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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 26 February 2021

Trump says ‘too early’ to know if he will make 2024 presidential bid

Former US president admitted he misses the job

US President Donald Trump waves as he arrives at Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach on January 20. Reuters
US President Donald Trump waves as he arrives at Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach on January 20. Reuters

Former US president Donald Trump said on Wednesday it was too early to say whether he will make a bid for the 2024 presidential election.

Breaking a month-long silence since leaving office, Mr Trump gave a string of interviews to acknowledge the death of conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh, who Mr Trump awarded the prestigious medal of freedom.

“I really wanted to be somewhat quiet,” Mr Trump said.

While he dodged repeated questions about whether he intends to run for office again, Mr Trump admitted that he missed the presidency.

Mr Trump told Newsmax that his team was still exploring options for returning to social media and “negotiating with a number of people”.

The former president was banned from Facebook and Twitter after the US Capitol attack in January for inciting violence.

He said he is still keeping on the table the option of building his own social platform.

Mr Trump said he has had no problem communicating when he wants to by issuing statements – and made clear this week that he will not retire quietly.

The former president hurled a series of personal insults at Mitch McConnell, the Senate’s top Republican, in a fiery written statement released on Tuesday.

Mainstream Republicans were perhaps most concerned about his threat to support primary challengers against Republican candidates who donot fully embrace his “Make America Great Again” philosophy.

The former president is widening rifts within the Republican party, which could undermine the Republican push to fight President Joe Biden’s agenda and ultimately return to power.

A day after criticising Mr McConnell as a “dour, sullen and unsmiling political hack”, Mr Trump repeated his baseless claim that he was the rightful winner of the November election.

Mr Trump continued his attack on Mr McConnell, accusing the Senate minority leader of failing to stand up for Republicans.

The row between the former allies comes after Mr McConnell broke his longtime allegiance to Mr Trump and blamed him for inciting the January 6 Capitol riot, despite voting to acquit the former president at his second impeachment trial.

“The Republicans are soft. They only hit their own, like Mitch,” Mr Trump said on Newsmax.

“If they spent the same time hitting [Senate Democratic leader Chuck] Schumer and [President Joe] Biden, the Republicans would be much better off, that I can tell you.”

In this photo taken on October 23, 2017 President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell walk to lunch. AFP/Getty Images
In this photo taken on October 23, 2017 President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell walk to lunch. AFP/Getty Images

Republican officials in several battlegrounds carried by Mr Biden, including Georgia and Arizona, said the vote was fair.

Mr Trump’s legal claims regarding the vote were rejected by judges across the political spectrum, including many appointed by the former president.

Mr McConnell himself described Mr Trump’s contention as an “unhinged falsehood”.

Leading GOP strategists described the feud between the former Republican president and the Senate’s most powerful Republican as, at best, a distraction and, at worst, a direct threat to the party’s path to the House and Senate majorities in next year’s midterms.

“I don’t think he cares about winning,” Steven Law, a McConnell ally who leads the most powerful Republican-aligned super PAC in Washington, said of Mr Trump. “He just wants it to be about himself.”

Updated: February 18, 2021 02:21 PM

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