Former President Donald Trump’s rant-filled weekend campaign stops highlight the challenges he faces in the 2024 election — including getting big donors to back him and even longtime allies to endorse him.
Trump, 76, sang no new tunes as he hit the stump for the first time since announcing his third straight run for the White House in November.
Instead of dispelling critics who say his message is stale — and potentially reeling in deep-pocketed GOP donors — Trump continued to harp on his long-disproven allegations of 2020 election fraud, batted at windmills and ripped anticipated primary-race foe and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
“It’s time for a younger person or someone new to have their time,” said Karen Umberger — a delegate at the Republican State Committee’s annual meeting in Salem, NH, where Trump spoke Saturday — to the Washington Post.
The poor showing of Trump-endorsed candidates in the midterm election led New Hampshire delegate Bill Bowen to say he would favor DeSantis.
“We really need a candidate who can appeal more to the middle,” said Bowen, who was among the little more than 400 people at the campaign event in a local high-school auditorium, to the outlet.
“The question is, how do you do that without alienating Trump-ish voters?”
Marilyn Huston of Cheshire County, NH, told the outlet that Trump is simply too “unpredictable’’ to lead the country again.
Typical big Republican donors appear to agree, claiming Trump is just too much of a loose cannon and politically toxic to get behind financially.
During his speech in New Hampshire, the Donald channeled Don Quixote’s wacky hatred of windmills as he mocked President Biden’s energy policies.
“No drill, we’re not gonna drill. We’re going wind. Let’s kill all the birds. Let’s destroy our planes and beautiful oceans and seas and everything else,” Trump said sarcastically, while providing no evidence that windmills destroy planes or oceans, according to Rolling Stone.
Chris Wood, 65, of Concord told the Washington Post, “Like many Republicans, we want to win 2024, and I think DeSantis gives Republicans a better shot at winning the presidency.’’
One recent New Hampshire poll found that DeSantis had a 42 to 30 percent edge among potential GOP primary voters in that state, which Trump won in 2016 when he ran as an outsider candidate.
A national poll found that DeSantis’ advantage increased to 64 to 36 percent over Trump outside the Granite State.
Hours later, the perennial candidate Trump repeated his false claims of the 2020 election being stolen from him at a small event in Columbia, SC.
He brought up the topic even as establishment Republicans have warned that harping on it would cost him support in the next election cycle.
Despite getting nods from the likes of South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster and Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC), some local GOP leaders at the event still refused to pledge their support to Trump, saying they’re waiting to see if there’s a better option.
Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who served as ambassador to the United Nations under Trump, was conspicuously absent from the event as talk continues that she may challenge him.
After Trump spoke to the small gathering in Columbia, he bashed DeSantis for considering running against him.
“I do think it would be a great act of disloyalty because, you know, I got him in. He had no chance. His political life was over” before that, the former president told reporters.
Trump did generally enjoy a warm reception at both events, and many of his supporters said he could not be counted out.
“People are waking up; people are realizing how their life was two years ago compared to now,” Nick Blanchard, 33, told the Washington Post. “I believe he will be our 47th president.”
But Terry Sullivan, former campaign manager for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in 2016, was asked by the outlet how he thought Trump’s campaign for the White House was going.
“What campaign?” Sullivan quipped.
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