Texas is the first stop on the 2024 presidential campaign trail for Donald Trump, the former president’s team announced Friday. In this third consecutive bid for the White House, Trump will hold a rally March 25 at the Waco Regional Airport.
While facing criminal charges and less vocal support from Texas GOP leaders, Trump hopes to lock in the loyalty of Lone Star State voters before more Republicans join the primary race.
“It is undisputed that Texas is Trump Country after electing 37 Trump Endorsed Candidates and recent polling among Texas primary voters,” his campaign staff wrote in a news release announcing the event. Trump’s campaign cited a tweet from Interactive Polls, a conservative media company, as evidence that in polls Texans favor Trump over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a potential Republican nominee.
According to February polling from the Texas Politics Project at the University of Texas at Austin, 56% of Republicans surveyed said the former president should run again.
While Trump was at one point a political force of nature in the state, his sway may have waned given how few prominent Texas Republicans have endorsed the former president for 2024. On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, R-Austin, gave DeSantis his endorsement, calling the Florida governor “a man of conviction.”
While Trump and Nikki Haley, Trump’s pick for United Nations ambassador and the former South Carolina governor, are the only Republican candidates who have formally declared they are running for president, it’s expected DeSantis will also join the race.
Gov. Greg Abbott, a potential 2024 candidate himself, got Trump’s endorsement in his primary last year but kept his distance during the general election, skipping an October rally in Texas.
It’s expected that President Joe Biden will seek a second four-year term.
Trump has been blamed by some leaders in his own party for the GOP’s dull performance nationwide last November. He is also subject to numerous criminal investigations for his private business and his role in attempting to overthrow the 2020 election.
Trump lost the election to Biden in 2020 by a 4-point margin.
A report commissioned by the Trump campaign found little evidence of double voting or ballots bearing the names of dead people, according to The Washington Post, which contradicted his claims of fraud.
The Associated Press reported that Trump could be under indictment in the coming weeks in New York for an investigation into his alleged payment of hush money in 2016 to women he had sexual encounters with a decade earlier.
Doors open at noon Saturday in Waco; Trump is scheduled to speak at 5 p.m.