Former president Donald Trump gave his strongest indication yet that he intends to run in 2024 during a nearly 90-minute speech to supporters on Saturday night that also included continued praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin. “We did it twice, and we’ll do it again,” Trump told a crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, falsely claiming again that he won the 2020 election. “We’re going to be doing it again a third time.”
This is the latest in a string of thinly veiled hints about his political plans, but Trump has stopped short of officially declaring his candidacy, which would trigger more stringent requirements for how he raises, spends and reports funds. The former president condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine without denigrating Putin directly, saying it’s “appalling and it’s an outrage and an atrocity that should never have been allowed to occur.” Trump mocked President Biden and NATO allies for punishing Russia with sanctions, saying Putin was “playing Biden like a drum.” He bragged that Putin did not invade any countries during his term and said this invasion would never have happened “if our election was not rigged” — a reference to his false claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him.“He understood me and he understood that I didn’t play games,
” Trump said of the Russian president. “Someday I’ll tell you exactly what we talked about, and we talked about it, he did have an affinity, there’s no question about it, for Ukraine. … I said, ‘Better not let it happen.’”Pete Hegseth, a Fox News host, compared Trump to Winston Churchill and said that conservatives would “Make America great again, again” in 2024. Jack Posobiec, a promoter of the “Pizzagate” false conspiracy theory who works with the conservative youth group Turning Point USA, said that any 2024 Democratic nominee would be a “sacrificial lamb” in the year of a Trump comeback.
The Federal Election Commission earlier this month faced a complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, that seeks to compel the commission to declare Trump a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. The complainant, John Anthony Castro, is a declared candidate for the Republican nomination and argues that he is suffering “competitive injury in the form of a diminution of votes and fundraising.” Brett Kappel of law firm Harmon Curran, an expert on campaign finance laws, said he doesn’t think the comments Saturday night are “enough for Trump to legally become a candidate.”