And away we go.
Two months after former President Donald Trump announced his presidential bid, this past weekend marked the first featuring the real trappings of a campaign — early-state travel and intra-party pugilism.
Trump visited New Hampshire (where he criticized the prosecution of former Trump Organization CEO Allen Weisselberg) and South Carolina (where he stood alongside top Republicans in the state and declared that “Joe Biden has brought us to the brink of World War III”).
In a sign of what’s to come, Trump also took a swing at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, arguing that he’s “trying to rewrite history” on his response to the pandemic, noting that DeSantis “closed the beaches and everything.” (Reports this weekend show DeSantis and his inner circle preparing for a possible presidential bid.)
Back on the Sunday shows, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu panned Trump’s New Hampshire speech as a “mundane” one that “stuck to his talking points,” reiterating he’s considering a White House bid of his own during a CNN interview.
And ahead of his own trip to New Hampshire to meet with Republicans, former Texas Rep. Will Hurd dipped his toes into the 2024 waters, telling Fox News: “I always have an open mind about how to serve my country.”
In other campaign news:
Republican reckoning: RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel’s re-election on Friday is unlikely to quiet infighting within the GOP, NBC News’ Allan Smith reports from the committee’s winter meeting, where Republicans disagreed about why they underperformed in last year’s midterms. Smith also delves into whether McDaniel can truly remain neutral in the 2024 presidential primary.
Santos saga continues: Both parties are preparing for a potential special election if embattled Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., decides to step down, Politico reports. Meanwhile, the Federal Election Commission is asking Santos to clarify the identity of his campaign treasurer, after the person listed on his campaign finance reports denied holding the position. But the Washington Post reports that the Justice Department has asked the FEC “to hold off on any enforcement action” against Santos as it conducts a criminal investigation.
In the Grand Canyon State: Arizona Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego held the first events of his Senate campaign over the weekend. Republican Kari Lake, who is weighing her own run for Senate after losing last year’s race for governor, held a rally where she insisted November’s election was stolen. Former President Donald Trump called into the rally, saying of Lake, ““Ultimately, she’s going to be victorious,” per NBC News’ Vaughn Hillyard. And Arizona Republicans elected former Trump aide Jeff DeWitt as their state party chairman.
Beshear readies for re-election: The Associated Press reports on how Kentucky Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear is framing his administration’s accomplishments ahead of his re-election bid this fall.
In the Hart-land: Iowa Democrats tapped former state Sen. Rita Hart as their new party chair (Hart narrowly lost her congressional race in 2020 against now-Republican Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks by just six votes).