Donald Trump’s announcement that he will run for president of the United States in 2024 was not a prank or a ploy to avoid prosecution, as some have speculated. He’s hitting the campaign trail, laying the groundwork for a serious run for the White House.
On Saturday, nearly three months after announcing his candidacy, the former president made his first campaign appearance outside of his adopted home state of Florida.
In New Hampshire, he addressed a Republican Party meeting and announced that the outgoing state party chair would serve as a senior adviser to his campaign. He also received the support of South Carolina’s governor, Henry McMaster, and Senator Lindsey Graham at the state capitol in Columbia.
The latter, a Trump confidante who expressed disappointment following the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021, is now firmly back in the fold.
“How many times have you heard people say, ‘We like Trump’s policies, but we want someone new?'” Mr Graham polled the audience. “Without Donald Trump, there are no Trump policies. I was present.”
Mr Trump denied his defeat in 2020 once more, telling supporters that he, unlike any possible Republican alternative, would be the most effective nominee in 2024.
“To change the entire system, you need a president who can take on the entire system and win,” he said from the main hall of the state capitol.
Mr Trump touted his record of success during his presidency in both stops, while criticizing President Joe Biden’s record on crime, immigration, and the economy.
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Todd Gerhardt, a Republican district executive committee member from nearby Charleston, sold honey in Trump-shaped plastic bottles across the street.
Mr Gerhardt was an early supporter of Mr Trump’s first presidential campaign, organizing a 2016 rally for him on South Carolina’s posh Kiawah Island, and recently paid a visit to the former president’s Mar-a-Lago estate for a fundraiser and to supply honey for the campaign’s gift bags.
He said Mar-a-Lago had a festive atmosphere as Trump’s team prepared for the upcoming fight, and he dismissed concerns that Republican voters in South Carolina and across the country might prefer a different nominee this time.