Donald Trump, during the act this Saturday in New Hampshire. Reba Saldanha (AP)
Donald Trump left his Mar-a-Lago lair this Saturday to participate in the states of New Hampshire and South Carolina in two acts before his own, the first of his third campaign towards the White House, which he aspires to win back in 2024.
He started for the North at noon (East Coast time) with a rally in Salem, New Hampshire, in which he was more relaxed than during the tense announcement on November 15 of his admittedly early presidential aspirations.
Since then the tycoon has not been seen, harassed by pending cases and increasingly isolated inside and outside his country, beyond the borders of the farm where he lives in Palm Beach (Florida).
The 437 Republican leaders and supporters who attended the state congress of the formation in Salem had their share of pure Trump, who at times flirted with intrusion into the profession of stand-up comedy.
He talked about President Joe Biden and the troubles with his son Hunter's laptop ("what was in it,' Joe asked him. 'all the crimes you've committed, dad") and the war in Ukraine ("my personality kept them away from war").
He also threw himself into one of his favorite hobbies: throwing flowers at his presidency (2017-2021): "We stopped the communists, we stopped the Marxists," Trump said of his only term.
"And if we don't stop them next time, I think this will be the end of it."
His return to public life this weekend can be interpreted as an attempt to revive the verve of a campaign that was born tired and is moving awkwardly due to the failure of the Republicans in the midterm elections last November.
In them, they failed to reconquer the Senate, they had to settle for a slim majority in Congress and they blamed all this on the influence of the former president when it came to appointing candidates (too extreme and inexperienced), whom many among his ranks finally dare to dismiss as a "serial loser".
Skeptics include New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, who is seen as a possible potential candidate for the 2024 Republican nomination, and has been highly critical of Trump.
He argued in December that he is "not the influence he thinks he is" anymore and that the Republican Party was "moving away" from him.
Inaccessible to stubborn reality, he responded to these criticisms by speaking in Salem about himself in the third person (another weakness) during his speech on Saturday: “They say that he is not holding rallies, that he is not campaigning, maybe he has lost his punch, But what they don't know is that I'm angrier and more committed now [to victory] than ever."
Trump did not leave the choice of settings for his umpteenth resurrection to chance.
New Hampshire is the place where the first primaries of the parties to choose their candidate are held (they arrive within days of the organization of the picturesque Iowa caucuses).
The Democrats are wanting to change that order in the interest of greater fidelity between what comes out of New Hampshire, a state that does not reflect the diversity of the country, and the final result.
The idea is to prioritize South Carolina, the second stop on Trump's
Republicans have no plans to upset that order.
To Columbia, the capital of a state that prides itself on being the first to vote for president among those from the South of the country, the tycoon flew after New Hampshire to offer a speech in the afternoon in its Congress.
New Hampshire is a land of fond memories for Trump, who won the 2016 primary when the very thought of him ending up in the White House seemed like an impossible joke.
Then he lost State to Hillary Clinton by just under one point (seven separated him from Joe Biden in 2020).
In Salem he announced Saturday the appointment of Stephen Stepanek as a senior adviser to his campaign.
Six years ago Stepanek decisively helped him win the Granite State, which is how this small corner of the country's northeastern coast is popularly known.
This time things look much more difficult than then.
Despite the fact that Trump is the only one who has made his candidacy for the presidency public in either of the two parties, in his there are already names that sound strong to dispute the position.
The most successful so far in representing an alternative is Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a man of wild ambition and ruthless manner often referred to by his opponents as "Trump with brains and temperance."
The trip to New Hampshire comes two days after a New Hampshire university poll placed Trump 12 points behind the Florida governor among New Hampshire Republicans.
Other possible Republican adversaries could include former Vice President Mike Pence, in hot water this week when it emerged he was keeping classified documents at his Indiana home;
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who has served a year in office with his culture warrior credentials intact;
and Nikki Haley, who was the governor of South Carolina from 2011 to 2017 and later served as ambassador to the United Nations under Trump as president.
Haley was not expected at the Trump event this Saturday afternoon.
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