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Analysis: Republicans are desperate to keep Trump from announcing for president before the midterms

“Yeah, I think we’d like to just kind of keep the accelerator down and push hard into November,” Sen. John Thune, the second-ranking Republican in the chamber, said Monday. “I think we’ve got, you know, the issues set and everything the political landscapes, environment’s favorable. And I think the fewer disruptions obviously, the better, but, you know, I don’t have any control over what he may or may not do or when he may do it.”

The message is clear: Don’t screw this up for us.

Thune’s warning comes amid increasing signs that Trump is itching to announce a third candidacy — and to do so before the midterms.

“Trump has told associates he is eager to launch another presidential campaign as early as this month to capitalize on President Joe Biden’s increasingly dismal poll numbers and put his potential GOP rivals on notice. … One GOP source familiar with those conversations was told that Trump was considering announcing as soon as the first week of July, while others in his orbit cautioned that he does not currently have the infrastructure in place for a major campaign announcement and ‘doesn’t want this to be a dud,’ as a person close to Trump described it.”

Thune’s warning is meant to slow Trump’s roll, to suggest that for the good of the party — which looks poised to have a very good election, especially on the House side — he should shelve his own ambitions in the near term.

The problem with that logic, of course, is that Donald Trump cares first, second and last about Donald Trump. He has shown, repeatedly, during both his time in and out of office, that he is not terribly concerned with what’s best for the Republican Party. Rather, he is uniquely focused on what’s best for him.

And here’s what Trump sees:

1) Joe Biden is at a low ebb in polling. A New York Times/Siena College poll released Monday showed just 33% of voters approve of the job Biden is doing in office. His overall job approval among Americans in CNN’s Poll of Polls as of late June was only as marginally better 38%. Trump is a creature of the moment — even more so than most politicians — and sees a wounded opponent and an opportunity.
2) Ron DeSantis is gaining steam. No longer is Trump the unquestioned leader atop the Republican Party. The Florida governor is the buzziest candidate in the potential 2024 field. He is raising money at a staggering clip and a recent New Hampshire poll showed he and Trump in a statistical dead heat. The New York Times/Siena College poll showed Trump leading DeSantis nationally 49% to 25%, and nearly half of those who say they plan to vote in the 2024 Republican primary indicate they want someone other than Trump to run. (No other potential GOP presidential contender cracked double digits in the survey.) And unlike other Republicans falling all over themselves for Trump’s endorsement, DeSantis hasn’t sought the former President’s nod in his reelection race this fall. Trump, ever mindful of any slippage in his dominance, may want to step all over DeSantis’ momentum with an announcement sooner rather than later.

3) The January 6 committee is doing damage. Trump is obsessed with the House select committee investigating January 6. On Tuesday morning — in advance of the panel’s public hearing later in the day — Trump took to Truth Social, his social media platform, to blast the committee. He called the members of the committee “Political Hacks and Thugs” and said they were “the same lunatics that drove the country ‘crazy’ with their lies and made up stories like RUSSIA, RUSSIA, RUSSIA.” In a separate post on Truth Social Tuesday, Trump suggested the panel was “formed solely for the purpose of bringing down my ‘numbers.'” (And before you ask, no, I have zero idea why the word “numbers” is in quotes.) What Trump’s hyper-focus on the committee’s actions tells you is he is well aware that these public hearings have not gone well for him. And that they are impacting the way at least some people see both him and his role on January 6.

All of this is what is driving Trump’s potential interest in getting in the 2024 race sooner than later. It doesn’t mean, of course, that he will wind up announcing before November. But what you should always remember is that Trump is going to do what he believes is best for Trump, the rest of the Republican Party be damned.

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