He will be leaving Congress in January.
Even Donald Trump can’t be so blind to the opinion and actions of others not to recognize the reality of his dwindling support and, with it, his evaporating relevance.
Sixth, Trump’s “heart” was not in it, perhaps because the campaign is a deeply utilitarian and practical means to an end. Trump doesn’t want to become president out of a sense of enormous duty to his beloved country, to improve the lives of the voters. Not at all. Rather, Trump wants to become POTUS to avoid prison.
Merrick Garland has just announced a special counsel that will lead probes into both the interference with the election and the confidential documents scandal.
Trump’s days of freedom might well be numbered, and he could well see the presidency as his route to continued regular citizenship. It’s not, in surveying all of the election results and the entirety of his predicament, that he wants to run, but more that he simply has to run.