Things are going from bad to worse for former President Trump. And last week didn’t do him any favors.
A major poll showed Trump trailing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) by a wide margin in a hypothetical head-to-head match-up with perhaps his most formidable potential primary opponent.
And a self-described “major announcement” from Trump drew eye rolls after it was revealed to be a new way for the president to make money by selling digital trading cards with his likeness.
The landscape is unlikely to get any better for Trump in the coming days, with the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot set to release its final report and announce criminal referrals targeting Trump and his allies.
Two separate polls showed DeSantis surging ahead of Trump in head-to-head scenarios for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination.
A USA Today-Suffolk University poll released Tuesday found that 56 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning voters prefer DeSantis, while only 33 percent would support Trump. On Wednesday, a Wall Street Journal poll found DeSantis leading Trump among likely Republican voters 52 percent to 38 percent.
While it’s unlikely Trump and DeSantis would be the only two candidates for voters to choose from, the polls showed concrete evidence of the former president’s potentially loosening grip on the GOP in the weeks since he announced his third White House campaign.
Not as politically damaging but perhaps just as concerning for some of Trump’s allies was the former president unveiling a line of digital trading cards bearing his likeness after he’d promised a “major announcement.”
Trump allies have been frustrated by a lack of activity around the former president’s 2024 campaign since he officially announced his candidacy in mid-November. There was some hope that the “major announcement” would be related to campaign staffing or events in early voting states.
Instead, it was a commercial venture for the former president — and one in which the money would go to Trump personally, not his campaign. The 45,000 cards sold out at $99 each in less than 24 hours.
“Whoever’s advising this stuff is a good idea needs to be fired. This is NOT 2016,” Robby Starbuck, a Trump-aligned commentator who briefly ran for a House seat in Tennessee, tweeted in response to the announcement. “We’re in an economic crisis, fighting total cultural degradation, fighting to save our country and facing an enemy that wants to control our lives. People want to see fight right now, not NFT cards.”
Stephen Bannon, who served as a chief strategist for Trump on his 2016 campaign and in the White House, appeared exasperated by the trading cards during his radio show on Thursday.
“I can’t do this anymore,” Bannon said after a video played promoting the cards, which feature Trump as an astronaut, a golfer and superhero, among other images.
“He’s one of the greatest presidents in history, but I’ve got to tell you, whatever business partner, anybody in the comms team, anybody at Mar-a-Lago, and I love the folks down there, but we’re at war. They ought to be fired today,” Bannon said.
The announcement even drew mockery from President Biden, who used the opportunity to tweet out some of his own “major announcements,” including a prisoner swap to free WNBA star Brittney Griner, the signing of legislation to protect same-sex marriage and falling gas prices.
Trump’s rough week also came in stark contrast to some of the Republicans against whom he may be campaigning for the party’s presidential nomination in 2024.
DeSantis, who has emerged as the preferred alternative to Trump among many voters and conservative commentators, signed legislation on Thursday cutting roadway tolls for more than 1 million Florida commuters.
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R), who has also received some buzz as a possible 2024 candidate, released his proposed 2023 budget on Thursday that included a suggested income tax cut that he said would save Virginians more than $700 million per year.
The hits could keep coming for Trump in the next several days.
The House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the Capitol will hold its final event on Monday, during which it will publicly release its list of criminal referrals and vote to publish its final report two days later.
Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said the panel has not finalized the referrals, but it has repeatedly indicated it believes Trump broke the law in his efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
Trump, for his part, appears ready to put up a fight.
“How can they January 6th unselect committee make criminal referrals when they haven’t spoken about, or studied, those that rigged the 2020 election, the troops not being brought in by Pelosi, or now, the election fraud determinatively revealed by Twitter?” Trump posted in all caps on Truth Social. “These are the real criminals!!!”