Trump did not erase the 2024 field. His campaign smiles.

Photo illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty

Photo illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty

If one of the main goals of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign announcement in early 2024 was to clear the field, it might have had the opposite effect.

But even if (as Mick Jagger would put it in the former president’s favorite outro song at rallies) you can’t always get what you want, Trump might find that a crowded field is just what he needs.

“I think we’re going to have 20 guys back,” a Republican National Committee member told The Daily Beast, requesting anonymity to discuss internal talks about the 2024 primary.

Her estimate of 20 to 21 candidates came from a recent preliminary briefing on the main debate schedule.

In Trumpworld, the notion of a field the size of 2016 looks more of a problem than terribly tempting, even as the man who reframed the GOP in his image has seen a steady decline in support among Republicans going back to before the interim period goes back.

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“Depending on which poll you like, up to 45 percent of likely Republican primary voters support President Trump … Any way you slice it, Trump would have to be favored to win a primary with four or more candidates,” a source close of Trump said The Daily Beast. “With more than a dozen, like the 2016 primary, he would be unbeatable.”

It’s been looking like an open season since last week alone.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, one of the 16 GOP candidates Trump defeated in 2016, sat at the most openly critical end of the spectrum, calling for a “family feud” that the party must openly fight.

“We lose and lose and lose,” Christie said at the Republican Jewish Coalition meeting in Las Vegas. “And the fact of the matter is that we’re losing because Donald Trump put himself ahead of everyone else.”

Then there were former Trump administration officials Nikki Haley and Mike Pompeo, who don’t take on Trump directly but are clearly signaling that they are ready for a primary race. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis made his Gazetteer comments at a news conference last week and also spoke at the RJC event where he spoke about it Bring back water from the Sea of ​​Galilee in Israel to baptize his children with it.

Other GOP figures, such as New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, have previously said they want to avoid a 2016-like scenario of an extended primary with a split field preventing anyone from ordering an outright majority. said Sununu The Washington Post In Vegas, he would personally ensure that latecomers throw in the towel early, while also not ruling out a run of his own.

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“I don’t think Trump will command the field in 2024, I don’t think he can replicate that,” the RNC member said, adding that the House and Senate defeats for the party in New Hampshire are among those of Trump-backed candidates should indicate a shift since his 2016 primary victory.

“All three were Trump people and all three lost. I hope that’s the handwriting on the wall,” said this RNC member, referring to New Hampshire’s GOP nominees for the Senate and two House seats. “I don’t think Trump’s influence here is as great as it used to be.”

Another GOP strategist said a crowded field could only benefit Trump, citing many of the same ingredients from 2016.

“The political landscape is very similar to 2016. Establishment donors, ‘Never Trump’ media and political advisors are once again lining up against him. A crowded field benefits Trump, who is already the clear frontrunner,” the strategist told The Daily Beast, also requesting anonymity to discuss internal deliberations on how to approach the primary.

But even in otherwise reliable MAGA corners of the party infrastructure, concerns about Trump’s announcement bubbled to the surface in light of the interim results, according to the RNC member.

“There’s some thought out there that he’s going to crash and burn before the primary,” they said. “I think people are fed up with him. I’ve had a lot of calls from people calling themselves Trumpers, but they don’t think he should do it again.”

He’s here anyway, and for the gallant Republicans pulling their wagons in front of Trump, the message is clear: come on in, the water’s warm.

“Nobody loves a presidential primary more than Republicans, and we’re going to have a wide range of candidates to choose from, just like we did in 2016,” said the person close to Trump. “It’s healthy and strengthens our party. And like most Trump supporters, I say the more the merrier.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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