While everyone else is still looking for the starting line, or trying to tie their sneakers, Donald Trump is already making the race’s first big turn.
The former President remains the singular, presumptive GOP nominee for 2024, thanks to a somewhat-early but completely expected announcement back in November.
Now, with some in the Republican Party beginning to show some signs of potential plans to challenge him, the former Commander in Chief is shifting his tactics accordingly.
Former President Donald Trump is planning to hold his first public campaign event of the year in South Carolina, in what aides are portraying as a first step into a more public phase of his 2024 White House run.
Trump is slated to make an appearance in late January in Columbia, S.C. It will not be a rally, his advisers said, but will be a more “intimate” event where he will roll out his leadership operation in a state which hosts a key early Republican primary contest. Trump’s advisers are casting the plans as part of a gradual build-out of the former president’s campaign, following a relatively private month-and-a-half since a November launch that coincided with the holiday season.
Where large, raucous rallies build enthusiasm among the base, these smaller, less rowdy events will allow Trump and his team to get up close and personal with a more influential crowd with a more concentrated message.
The Trump team saw the shift as a proper evolution in strategy.
During a Wednesday interview with POLITICO, senior Trump advisers Brian Jack, Chris LaCivita and Susie Wiles pushed back on the idea that Trump had so far run a low-energy effort, pointing to his opening of a campaign headquarters in West Palm Beach, Fla., his activity in key primary states over the course of the 2022 midterm election and the initial build-out of senior staff.
They said the forthcoming South Carolina event, among other moves, was evidence that the former president was taking important steps to set himself up for the GOP nomination during the opening days of the race.
“Not all that occurs in the campaign is done in the public eye … There’s a level of expectation that is maybe pushed by people that don’t view the campaign in maybe the most positive light,” said LaCivita. “You have to husband your resources, you have to plan and you have to be ready, and so all of that — we don’t advertise those aspects of campaign building, of campaign organizing.”
Polling has thus far shown that Trump has but one other potential GOP candidate to worry about, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, but the Sunshine State lawmaker has yet to make any public insinuation that he’s even running.