Trump to GOP: Support candidates who ‘stand for our values’

Donald Trump on Saturday pushed Republicans to support candidates who are loyal to him in next year’s midterm elections as the former president launched a new more active phase of his post presidency.

Trump, 74, teased the prospect of another presidential bid of his own in 2024, but vowed first to be an active presence on the campaign trail for those who share his values in next year’s fight for control of Congress.

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“The survival of America depends on our ability to elect Republicans at every level starting with the midterms next year,” Trump charged early in a rambling speech that spanned nearly an hour and a half.

Trump’s speech to hundreds of Republican officials and activists gathered for the North Carolina GOP convention was the opening appearance in what is expected to be a new phase of rallies and public events. Out of office for more than four months and banned from his preferred social media accounts, the former president hopes to use such events to elevate his diminished voice ahead of another potential presidential run.

His advisers are already eyeing subsequent appearances in Ohio, Florida, Alabama and Georgia to help bolster midterm candidates and energize voters.

Some party leaders worry that a rise of pro-Trump candidates in the coming months could jeopardize the GOP’s fight for control of Congress in 2022. While Trump remains a dominant force within his party, he is deeply unpopular among key segments of the broader electorate. He lost the last election by 7 million votes after alienating Republican-leaning suburban voters across the country.

In contrast to the mega rallies that filled sports arenas when Trump was president, he faced a crowd that organizers estimated at 1,200 seated at dinner tables inside the Greenville convention center Saturday night. Tens of thousands more followed along on internet streams.

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Invited to the stage briefly during his remarks, Trump daughter-in-law and North Carolina native Lara Trump announced she would not run for the Senate because of family obligations.

“I am saying no for now, not no forever,” Lara Trump said.

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