Nascent Trump 2024 campaign apparatus takes shape

Election 2024 Trump
Flags in support of former President Donald Trump fly outside his Mar-a-lago resort, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022 in Palm Beach, Fla. Trump is preparing to launch his third campaign for the White House with an announcement Tuesday night. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) Andrew Harnik/AP

Nascent Trump 2024 campaign apparatus takes shape

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Several longtime Republican advisers have been tapped to lead former President Donald Trump’s 2024 campaign, even as he confronts skepticism of his latest bid and some question the stakes of serving a famously mercurial principal under hostile circumstances.

Trump announced his candidacy late Tuesday in a speech at his Mar-a-Lago estate.

The operation will be based in South Florida, with a satellite office in northern Virginia. The campaign is still being built out but is expected to have a smaller footprint than Trump’s 2020 apparatus.

A source said Trump campaign veteran Susie Wiles would lead the operation alongside longtime Republican operative Chris LaCivita, while former White House political director Brian Jack would occupy a senior political role.

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Kellyanne Conway, a trusted adviser to Trump, is also expected to have a role.

The Washington Post reported the positions Monday.

Wiles has helmed Trump’s post-presidency apparatus since he left office and was widely heralded upon her return to his 2020 campaign. She helped Trump win Florida twice and was a top campaign operative to then-Gov. Rick Scott’s (R-FL) successful 2018 Senate bid, which was viewed as a long shot in that Democratic wave year.

She has continued to play a crucial role atop Trump’s political operation.

“A lot of the endorsements that he made, she was in the middle of that decision-making process, so there’s a feeling of trust and familiarity and presumably loyalty which is very important to President Trump,” said former Palm Beach County Republican Party Chairman Sid Dinerstein.

Wiles also has a complicated history with Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), a potential top rival for the Republican nomination in 2024.

LaCivita is a strategist for a Trump-affiliated super PAC and was the general consultant on Sen. Ron Johnson’s (R-WI) successful reelection campaign. He is well known for questioning John Kerry’s Vietnam War record as a Swift boat commander during the 2004 presidential campaign.

“They are the best,” said Joe Gruters, the Florida Republican Party chairman and a state senator.

A campaign announcement by Trump on Tuesday set in motion the beginning of a frantic push toward 2024, even as some midterm races remain undecided.

With the Georgia Senate runoff still ahead, some have urged Trump to delay an announcement, lashing out at the former president over his involvement in critical races. While most Republicans do not blame the party’s lackluster performance entirely on him, many operatives charged in interviews that he shouldered some of the responsibility.

Trump has also faced open skepticism from members of his party that he can clinch the nomination, with Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) voicing this week a willingness among some to look beyond the former president. “I’ll support the Republican nominee, but I don’t know that it will be him,” Cornyn told reporters. Former Vice President Mike Pence has also questioned whether Trump has a clear path to victory.

Trump’s past campaigns were fertile grounds for infighting and competitive maneuvering.

He whipped through several campaign managers during his 2016 and 2020 presidential bids, leading one Republican operative to preview the stakes for the campaign’s stewards in ominous terms.

“There’s something called first in, first out,” the person said, a reference to the former president’s firings of top staff. “There’s too many things that can go wrong in the beginning of a campaign — especially presidential, especially with Donald Trump.”

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Wiles would not play into any clashes but could face broader challenges, Dinerstein said.

“There are a lot of issues within the Republican Party. I don’t think she created them and that having her or not having her is some magic bullet that either dramatically helps or hurts [Trump’s] campaign,” he added.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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