(Bloomberg) -- As Donald Trump considers when to announce his candidacy for president in 2024, he faces a costly quandary.
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As head of the Save America political action committee, he controls $103 million, making him the Republican Party kingmaker. Once he declares a run -- moving from kingmaker to possible king -- federal law puts the money beyond his reach.
The former president has been indicating for months that he will make another White House bid. He’s said he’s made his decision but can’t disclose it -- at least not until after November’s midterm elections -- because of those campaign finance restrictions.
When he announces, he’s limited to taking just $5,000 of his leadership PAC money for his campaign committee, which would begin with a starting balance of zero.
At the same time, declaring his candidacy might spur his loyal donors to fill his campaign coffers. Trump has shown he can raise money quickly: In the three weeks after losing the 2020 election, he joined with the Republican National Committee to raise $207.5 million while falsely claiming widespread fraud led to his defeat.
Jan. 6 hearings
Trump returns to Washington on Tuesday for the first time since he left the White House, and there is no more popular figure in the party. Yet his political future is far from clear. He has taken something of a beating at the hands of the congressional committee investigating his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot in the US Capitol. And almost half of Republicans now say they would prefer another candidate in 2024.
But Trump is seriously considering announcing a re-election bid early, according to a person familiar with his plans -- despite concerns among some party leaders that he’d energize Democrats and distract from GOP efforts to focus on rising inflation and other problems facing the US to retake control of Congress in November.
And while he has been steadily raising money, his fundraising operation took a dip in the second quarter to $17 million, down from the $19 million in the previous three months, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission.
During the financial reporting period, six televised hearings of the House committee investigating the assault on the US Capitol took place.
In truth, Trump’s fundraising began slowing before the hearings. In the first six months of 2022, he raised $36 million, a 29% drop from the $50.5 million in the previous six months.
Republicans who might challenge Trump have also been raising lots of cash. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has brought in $122 million through his campaign and an allied PAC for his re-election. Most of his money, some $71.8 million, came from donors who gave $50,000 or more. Just $7.3 million, or 6%, came from the kind of small-dollar donors Trump most relies on for his fundraising.
Trump has highlighted polls showing him as the clear favorite for the 2024 GOP nomination, including a Harvard Center for American Political Studies/Harris survey released July 1 that showed him leading DeSantis 56%-16%. Still, almost 60% of all voters in that poll said they don’t think Trump should run again, with about a third saying Trump is erratic, will divide the US or is responsible for the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Even with inflation hitting a four-decade high, President Joe Biden still edges past Trump 44% to 41% in a hypothetical re-match, according to a New York Times/Siena College poll taken July 5-7.
Meanwhile, a majority of Americans don’t want either Trump or Biden to run again, a Quinnipiac University poll released July 20 found. Fully 64% of Americans don’t want to see Trump make another White House bid -- including 27% of Republicans and 68% of independents.
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