SALEM, N.H. – Former President Trump is not joining any of his dozen rivals for the Republican presidential nomination in hitting the campaign trail on Labor Day.
The former president does not have to.
With four and a half months to go until the Iowa caucuses kick off the 2024 GOP presidential nominating calendar, Trump is leagues ahead of his challengers in the latest national polling and crucial early state surveys.
Trump’s lead expanded over the spring and summer as he made history as the first former or current president in American history to be indicted for a crime. Trump’s four indictments – including in federal court in Washington D.C. and in Fulton County court in Georgia on charges he tried to overturn his 2020 presidential election loss – have only fueled his support among Republican voters.
Trump stands at 59% support in the latest national poll in the GOP nomination race, a Wall Street Journal survey conducted Aug. 24-30. He held a gigantic 46-point lead over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, – who at 13% was slightly ahead of the rest of the field of contenders, all who registered in the single digits.
The most recent Fox News national poll, conducted in early August, indicated Trump had a 37-point lead.
While not as large, Trump still enjoys commanding double-digit leads over his rivals in the latest polls in Iowa and New Hampshire, which holds the first primary in the GOP nominating calendar and votes second after the Hawkeye State.
“We’ve always firmly believed that President Trump would be the clear and away front-runner in this race and once he started to campaign and travel around the country and engage with voters that it would be clear that he’s in the driver’s seat,” a top Trump campaign adviser, who asked to remain anonymous to speak more freely, told Fox News this summer.
However, compared to his rivals, Trump’s campaign schedule has been sparse. He last hit the trail Aug. 12 as he briefly greeted voters at the Iowa State Fair.
A factor in his light campaign dance card is that his schedule is being consumed by the criminal charges he faces in his four cases – each in separate jurisdictions.
“I’m sorry, I won’t be able to go to Iowa today, I won’t be able to go to New Hampshire today because I’m sitting in a courtroom on bulls—,” he said during a rally in New Hampshire in early August.
Trump’s dominance over his rivals is illustrated in more than just polls. He is also putting up some robust fundraising figures, courtesy of his legal troubles.
As Fox News first reported, Trump hauled in $9.4 million in less than a week after he surrendered to authorities in Atlanta in the Georgia election interference case and had his mug shot taken. The photo was instantly featured on T-shirts, mugs and posters, fueling fundraising. Trump’s campaign touted that in total, they raked in over $20 million in August.
Trump is also dominating coverage of the GOP nomination race with his trips to courthouses in New York, Miami, Washington and Atlanta receiving wall-to-wall coverage on the cable news networks and online.
Campaign aides tell Fox News the former president’s schedule will likely pick up in the coming weeks – starting with a stop on Friday in South Dakota, where he will team up with an ally and potential 2024 running-mate, conservative Gov. Kristi Noem.
Later in September, Trump is set to speak at the California GOP convention.
While Trump is currently lapping the field, a veteran Republican strategist says the race is far from over.
Longtime New Hampshire-based Republican strategist Jim Merrill, a veteran of numerous GOP presidential campaigns who is neutral in the 2024 nomination race, noted that “Donald Trump is king of the hill right now.”
However, Merrill noted that “there are a lot of candidates who are working really hard up here and what I’m seeing is that there’s an awful lot of interest in the candidates as they’re going around the state, holding town halls, doing parades. You’re seeing big crowds and interested voters.”
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