There’s a bit of denialism swirling around D.C., and around the political power corridors of the country, regarding whether Donald Trump is actually running for president or just engaging in an elongated, Lear-esque fit of equivocating narcissism. Well, he’s running. And the clearest indication—beyond his many public statements that he intends to do so, and beyond the many reassurances I’ve received from aides that they are doing the paperwork—is that Trump is “getting antsy,” as one aide told me. In fact, he would have announced earlier, but was persuaded to postpone on account of the various resultant financial costs and regulatory hurdles of being a candidate.
In fact, Trump’s aides are doing the sorts of things that campaigns do in their early stages, like having those hard conversations about what worked in 2016 and did not in 2020, about hierarchy and titles, and engaging vendors. One recent huddle of this variety occurred two weeks ago in Mar-a-Lago, and it included Chris LaCivita, who is shaping up to be the next campaign manager, whether he has that title or not. LaCivita, a partner at FP1 and senior strategist for MAGA, Inc., has been described to me as an inspired choice, a real player, and an operative capable of running a presidential. He’s famously known as a mastermind of the draconian Swift Boat Veterans campaign that annihilated John Kerry.
Obviously, the locus of power in Trumpworld has long been vested in Susie Wiles, who runs the former president’s political operation, happens to be a Florida expert, and has his ear. But it seems like Wiles is taking on more of a Podesta-style role as a rainmaking ubiquitous elder statesperson, and constant counselor and advice-giver and backup brain. This will also move her off the dartboard. Trump, I’m told, is excited by the new, leaner crop of staffers around him, referring to them as his “new team” as he waxes nostalgic about 2016, when he actually won (the electoral college).