Ex-US president says "America's comeback starts right now" as he announces he will run for president in 2024 at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida state.
Donald Trump has pulled the trigger on a third White House run, setting the stage for a bruising Republican nomination battle after a poor midterm election showing by his hand-picked candidates weakened his grip on the party.
"America's comeback starts right now," the 76-year-old former president told hundreds of supporters gathered on Tuesday in an ornate American flag-draped ballroom at his palatial Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida.
"In order to make America great again, I am tonight announcing my candidacy for president of the United States," Trump said to a cheering phone-waving crowd of donors and longtime supporters.
Trump filed his official candidacy papers with the US election authority moments before publicly announcing his candidacy.
“I am running because I believe the world has not yet seen the true glory of what this nation can be,” Trump said.
“We will again put America first.”
Trump's unusually early entry into the White House race is being seen in Washington as an attempt to get the jump on other Republicans seeking to be the party flag-bearer in 2024 — and to stave off potential criminal charges.
Republicans are licking their wounds after disappointing midterms, widely blamed on the underperformance of Trump-anointed candidates, and some are openly asking whether Trump — with his divisive brand of politics and mess of legal woes — is the right person to carry the party colors next time around.
Several possible 2024 primary rivals are circling, chief among them the governor of Florida Ron DeSantis, who bucked the tide and won a resounding reelection victory on November 8.
Trump, who lost the 2020 election to Democrat Joe Biden after being impeached twice by the House of Representatives, launches his latest White House bid with several potential handicaps.
He is the target of multiple investigations into his conduct before, during and after his first term as president — which could ultimately result in his disqualification.
These include allegations of fraud by his family business, his role in last year's attack on the US Capitol, his attempt to overturn the 2020 election, and his stashing of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.
With Trump now a declared candidate, Biden's attorney general, Merrick Garland, may be forced to name a special counsel to pursue the various investigations into the former president launched by the Department of Justice.
Far from the undisputed leader of the party, Trump is now facing criticism from some of his own allies, who say it's time for Republicans to look to the future, with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis emerging as an early favorite White House contender.
The former president is still popular with the GOP base. But other Republicans, including former vice president Mike Pence, are taking increasingly public steps toward campaigns of their own, raising the prospect that Trump will have to navigate a competitive GOP primary.