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USA | Dec 9, 2020

Trump’s likely endgame: Lying in wait at Mar-a-Lago

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US President Donald Trump arrives for his New Year’s Eve gala at Mar-a-Lago on December 31, 2017. (Photo: Vanity Fair)

By Kinky Tail

During his four years as President of the United States, Donald Trump frequently spent weekends and holidays at Mar-a-Lago, where he entertained dignitaries and politicos.

His resort doubled membership fees to $200,000, a king’s ransom paid by an assortment of “admirers” seeking face time with the President or relishing the opportunity to get close to him.

“It’s been a magnet for grifters who want to throw money at the feet of the President,” said Holman Jenkins. “This is exactly the type of venue Donald Trump could make use of for solidifying connections with the powerful and wealthy and trying to make a political comeback.”

Secret Service members from Trump’s detail and the Miami field office have been asked if they would like to transfer to the resort, according to television network, ABC. Sources close to Trump say renovations are planned at his Mar-a-Lago residence.

The Mar-a-Lago Resort is seen where President Donald Trump hosts nearly all of his political visits, official and unofficial. More often than not, Trump and his invitees are scheduled to get in a game of golf before discussing trade, immigration and other issues. (Photo: Joe Raedle for NBC News)

Trump, meanwhile, told attendees at a White House holiday event last week that he would “see you in four years,” alluding to a bid to return to the White House. On Sunday, Axios, citing two anonymous sources, reported that Trump is considering a campaign launch rally in Florida on Jan. 20 as Biden is being sworn in.

Sources close to Trump say it’s too early to know exactly what he will do once his legal challenges run out.

But Trump has options. He has raised more than $200 million since election day, according to his campaign team with an unknown percentage of that going into a new political committee created last month to help fund his future ambitions. In announcing the fundraising numbers, Trump’s campaign manager, Bill Stepien, said “they show President Trump remains the leader of and source of energy for the Republican Party.”

The perception that Trump is the frontrunner for the 2024 GOP nomination should allow him to continue to command the attention of political watchers and the American public at large.

“If the president says he’s going to run in 2024, he’ll probably clear the field. He’ll be the Republican nominee, and he’ll spend the next four years running,”  said US Senator Marco Rubio, on NBC’s “Impact” with Jackie Nespral.

President Donald Trump, an undeniable success story of American politics. (REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

Though Trump’s influence is already waning and will weaken further once he is out of office, his rally this past weekend in Georgia displayed his continued importance to Republicans seeking to regain the White House. Trump’s appeal comes from his populism, and his unique ability to energise previously apathetic voters, blue-collar workers and Latinos.

“There’s no other person who can duplicate that,” said Brian Ballard, a top Republican fundraiser and lobbyist in Washington and Tallahassee.

Trump’s potential as a 2024 candidate is also disrupting the plans of presidential hopefuls. His presence in Florida would complicate the ambitions of  Marco Rubio, Governor Ron DeSantis and US Senator Rick Scott, all of whom reportedly have Oval Office aspirations.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio. (Photo: USA Today)

Still, Alex Conant, a founding partner at Firehouse Strategies and the communications director for Rubio’s 2016 presidential run, said Trump’s physical location probably doesn’t matter as much as his social media activity and his appearances on conservative TV networks.

“Trump doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy who’s going to spend a lot of time at Lincoln Day dinners after he leaves the White House,” said Conant, referring to the annual fundraising galas hosted by local GOP parties.

“He’ll likely continue to throw big parties, whether it’s at Mar-a-Lago or in New Jersey. But the focus of his political  activity will be his Twitter account.”

The Mar-a-Lago club, where President Donald Trump spent his Easter weekend, in Palm Beach, Florida, last April 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Al Drago)

But, noting the Axios report, Conant said Trump does continue to have a strong base in Florida, a state Republican presidential nominees must win to claim the White House.

“If his first post presidential rally is in Florida, then he will be cementing that strong support,” he said. “He’s the only Florida politician who can fill a stadium with supporters.”

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