Donald Trump said on the eve of US midterm elections that he would be making a “big announcement” next week, all but confirming his widely anticipated third White House bid that he’s been teasing for weeks.
“I’m going to be making a very big announcement on Tuesday, Nov. 15 at Mar-a-Lago,” he said at a Monday night rally ostensibly for Republican US Senate candidate JD Vance in Dayton, Ohio. “We want nothing to distract from the importance of tomorrow.”
But Vance, one of Trump’s endorsed candidates in key battleground states, took the stage for only a small fraction of Trump’s nearly 100-minute rally, where he painted a picture of an American decline that only he could salvage.
The former president’s appearance Monday night played into heightened attention around a possible declaration of his 2024 plans. Much of that intrigue has been stoked by Trump himself, who urged his followers on Sunday to “stay tuned” to his appearance on behalf of Vance — one of dozens of GOP midterm candidates who has received his endorsement.
But he waited until the final moments of the rally to only say that he would make an announcement about whether to run next week.
Advisers have long urged Trump to hold off on any announcement until after the Tuesday elections, in which Republicans are favored to take at least one chamber of Congress. But his incessant teasing in recent days, capped off by his strongest hint yet of an forthcoming run on Monday night, still threatens to crowd out GOP candidates in the final hours before voting concludes.
Some prominent Republicans on social media had egged on a possible Trump announcement.
US Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida, a Trump ally, fueled the speculation that Trump could make an announcement at the Ohio rally with a tweet on Monday morning saying the former president should announce on Monday night.
“Trump deserves all the credit for this wave election & announcing tonight he will seize it,” Gaetz said in his tweet.
He has used the midterm election cycle to tighten his grip on the GOP, endorsing candidates in local, state and federal elections. But his involvement has also clouded Republican prospects for taking both chambers of Congress on Tuesday.
Several of his endorsed US Senate candidates are in hotly contested races. In Georgia, former football star Herschel Walker is neck-and-neck in a race against incumbent Democrat US Senator Raphael Warnock. In Pennsylvania, celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz is deadlocked against Democrat John Fetterman.
In Nevada, Republican Adam Laxalt is in a tight race against incumbent Democrat US Senator Cathy Cortez Masto. Polls show Vance in a closer-than-expected contest versus US Representative Tim Ryan, though Vance has widened his lead in recent weeks.
An announcement by Trump, 76, would make it more likely that US voters will face a rematch between the former Republican president and Democratic President Joe Biden -- two elderly White men who, polls show, are both unpopular among a majority of Americans. Biden, who turns 80 this month, has said he plans to run for re-election and has indicated he would especially welcome the opportunity to again defeat Trump.
Trump also remains a historically divisive political figure and would enter the race facing multiple federal and state investigations.
At least 225 Republican candidates for governor, attorney general, secretary of state and Congress on the ballot Tuesday either said the 2020 election was stolen or cast doubt on its legitimacy, including 10 who were outside the Capitol during the deadly Jan. 6 attack.
But he could face a messy primary campaign as other Republicans, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and once-loyal lieutenants such as former Vice President Mike Pence and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have been laying the groundwork for potential White House bids.
Pence plans a nationwide tour to promote his book being released on Nov. 15, with stops at evangelical churches, media appearances and a Nov. 16 CNN town hall.