While President Donald Trump has hinted that he may launch a campaign for 2024 after losing a second term against Democratic rival Joe Biden, apart from retaking the highest office in the country, a re-run for president could offer several other advantages.
By becoming a candidate for public office, Trump will continue to be able to raise funds, travel around the country, hold mass rallies for his supporters and continue to pay staff. He would likely also continue to receive leniency from social media restrictions that may mark some of his riskier tweets and affect access to his account.
Mr. Trump has not shied away from hinting that he is interested in running again in four years, and has even refused to give in to Biden, who was considered the winner in last month’s election.
“It has been an amazing four years. We are trying to achieve another four years. Otherwise, we’ll see you again in four years,” Trump told a cheering audience during a Christmas party at the White House on a video that one of the guests showed in social media.
Trump, 74, would be 78 years old in the 2024 election cycle and, if successful, would beat Biden’s record as the oldest person to win a presidential election by five months.
It is not unusual for a president to lose a re-election bid and win a second term four years later. Grover Cleveland served from 1885 to 1889 and from 1893 to 1897, after losing to and then defeating Benjamin Harrison.
But it is unusual for a modern president to publicly plan such a presence.
“It shows his chronic need to be the center of attention at all times,” David Lubin, chairman of the Department of Government at the School of Public Affairs of the American University, told Washington Newsday. “He can’t bear to have the spotlight fall for even a moment on the man who defeated him.
Trump’s 2020 campaign did not immediately respond to Washington Newsday’s request to comment on the president’s future intentions.
But Lubin and other experts consulted by Washington Newsday for this story questioned whether Trump was serious about another election campaign and would seriously pursue the 2024 election cycle.
“Is he really planning to run for president in four years?” Lubin said. “He is someone who likes to keep people in the dark.”
Lubin added another thought to Trump: “Does he really want to risk going down as a two-time loser?”
Chris Haynes, professor of political science at the University of New Haven, told Washington Newsday that any early statement by Trump – some speculate that he might make an announcement during Biden’s inauguration – would not necessarily mean a real candidacy for president and could amount to a “fake statement.
“He always plays fast and loose with the truth,” Haynes said. “I don’t think he wants to be president again.”
And the question is what Trump will do in the four years of his presidency. He has shown interest in cable news and has often criticized even normally Trump-friendly stations like Fox News.
“I feel Donald Trump would be much happier if he were a media mogul and could play kingmaker,” Ben Berger, professor of political science at Swarthmore College and executive director of the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility, told Washington Newsday. “The idea of others kissing the ring would have to be very attractive to someone with a penchant for power, and it would have none of the disadvantages of being president.
Trump, who has declared himself a resident of Florida after avoiding his hometown of New York City and is expected to move to his resort in Mar-a-Lago after January 20, has raised about $170 million since Election Day after sending nonstop e-mails and text messages to his supporters, propagating several fruitless challenges to the election results. Much of this money is now going to a new political action committee that he has formed as the leadership PAC, which allows for a wide range of spending.
“It is incredible,” Lubin said of the booty.
Trump would also enjoy special protection from his favorite medium, Twitter, if he is a “candidate. According to Twitter’s policy, tweets from world leaders and candidates or nominees for public office could be “in the public interest to allow people to see tweets that would otherwise be turned off”.
Many of Trump’s recent tweets have been flagged as tweets containing false or misleading information, but they have not been removed.
Trump, a flamboyant New York City businessman who used his business acumen to become the star of The Apprentice in the heyday of reality television, was considered an outsider when he ran for president in 2016, but he fought off a number of key Republican candidates to secure the GOP nomination of Democrat Hillary Clinton.
“When he first ran, in my opinion, he did not necessarily expect or want to win. It was a great marketing idea,” Lubin said.
Re-running a candidacy for the GOP nomination would likely push others hoping for a chance at the White House into the background, including some he will beat in 2016.
Those potential candidates – many of whom have remained close allies of Trump over the past four years despite disagreements and traded insults – would likely stay close to Trump and not challenge him for the GOP nomination.
“It freezes all donors, and it freezes all candidates who are thinking of running in 2024,” Haynes said. “They don’t want to check him off, so they don’t want to be presumptuous and let him go into a tweet-storm over them.