Former President Donald Trump held two campaign events in New Hampshire and South Carolina on Saturday, marking his first formal public appearance since he declared his 2024 candidacy.
His events were more intimate than the large rallies for which he has become known, but still hit on policies that he said would be antithetical to President Joe Biden’s approach to immigration and crime. He also brushed aside any concerns that he may have, in his own words, “lost his step,” telling New Hampshire Republican leaders he is more “angry” and “committed” than ever.
In South Carolina, Trump met with a couple of hundred people and made remarks with Governor Henry McMaster — who is heading the Trump campaign’s South Carolina leadership team — and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on either side of him.
He also hit on cultural issues and education, deriding “wokeness” in the military and “perverts” who are “indoctrinating youth” into believing there are more than two genders. Later in his remarks, Trump promised to cut federal funding for any school pushing leftwing political or sexual content onto children, and to incentivize states to protect the rights of parents in education.
“If any principal is not getting the job done, the parent should have the right and be able to vote and to fire them, and to select someone else that will do the job properly,” Trump said.
Trump’s campaign events come as he remains the only Republican candidate in a field that is expected to grow to include officials who served in the last administration. This week former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley said she would soon decide whether she would run in 2024. Both former Vice President Mike Pence and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently released memoirs, which typically precede presidential announcements for those with aspirations for the nation’s highest office.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who beat his Democratic gubernatorial opponent in 2022 by such a decisive margin that the once-purple state was declared red by legacy media, is also releasing a memoir next month but remains guarded about his plans. Polling suggests that a DeSantis entry in the 2024 Republican primary would cause the biggest splash in the field.
Nominating contest aside, it’s unclear who the Republican nominee would be running against. President Joe Biden has declined to say whether he will seek re-election, and his absence could cause a messy primary process.
Biden, like Trump, is also under investigation by a special counsel over his handling of classified documents.