WASHINGTON – Former US president Donald Trump delivered his first speech on Sunday since leaving the White House on January 20, hinting at a possible 2024 presidential bid.
“With your help, we will take back the House,” he said during his speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference. “We will win the Senate. And then, a Republican president will make a triumphant return to the White House. And I wonder who that will be?”
And while the Jewish Democratic Council of America issued an email reading “Trump is back – we must stop him,” not everyone on the Republican side saw his speech as an announcement about the future.
Philip Rosenzweig is the chairman of the Republican Committee of Lower Merion and Narberth, which encompasses the first 14 towns of Philadelphia’s Eastern Main Line. “I heard him being very playful with the media and with the notion that he could [run], and I think the possibility is definitely floated,” he told The Jerusalem Post. “But we are so far away from that being a reality.”
“I think he was taunting the Democrats... [to show] that just because he lost the election does not mean he has gone away and that he is not a major force in the party. That’s what I heard, and I understand why there might be an implication that he would be considering it, but I certainly didn’t hear him declare himself to be a candidate in 2024. And I certainly heard him talk about 2022.”
Rosenzweig went on to say that “it is way too premature” to discuss the 2024 presidential run. Pennsylvania is a central swing state with 20 votes in the Electoral College that went for Trump in 2016 and then for Biden in 2020. Before dealing with 2024, the GOP must gain ground there in 2022.
“We are all focused heavily on 2022, the midterms, and I’m focused on regaining control of the House of Representatives and a definitive gain in the Senate that would restore complete control of Congress,” he said. “Donald Trump is still very popular among some and very divisive for others. And we are really not focused on that at all.”
Matt Brooks, executive director for the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC), voiced a similar opinion. “Our focus is on 2022 and taking back the majorities, not 2024, so we aren’t going to comment on any of the speculations on who will or won’t run in 2024,” he told the Post.
Another crucial swing state that the Republicans are interested in flipping back from blue to red is Arizona. Lisa Karlovsky, Arizona Chapter chairwoman of the RJC, told the Post that she “absolutely” believes that Trump should run in 2024.
“He is and will be the head of the Republican Party, even though the mainstream media would like everyone to believe otherwise,” she said. “Trump’s popularity remains quite high and I believe it will continue to soar, as the American people continue to witness the catastrophic policies of the Biden-Harris administration, such as the Keystone Pipeline job-killer, and reentering the disastrous Iran Nuclear Deal.”
Stephen Fiske is chairman of the US-Israel PAC. Like Karlovsky, he believes that Trump will be the nominee in 2024 – but he isn’t sure if the former president will actually decide to run.
“Trump’s announcement, if just simply posturing or real, is welcome news to American Jews, who prioritize Israel,” said Fiske. “Even if he decides to be the face of the Republican Party and just support primary and general election candidates, that too will be viewed as a positive by the growing Republican Jewish base.
“There’s no doubt a growing percentage of the Jewish community would prefer that Trump runs in 2024,” Fiske added. “He has proven beyond a doubt his friendship and support to the American Jewish community here in the US and Israel.”
Fiske, a South Florida realtor, noted that Trump received over 40% of the Sunshine State’s Jewish vote.
“More American Jews and friends of American Jews will clearly see this and unequivocally gravitate towards Trump or a surrogate if he chooses one to replace him,” he continued. “For all of Trump’s idiosyncrasies, he has been historic in his support of the State of Israel, and that has not gone unnoticed.”
Fiske noted that Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and facilitated normalization between Israel and four Arab-majority Muslim nations. “Jewish Americans will vote for Trump, as actions speak louder than anything else,” he said.