Trump’s candidacy shows a divided US

Undeterred by the barrage of criticism directed at him over the Republican Party’s sub-par showing in the United States (US) midterms, Donald Trump launched yet another bid for the White House on Wednesday, marking his third consecutive attempt at capturing the powerful office. In a speech, Mr Trump, 76, again wielded his populist inflammatory rhetoric with a careless disregard for facts. It is clear that he will be looking to energise his far-Right base with extremist language around race, culture and nationalism. But if the midterms — where the underwhelming performance of Republican candidates was attributed to poor candidates backed by Mr Trump, their election-denying triumphalism and extreme positions on social issues — were any portend, he will have a tougher time on the campaign trail this time.

In 2016, Mr Trump was an untested entity squaring off against an establishment candidate with baggage, Hillary Clinton. He was able to weaponise economic despondency, White anger and Democratic lethargy to achieve an upset victory. But his combustible governance style, poor handling of Covid-19, and disinformation made him unpopular. It is what made him lose the 2020 presidential election and what hurt the Republicans earlier this month.

Mr Trump’s decision to run will bring back memories of his nativist rhetoric, inherent distrust of multilateral partnerships and unpredictable handling of diplomacy that made allies nervous. His candidacy is also a sign of the deep class and race divisions in the US. Mr Trump, like his successor Joe Biden, is a close friend of India, and with relations between the two countries transcending individuals and parties, New Delhi has no particular preference on the 2024 outcome. But it will be watching closely.

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