[News] Mega donors, daughter Ivanka abandon ex-president at the starting blocks

“I love my father very much. This time around I am choosing to prioritise my young children and the private life we are creating as a family. I do not plan to be involved in politics,” she said in a statement posted on Instagram.

“While I will always love and support my father, going forward I will do so outside the political arena.”

Then US president Donald Trump watches his daughter Ivanka speak at a rally ahead of the 2020 election.Credit:AP

Trump’s candidacy announcement came despite calls from some Republicans for him to either stand aside after last week’s poor showing in the midterm elections, or at least delay the news until after the Georgia run-off election on December 6 determines the winner of the final Senate seat.

However, the former president was determined to reassert his authority over the party and fend off any potential rivals, such as DeSantis (who was re-elected in a landslide last week); former vice president Mike Pence (who has said he was “prayerful considering” running as a candidate); and former secretary of state Mike Pompeo (who has hinted he was weighing up his options).

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“We need more seriousness, less noise and leaders who are looking forward, not staring in the rearview mirror claiming victimhood,” Pompeo tweeted, in an apparent jab at Trump.

Trump made his speech in the ballroom of his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida before an audience of allies, advisers, fans and leading business figures. Among them was Australian mining magnate Gina Rinehart, who was snapped in the background of a selfie that Trump’s son Eric, with his wife Lara, posted on Instagram

Gina Rinehart in the background of an Instagram post by Donald Trump’s son Eric and his wife Lara at the former president’s campaign launch.

Gina Rinehart in the background of an Instagram post by Donald Trump’s son Eric and his wife Lara at the former president’s campaign launch.Credit:Instagram

The hour-long speech was more subdued than Trump’s usual rallies and made little mention of his “stolen election” claims beyond a commitment to overhaul electoral processes if he became president again – something that is ultimately up to individual states under America’s decentralised system.

Long-time Trump adviser Jason Miller, who helped he put the finishing touches on the speech, said it was designed to be forward-looking and “take up the fight” to President Joe Biden.

Asked about senior figures distancing themselves from Trump, Miller, the chief executive of social media platform GETTR, replied: “President Trump’s always had a unique ability to reach out and connect directly with voters in a way that the elites and the Washington insiders don’t quite understand.”

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The candidacy was also viewed as a calculation, on Trump’s part, to try to inoculate himself from his many legal challenges, which include probes into his role in the US Capitol attack and an investigation into the alleged mishandling of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.

Legal experts say Trump would not be afforded any protection from prosecution simply by running as a candidate. However, in such a polarised partisan climate, Attorney-General Merrick Garland, who was appointed by Biden, may consider setting up a special counsel to handle investigations against Trump given his shift from ex-president to political opponent.

Alan Rozenshtein, a professor of law at the University of Minnesota said Trump’s announcement could also help with his fundraising and campaigning by presenting himself as the victim of a political witch-hunt.

“It allows him to go to his rallies and send out fundraising emails that say, they’re against MAGA so much that they’re willing to prosecute me,” said Rozenshtein, a former Justice Department official.

“Unfortunately, this is just a cost that the Department of Justice is going to have to swallow.”

In terms of campaign financing, Trump has amassed a war chest of about $US100 million ($148 million) through his Save America fundraising arm but will face new restrictions on how he can spend the funds now he is a candidate.

Some of that money was transferred to into a separate account prior to his announcement and watchdog groups say the law has numerous loopholes that can be exploited.

Trump also has a massive “small donor” list thanks to his relentless fundraising over the past two years. In the past two days alone, he has sent out dozens of emails asking for money for his campaign.

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